Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Are Montessori Organizations Excluding Homeschoolers?

With so many parents choosing to home school their children nowadays, and the numbers growing, do you think that AMI, AMS, and CGS should try and provide information, training opportunities, albums, manuals, etc.. that cater to Montessori or Catechesis of the Good Shepherd being implemented in the home?

I know that actual training in person is very crucial to these methods, but the reality is that many of us homeschooling our children cannot afford, or do not have the time for these trainings. Many of us are already well into the "ballgame" and try to implement Montessori and CGS in the home as best as possible. I can truly say that so far, I've seen great results. Are they the results that would be achieved if my children attended an actual Montessori school or Atrium? Maybe not. Maybe they'd be doing and learning even more! I personally, cannot afford to send all my children to a Montessori school, nor do I have the time to or money for full training. There is a local Montessori charter school, free of cost, however their emphasis on certain areas conflict with what I would like to emphasize in my child's education and with some of my beliefs. As far as an Atrium goes, we have none in our state, and we also attend the Tridentine Mass, so I would want the lessons to reflect the "Extraordinary" rite of the Mass.

For the sake of prompting discussion, I offer the following for consideration and discussion:

In her book, The Child in the Church, Maria Montessori states her wishes for there to be a "Montessori Order", with a "large part to be played by lay people, who would dedicate themselves to the work in a manner similar to that of members of Third Orders in the Dominican, Fransiscan and Carmelite movements, and in the same spirit."

Regarding this "Montessori Order", this is what it says in the book about Montessori in the home:
"A Second "arm" of the Montessori Order would be directed toward the helping of parents in their dealings with their own children in the home. Since Montessori's definition of education is an aid to life, it is clear that it begins at birth. In fact it begins before birth; and prior to her death Montessori founded a special kind of maternity home in Rome- which still functions. Its aim is to instruct expectant mothers, not only how to take care of their newly-born physically but also mentally, from the moment of their arrival into this most puzzling world.
Incidentally, it is interesting to note that parents are much quicker to appreciate the value of Montessori ideas than are many teachers and professors. This is no doubt because- as was the case with Montessori's first assistants in Rome- parents have not been trained as teachers have, along the old lines and methods. The parental instinct quickens their whole mental attitude toward infantile psychology and toward anything else which bears on the life of their newly-arrived offspring. There is an immense scope for the dissemination of Montessori's principles in the home, a work which has never been fully written up and properly organized, through already much has, and is being done in this sphere, in connection with many Montessori schools.
The more Montessori principles are practiced in the homes the less deviated would the under-five children become before they came to their first class, and the quicker wold be their process of normalization through work when they did come to school. "

The book goes on to say this:
"The Training of Montessori Teachers- The third branch of a Montessori Order would be the setting up and operating of training colleges for the formation of Montessori directresses. This would be a necessity, for, just as it is true to say, "No Prepared Environment, no Montessori School", so it is equally true to say, "No trained Montessori directress, no Montessori School." This is because there exists in the Montessori system a trinity, which is one and undivided, made up of (I) the children, (II) the Prepared Environment, and (III) the Montessori directress; and if anything goes amiss in the proper functioning of any one of these three something invariably goes wrong with the whole. As an essential part of this third 'arm', the training of teachers, would be the formation of a sort of vigilance committee f experts, which would include all la people, and no-Catholics also, of long Montessori experience. The aim of this committee of experts would be to guard the name Montessori and the movement that goes under it from the encroachment of other and alien educational ideas and practices which would undermine the fundamental principles on which the Montessori Method is based. This would not mean, of course, that such a committee would act in any way as a brake upon the true and genuine development of Montessori principles and techniques in new and fresh spheres of influence and practice; but it would make sure that these were "true and genuine developments in the sense that Newman uses the phrase in his famous classic, An Essay on The Development of Christian Doctrine."

With so many parents opting to home school, are AMI, AMS, and CGS working toward "the true and genuine development of Montessori principles and techniques in new and fresh spheres of influence and practice"? Homeschooling has been around for years, with more and more parents jumping on the bandwagon. I can't even keep up with all the wonderful Montessori homeschooling blogs around and popping up!

