MONTESSORI TODDLER: HOW WE ARE STARTING TO HOMESCHOOL/UNSCHOOL AT 18 MONTHS-OLD

The girls are second generations homeschoolers/unschoolers. I was fresh out of fourth grade when my mum began homeschooling my sister and I, so it looks a bit different for the girls than when I began. Children learn through play, so when you hear “homeschooling toddlers” don’t think we have a set 8-3 schedule and it’s filled with lesson plans. Below I’ll share what an average week looks like, while trying to uphold the Montessori philosophy. Sometime soon I’ll share what an average day looks like.

I’d like to mention first that while I prepare and present materials on certain days, they aren’t required to participate. For instance, Music Mondays, I’ll lay their instruments out while they are napping. When they wake-up, they decided if they want to join. I usually have a craft set-up for them on Tuesdays and there were a few weeks in a row that they showed no interest. However, another random day when I was working on a painting, they wanted to join…and it was fantastic and we go with it. This is similar to what they do in a Montessori classroom. While there may be work that needs to be done, they child decides when to work on it. The guide may gently remind them, but there is no forcing. So when the T didn’t want to go over letters, the responsibility fell on me to present it differently and in such a way that he was called to it.

We currently don’t have a homeschool room set-up. While we plan to convert part of our basement to an area devoted to homeschooling and the traditional Montessori materials, it will be some time. In the meantime, we incorporate these traditional materials into our everyday shelves. For children who attend a Montessori school, you wouldn’t do this as that work should be reserved for school, the same reason we would have a separate homeschooling area. But at 18 months-old, this arrangement works great.

Unschooling is just a form of homeschooling (hence why I use both terms even though we are, pretty much, unschoolers).  Homeschooling tends to have more structure and follow a curriculum; with unschooling, we don’t follow a curriculum, we learn based on interests we come across in books, a conversation about a topic that we wish to learn more about, etc.  Having just celebrated the holidays and learning why we embrace certain traditions, we decided to do a world study.  So for a week, we will focus on a particular country.  More about that in later posts, but just using it here as an example week of what homeschooling looks like for us. 

Monday:  We usually study music on Mondays, so we keep with our theme and study the famous musicians, composers, songs, and instruments that originated from the country we are studying.  For instance: Tchaikovsky when learning about Russia.

Tuesday:  A day we often do crafts.  So we take this opportunity to study famous artists and the works from the country we are learning about.  Like for Spain, we would study Picasso and his different periods.  We then may try our hand at cubism, but more likely Picasso’s Rose Period and Blue periods as the focus is more on the colours–something more to E and V’s current skill and interests.      

Wednesday:  Famous landmarks and its architecture.  Like the Notre-Dame de Paris’ French Gothic architecture in France.  We mostly look at pictures and go over shapes, like Egyptian pyramids and triangles (since we are studying 2D shapes).

Thursday:  As the girls have taken more of an interest in participating in the kitchen, we’ve recently made it a point to make something tasty.  While I try to locate recipes that are taste safe, they are beginning to mouth less and less thus allowing us to expand our recipe repertoire.  During our world study, we make a traditional food from the particular country we are learning about.  So, for Poland, we made vegan gluten-free pierogies.  

Friday:  What holidays are celebrated in the country we are studying and why?  We save this for Friday because it’s such a great way to head into the weekend.  We also take this opportunity to learn about famous figures.]

Are you homeschooling your little one or plan to?  Do you have a basic routine set-up?

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