An Interview with a Montessori Homeschooler
In this series, I have had the privilege of interviewing other homeschoolers from across the country. Here to tell us how her family got started homeschooling and what her family’s homeschool style looks like is Tearri, the author of the blog, We Don’t Need No Education and The Work Plan. Tearri homeschools her children and also runs a Montessori preschool.
First I’d like to ask you how old your kids are and how long you’ve been homeschooling?
My children that I home school are seven and eleven. My oldest is fourteen years old and attends a public charter school.
How/why did you get started homeschooling?
I began homeschooling all of my children in their early years. Ken, my eleven year old, was home schooled through first grade. As a second grader Ken begged me to send her to school, so I did. Their school year last year was not so good. In mid school year they had to change schools because DJ had a knife pointed to his stomach by a classmate! Both Ken and DJ were losing their love of learning. This past fall I started homeschooling DJ and Ken again to honor their request. I guess the short answer would be I didn’t decide homeschooling they did; however, it was something that I had a desire to do. So we have officially been homeschooling since September of 2011.
I know you do a lot of Montessori work in your homeschool. Can you tell us a bit more about the Montessori method?
The Montessori Method was developed by Dr. Marie Montessori, the first female in Italy to receive a medical degree. In 1907 Dr.Montessori was given the opportunity to study children who had special needs, disadvantaged children who lived in the slums of Italy. While working with these children she started the Casa dei Bambini (House of Children) . Here she used her great observations and created didactic materials that allowed the children to learn and explore their environment using all of their senses. The Montessori Method’s key tenets is preparing the most natural environment, observing the child freely in this environment, and using the observations to continually adapt the environment in that the child may fulfill his or her greatest potential, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Dr.Marie Montessori was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. In Montessori schools today there is a subject that is practiced daily by the children Peace Education. If you ever have the pleasure of stepping inside a Montessori classroom you will be in amazement in how this Peace philosophy is gently woven into everyday life. [Picture of Maria Montessori is from wikimedia commons.]
Do you have a specific curriculum you work from or do you design your own?
We are greatly inspired by the Montessori Method. One of the philosophies in Montessori education is “following the child.” I am very flexible in what my children are learning and I have a deep understanding of how my children learn. They love hands on activities and the Montessori Method fosters this need. I know through observing and following them that they will grasp concepts and grow up to be independent, hard workers who feel good about themselves in return will want to contribute to their society. In many ways sometimes I see us as unschoolers, except my kids thrive on structure! There are times we use purchased unit studies, ideas from wonderful blogs like yours (Thanks Tearri!), curriculum ideas that I created, and many ingenious ideas that they have come up with on their own.
What did you do for school yesterday? Do most of your days look like that?
We have a rhythm, but truly none of our days look the same. One day they may do a lot of math work, the next day it may be all about volcanoes. We start our school day as soon as we arrive home from dropping Michelle off at school about 8:00 a.m . Both of the kids read a chapter of a book aloud to me from a book that they chose to read; we take turns reading. As soon as our reading time ends, they begin their independent work period which is roughly three and half hours. They may ask me things that they need or would just like for me to work with them one on one on whatever it is there doing. I often will present them with new concepts each building on one another during their work period. My kids also share me with eight other preschoolers. This has actually been a blessing. They see me busy and often they have solved the problem on their own while waiting for my attention. They are finished with school at about 12:00p.m. They help me out a great deal as well which makes our end of the day awesome. We depend on each other and each member holds up their end of the deal.
Where do you do most of your homeschooling? Do you have a specific homeschooling room?
We do have a dedicated area for homeschooling, well I should say for now. The work area is always changing most of the time they are doing their work right alongside a preschooler.
Here is the entrance to our classroom. Click here for a full tour of the room.
How does homeschooling work in your family? Are you the main homeschooling parent?
My kids are mainly guided by me. But to be honest they are village children; they somehow always find information from other people that they make connections with everyday. For example, DJ learns a lot from the Deli department manager he has befriended. He loves taste testing and the manager loves to teach DJ various herbs that were used, how the meat was sliced, and what type of oils were used in the pasta. One thing that I am finding out being homeschoolers is that my children are able to communicate with the young and the old.