What are these Montessori organizations doing to meet the needs of these parents?

Let me know your thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them!


  1. I can't speak much for AMI or AMS, though I have had, umm, "rough" experiences getting through AMI training at both primary and elementary as a CGS-trained, wanna-be homeschooling mom. Can we say "black-balled"????

    However, with CGS it is different. There are many homeschooling parents who have been blessed with the opportunity to attend live training, and while the National Association wants to support homeschoolers, the infrastructure is just not there - *at this time*.

    I hope to work to change that. I have offered ideas already, but because I was so early on in my own training, little to nothing happened. Now that my training is 100% complete (all three levels) and I am working on recognition as a trainer, one of my missions as a trainer is to find a way to bring this work into the hands of homeschoolers within the structure of the National Association (I really don't want to set up another AMS versus AMI thing!).

    Keep praying.

  2. Dear Susana,
    North American Montessori Center, in response to the many homeschool parents who have contacted us over recent years, is developing a Montessori 3-6 Homeschool program, complete with curriculum, some materials and templates, and video demonstrations. This will be available in the coming months, and we would be pleased to send you a link to our homeschool website when we launch this new, exciting initiative.

    Thank you for this thoughtful article!

    Dale Gausman, Program Director
    North American Montessori Center

  3. Dale:
    This is absolutely wonderful news! I believe this will be of great value to help make Montessori methods and ideas an achievable reality for educators in the home.

    I am curious, have you taken a survey or sought feedback from home educators currently attempting to apply Montessori in the home to see what types of questions and information they are looking for?

    Some questions that have come up in our Montessori homeschooling co-op are:

    "What if the children are only interested in doing certain activities, and completely avoid others? How do we assess this situation to make changes if necessary?"

    Another question that has come up in the past is:
    "How do we know when to introduce certain materials and rotate materials? Is there a general developmental schedule to follow where we can still keep in mind the "following of the child", but at the same time feel confident we are introducing the necessary material?"

    "How to we store and organize all our printed material like 3-part cards, etc.."

    Other questions have come up as well, but these are the few that come up off the top of my head.

  4. Jessica,
    Thanks for your input! I will pray for the intention of achieving this "infrastructure" for home schoolers within the already established CGS.
    God Bless you and thank you for sharing with us on your blog!

  5. Susana,

    I am commenting because I didn't want to leave you post "hanging" out there. In reality, I have to get my thoughts together on this.

    Sharon Caldwell, over at the Montessori Foundation ( is working on a homeschool training program. She is one of the few people I would trust with that task as she DID HOMESCHOOL and has demonstrated that she fully understands the difference between school Montessori and homeschool Montessori.

    In answer to your question, I can't speak of any large Montessori organization as a "whole." However, I can say I've had interactions with many people from all of them. I have been treated marvelously by several people from all of them. I have AMI certified, working teachers who mentor me in their free time out of the kindness of their heart. I've also had AMI certified working teachers make it very clear they think I have NO BUSINESS doing what I'm doing and would spit on me if they could. I can say the same about AMS, NAMC, etc.,

    I also can say that I don't necessarily believe that they *should* be training homeschoolers. The training that is available is not appropriate for homeschoolers. I different kind of training is needed. It would need to be designed by an absolute expert in Montessori in its entirety. But that person would should also have considerable experience in both a traditional Montessori classroom and in a Montessori homeschool. They are not, and can not be, the same thing.

    A "public school Montessori" conference is in the works because their needs are so considerably different from regular Montessori. It shouldn't be surprising that homeschool Montessori would be different as well.

    I would say that AMI or AMS as a "whole" could not write such a manual or curriculum, but there are "individuals" among them that could.

    I have a lot of thoughts on this, and will let you know when I get them down somewhere in a coherent fashion.

  6. "My Boys Teacher",
    You bring up some great points! Thank you for adding to the discussion. Homeschooling is definitely a different setting than a Montessori school, and public school Montessori is different as well. It's exciting to hear that there are people developing training specifically geared toward home educators. Thank you for your input!

  7. As am AMI trained teacher, I am forced, after many years of dutifully toeing the line, to say that AMI as an organization is opposed to homeschooling, is elitest, and guards its training very closely. Before I took elementary training, I had no clue what the lessons were, what they might be, what they might teach, etc. I had to go, pay my tuition and go through the training before I could find out anything about the elementary program.

    I have not had AMS or NCME training, so I cannot speak for those organizations. I would be interested to hear from an AMS or NCME certified teacher on their experiences with their respective organizations.

    This is very sad, because AMI was set up by Dr. Montessori and her son Mario to carry on her work in authenticity. As a training, it is excellent, without doubt.

    AMI could, if they wanted, offer support to the homeschool community, but they have definite opinions about it, in particular in the emphasis they place on the importance of the group in the elementary class, and the Erdkinder situation, which most homeschoolers would see as major red flags. In my opinion, the Erdkinder, which may have been a possibility in the 1950's, is now no longer an option -- it is far too dangerous nowadays and cannot be implemented without serious consequences. The danger of our children being corrupted in an Erdkinder is too great. Why do we homeschool, if not to pass on the Unchangeable Truths? Why would be purposely put them into an environment of very possible moral relativism at their most vulnerable age?

    While this is a little off-topic, this is an example of how AMI is not amenable to home schooling. The same goes for the elementary classroom -- they refuse to accept that the parents are the ones who are the authority figures over the child, not the "group", with parents making the major decisions and teaching their children the norms and mores that they see fit. When I took elementary training, I couldn't help but see the "culture war" creeping its way into the training, and it was quite disconcerting, especially after I had been raised to believe that AMI training was "the ultimate" (my mother, while not trained, always strove to find AMI trained teachers for us).

    I'm basically trying to get my thoughts down -- albeit a bit disjointed! :-) I am, however, so glad to see that online such sites are popping up that serve homeschoolers and mothers on limited funds and time. May their numbers and clientele increase! :-) They are the true hope of Montessori out there.

    I would have to say, regrettably, that there isn't one Montessori school in town where I would place my children. :-( The public school is out of the question; tuition for a private school is out of the question, and I would emphatically caution every parent: if you want to and can afford a school, DON'T PUT YOUR CHILD IN UNTIL YOU HAVE GOTTEN TO KNOW THE TEACHER WELL. Be sure your child will be exposed to wholesome values, not moral me on this one. It happens, even in preschool.

    Barring that, homeschool. You can do it! We'll all be there pitching in, praying for you and willing to help you.

  8. I actually would love to see
    a Montessori homeschool association
    formed. I asked the Montessori Council
    if they would be interested in having
    a homeschool chapter and they sent
    me to homeschool organizations. I am
    not sure that is the right route either. I am a bit disappointed, to
    be honest. I realize this would take
    a lot of work and organization, but
    these posts are true...Montessori
    homeschooling is a different deal and
    has different needs. As far as read read! I don't think you can do the wrong things if
    you follow the child as Montessori
    advocates. There are many manuals
    available now from training programs
    and materials suppliers. Montessori
    for Everyone has a nice list of these
    on her site.

  9. What an engaging discussion! Thank you for bringing this up!

    I am a certified AMS teacher, who is now preparing to homeschool my own child(ren). I feel very lucky to have all my manuals, and I wish I could share them with all the searching homeschoolers out there!

    I do not, however, have my elementary-level training, and I have begun to think about what I will do as my eldest approaches that age. (I have some time...he's only 2.25!) I ask myself, "Should I pay for certification, so that I have it under my belt for future opportunities?" "Should I splurge and buy the manuals (without training)?" "Should I just glean what I can from my own reading, searching, and minimal experience in an E1 classroom years ago?" Luckily, I can put off this decision until the elementary years, but I realize this struggle is more immediate for many homeschooling parents of preschool-aged children. We want to do the best we can, but can we do that without formal training?! Perhaps we are doubting our own intelligence and judgement? Perhaps by reading and carefully interpreting Montessori's own writings, we can use her words to guide us in educating our children?