Do you school year round or do you follow your local public school schedule (starting in September, taking off on public holidays, winter break, long summer break)?
Do you have a particular style of homeschooling? Do you follow a set curriculum?
I am particularly relaxed. Since this is my second time around I know what pitfalls to avoid. I make sure I am not overworked, and it is my goal that we have fun learning everyday. It is a blessing to be able to home school my kids. I wouldn’t want to make any choices that would change this. I talk with the kids on a daily basis about our home school happenings and make sure we are all still enjoying this decision.
What curriculum/books do you recommend most often to fellow homeschoolers?
I would recommend The Absorbent Mind by Dr. Marie Montessori , What Your …… Grader needs to know by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. In this series the books have a wealth of information, wonderful subject area lessons, and the best of the best poetry selections. Like most homeschooling parents we may become nervous at times that our children aren’t “learning,” I love going to this book for a pick me up.
How do you manage the school/house/work/kids’ activities/meal balance? How do you do it all?
I don’t do it all! My kids are at the age that they can clean up after themselves, follow and complete chores, and they love being able to do it! They love it when I delegate special chores that they normally see me do. For example Michelle loves it when I have her preheat the oven, or season the meat. DJ loves to hear me ask him to find a coupon for the best Pizza deal, call and order it. There are not many things that I let slide, because I can’t afford to do that. I am their first role model! If they see me sliding they may think it is O.K to slide, so I love delegating task whenever I feel too overwhelmed. I also have a wonderful assistant who helps me with the preschoolers.
What are your homeschooling plans for the future? Will you homeschool straight through high school?
I follow my children and I will follow them to public school if that’s what they want. To me homeschooling is a great thing. Sometimes they have to figure it out on their own, sorta like Ken had to. Many people who know me say that I give them too many choices. To me it is the same. You have a choice to learn at home or to learn at public school. They don’t have a choice of not to learn! Michelle, my oldest, will be joining us next year, so I guess our love for homeschooling is rubbing off. I plan to operate a preschool outside the home; they still want to join me there. Maybe one day we can add on higher grades there, just one of my dreams.
How much do you use technology in your homeschool–the computer, TV, iPod/iPad games, etc?
We use it all! During independent work period the only technology allowed is a computer to be used for researching, or a learning game pre-approved by me. DJ has a Nintendo 3DS, Michelle has an Ipod, and Ken has her own laptop. We have cable and the kids enjoy watching T.V. You will only find me watching Jeopardy.
Tell us about your most favorite homeschool project/activity/memory?
One of my favorite homeschoolng moments was watching the kids work hard on owning their first business. They opened up a school store that has really been successful.
Our home school has changed by our own expectations. We learned that it is O.K to ditch a book that has lost our interest. We have learned that trying new things may spark a hobby.
Thanks so much Tearri. I really enjoyed hearing how homeschooling works in your family. You are very inspiring! Be sure to visit Tearri over at We Don’t Need No Education.
You might be interested in our other Homeschool Interviews and Guest Posts:
- An Interview with A Homeschooling Dad
- An Interview with a Christian Classical Educator (Part 1) and (Part 2)
- An Interview with a Montessori Homeschooler
- Homeschooling Through a Virtual School
- Homeschooling in Australia
- An Interview with Erica of Confessions of a Homeschooler
- Interview with a Radical Unschooling Family
- Guest Post: Working Outside the Home, Homeschooling Mom – A guest post by one of my very best friends! 🙂
- 11 Year Old Shares Her Thoughts on Homeschooling – The daughter of my friend (above) wrote this!
- Guest Post by My Homeschooling Sister: Intensity in Learning
- Homeschooling Through Spousal Deployment, a Destructive Flood and More (Another post featuring my sister’s homeschool journy. They lost their house during flooding in Nashville 5 years ago.) and Part 2 of that post–Homeschooling Through High School (My sister’s kids are Older than Mine!)
- Homeschooling Through the Teenage Years: Video by Susan Wise Bauer