    I do agree with the other commenters that there needs to be a training specifically for Montessori homeschoolers. I recently came upon this resource, which I have not purchased or seen in person, but the previews on the website appear to be well-written and well-informed. It may be a viable option for elementary homeschoolers as well as for the preschool level.

  10. It's been my experience that Mother of Divine Grace School ( is one accredited Catholic homeschool that, in my opinion as a trained Montessorian, is one of the closest to Montessori philosophy. It is classical in principle and approach, but incorporates many Montessori philosophies, without a great deal of expenditure and (this was vital for me as we are soooo short on space) without a lot of manipulatives which you need to find places for.

    It is probably one of the best "marriages" between a classical curriculum and Montessori-style philosophy.

    Another possible compromise for homeschoolers is Charlotte Mason. While we may differ in some areas with Charlotte Mason, her philosophy utilizes considerable Montessori ideas, and is a little more workable for a home setting.

    Karen Andreola's book "Charlotte Mason Companion" has some good ideas - her ideas on phonics, though, I disagree with. I'd recommend highly to you a program called "Sound Beginnings" which is easy for mothers to do and does not contain too many "things" that can get lost in a home, especially with your toddlers around. "Sound Beginnings" is a very simplified form of the Spalding method for teaching phonics, and is excellent.

    A homeschool Montessori training really does need to take into consideration the fact that many of us have toddlers and babies, which completely changes things for us all - I don't know if any of you have had this experience, but I started out being a "purist" in homeschooling our children. What happened was that our sandpaper letters became so enticing for our baby that they "traveled" all over, some ending up in the trash, others in the crib, some in unmentionable places, etc., until we had to abandon them. The worst was having the baby nearly choke on a golden bead from our decimal material. At first we tried keeping them up high when not in use. That was more trouble than it was worth; plus we really did not have any room at all for the necessary shelving. Finally I had to sell my materials, which turned out to be for the best for our family.

    For math, we finally ended up using Saxon. It has worked out very well for us, and there isn't anything for the baby to choke on. :-)

  11. Oh, another thing - yes, you can teach your child successfully without formal training. You know your child best. Don't let training organizations intimidate you. You can buy manuals - mine are for sale, if you want to check out Susana's sidebars on the blog! :-) - and do what works for you.

    You're the Mom (or the Dad, as the case may be), and you CAN teach your child successfully (to borrow a title from a well-known homeschool how-to book)! :-)

  12. Jessa,
    Thanks for taking the time to add to the discussion! Time flies by so fast with little one's! It's good to keep those elementary years in the back of the mind, as you will find they quickly creep up on you! :) Elizabeth Papandrea sells some wonderful albums for both primary and elementary grade levels. Keep her in mind when the time rolls around! You can find her contact info on my side bar.

  13. Kathy,
    I also would love to see a Montessori home school association
    formed! What a shame that the Montessori Council sent you away. Montessori home educators have been around for a while now, and the numbers only seem to be growing! We're here, and we're here to stay!
    I would really think that these organizations would want to carry out Maria Montessori's vision to have the Montessori method grow and adapt to meet the needs of the people. However, I wonder more and more if it is just a question of "what's in it for me?", or if it is truly ignorance to the growing movement of Montessori home educators? Hmm...

  14. Elizabth, thank you so much for commenting! My children and I have been so blessed because you've made your albums available to home educators everywhere!

    I also agree that doing Montessori in the home for academics can be quite the challenge! I'm going to have to blog about my story and how exactly we do things around here: storage, space, acquiring materials, my journey etc. Hopefully I can give other home educators an idea of what it might take to do Montessori in their home. It definitely involves a lot of sacrifice and adapting, but if you've got the space and ability, it can be done in a manner that is modified for use in the home. Lori, from Montessori for Everyone seems to have been at it for quite a few years now, and surely there are others. We have a Montessori co-op going on 4 days a week in my home since September! Everyone can check it out at

    It truly upsets me that certain organizations would act elitist about Montessori. It is no wonder that so much time is spent having to "dispel Montessori Myths". Much of it seems to be a mystery, and don't even get me started about asking a teacher about albums. They've acted like it's a big sacred secret! Not very good for public relations in my opinion :)

    I'll just have to share my story sometime soon. For now, I'll keep this blog post up at the top. I am enjoying everyone's input and experiences. Maybe by opening up this discussion, something will be done to help meet the needs of Montessori educators in the home!

  15. Hi,
    Thanks for your response.
    Maybe through your site we
    could start a list of those
    interested in forming an association of some kind?
    The reason I wanted to affiliate
    with an existing organization is
    to simplify the process. Maybe this will have to be a grassroots
    organization as all homeschooling
    seems to be, as far as organizing?
    I am a regular member of a couple
    of organizations, in fairness to
    them. I think they offer great things to teachers. But, as you
    say, homeschooling has it's own
    set of needs not addressed.
    I would like to see other at home
    programs included. I run a school
    and tutorials out of my home as
    a trained Montessorian. I know there are others out there as well
    doing the same. The focus is at
    home, though. My program includes
    the parents in the room. I am sure there would be all kinds of purmutations of home based or at home montessorians, ie homeschooling,
    co-ops, tutoring, small schools,
    etc. as well as those producing
    hand made materials. It would be great to include this spectrum
    of home based activity.
    What do you think?

  16. Even as an ardent Montessori homeschooler, I'm not sure I agree that Montessori organizations need to provide materials specifically for homeschool. With the proliferation of information online, including online training centers that are open to everyone, it's not that difficult for parents to get training and information to use at home.

    Keep in mind that homeschooling with Montessori, while not brand new, has exploded in the past 10 years or so and it takes time for organizations to catch up.

    Maybe in the future there will be articles about Montessori and homeschooling in major Montessori publications (although as I mention below, I did write one for the Montessori Foundation newsletter on their request). Maybe AMI/AMS will have sessions on homeschooling during their conferences. But should they? Even I can't say that for sure.

    Having a large group of children in a prepared environment with a trained teacher is an integral part of practicing Montessori; there's no way around that. Since most homeschools do not have that situation, I actually do not blame the major Montessori organizations for not embracing homeschoolers. I don't think it's that easy.

    I had been told about NAMC's homeschooling course back when I wrote about Montessori & homeschooling for the Montessori Foundation...that was 2 years ago and the course is still not out. So I don't know what the realistic timeline on that is on that but I hope it is sooner rather than later :)

    I find that my training, which was the traditional kind, has been very helpful for working at home so anyone who homeschools could definitely benefit from taking the training online or at a training center even if it wasn't specifically for homeschoolers.

  17. I too did traditional training
    and feel that it was worth every
    cent and effort. I certainly feel
    more prepared to teach at home.
    I think,however to consider other
    kinds of training specific to
    homeschooling is in order. Not every parent has the resources nor
    time away from the children they
    are trying to homeschool with Montessori methods to attend training, take tests, do an
    internship etc. Again, the needs of homeschooling are quite different and require a more intimate approach than a large

  18. Hi. I've only skimmed your post and the comments. It seems as if there are a lot of good answers already.

    As a Montessori teacher, I've been to several of the professional conferences by AMS and the Montessori Foundation. (I haven't yet had the opportunity to go to an AMI conference.) At all of the conferences there are presentations designed for parents or new teachers.

    There is a lot of politics behind the scene with AMI and AMS. Some people are working to bring more unity to Montessori, but others feel that AMS lacks quality and standards. This issue often takes precedence in the work that they do. Just trying to expand knowledge of Montessori to the public (and fighting over who should be recognized.)

  19. Tracy,

    You have hit the nail on the head. Most of the AMI/AMS debate is all about politics and, dare I say, money.


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