Friday, July 15, 2011

Montessori Journeys: Stephanie

Today's Montessori Journey is brought to us by:

My Montessori Journey began only a short while ago. Actually it was in the fall of 2010! I was starting to think about Kindergarten for my daughter who was 4 at the time. I was leaning toward homeschooling because I didn’t like the public school option. Not that the schools were bad, but the thought that she couldn’t learn about thing things that were important to her bothered me. I wanted my kids to love learning, to know how to find the information that they wanted to know about, to enjoy their time as students while learning how to be responsible in the world around them. I was homeschooled though high school, and my husband was homeschooled as well, so the idea of homeschool wasn’t something that we were unfamiliar with. However, my husband thought that we should look at all the options that were available. I was a part of a homeschool group that had been talking a lot about the different types of homeschooling (Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unschooling, etc). Montessori had come up as one of the options and I thought I would look into that.

 I found that there were several schools around our area that were Montessori schools, so I called for information. The lady set us up with, not only paper work, but an appointment to come and see the school! So in September of 2010, I (with my husband and kids) stepped foot into the first Montessori school I had ever seen. As we headed into the classroom, I was shocked at how perfect it was! My heart just seemed to beg for my kids to be here. They were enthralled! My 4 year old was watching the kids and looking at the material with real interest, and my normally shy 18 month old, wanted to take off like she was at home! The teachers that we visited let the girls try some material, help feed the class pet, and wash their hands in the child sized sink. I loved it, they loved it, and I left knowing I had found what I was looking for in a school. But then came the sticker shock! It was nearly $10,000 a year. Ouch! Even with financial aid, we couldn't swing it, so now what? We could homeschool this way!

Well being a homeschooled child I turned to the resource that answered any question I ever had about something….the library! Within days, I had gotten out every book from library system I could get my hands on about Montessori education. Looking though the pile the book that attracted me the most was, “How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way” by Tim Seldin. I read it in about a day. I was hooked! This was it! Then I read Elizabeth Hainstock ,and another one. Next I hit the internet looking for a curriculum (I was still so new to this that I thought I would find one). The thing that I found was a program by New Child Montessori that had seasonal teaching guides. I bought them, placed my first substantial Montessori Material order, and started in October! Sure it was pricey, but I knew that I was going to have to buy stuff sooner or later, and my husband had gotten some extra money from a job (he’s a contractor) that he was able to give me! Yes in less then a month I found what I wanted and started off right away!

The day I discovered blogs, was probably one the most life changing part of my journey. It made me realize that there are tons of moms out there who were trying to do the same things I was. They also had ideas, resources, and support! They could help me answer questions, they could help me see that I didn’t need a curriculum once I knew how Montessori materials were presented, and they were fun to read! It was by reading blogs that I dug into my first book written by Maria Montessori ( The Secret of Childhood). So, in January of 2011 I started my own blog as a way to remember and record the work I did with my kids. It has turned into something so much more. I help people, they help me, it is a support system that has lifted me up when I didn’t think I could go forward! There were so many questions that I didn’t have the answer for. I felt that I needed so much training that I couldn’t get. But they were trained, had done this all before, and they had researched answers. They were a blessing!

There was one thing missing in the education of my children that I really felt I needed to figure out….faith formation. My husband and I were raised in very Catholic homes, and I wanted my kids to have that too. I wanted them to have a chance to have a deep relationship with God on their own. With all of my new Montessori training I couldn't reconcile getting work books for a subject that should be the most important, so I googled “Catholic Montessori” and that is when I found the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd! I was so excited! I couldn’t believe that I had found the way to lead my kids to God that would give them a relationship with Him that was all theirs! I hit the national website and found an atrium! On our first day there I was struck by the peace and the holiness that poured out. It was a place of prayer and God. I had never seen my kids like they were in the Atrium. They were quiet, calm, and busy. They were reflective there, on the way home, and at Sunday Mass. I could see how much it was helping them know God, and I loved it!

So this journey has been fast paced and such a blessing to me and to my family. It was lead by God (I never would have found it myself), and I have found, not just a system of education, but a calling. I have discovered that this is what I was meant to do. I am now taking a Montessori class through Worldwide Montessori, and someday I hope to be able to have a small Montessori child care. I have also been blessed with the opportunity to start an atrium at my church, and my training for that is starting soon. There have been a ton of challenges, like letting go of where I thought my kids should be academically, and trying not to make them child super stars (Bunny, even at age 5 1/2 still isn’t reading like I think she should). Of course there have also been blessings, like the unfailing support of my husband, and the ever listening ear of my mom. I am learning to love better, respect more, and see my kids differently. I have grown from my journey and I wouldn't change it for the world!

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  1. Another beautiful story of how Montessori has positively affected another family and their journey through learning. Love it!

  2. I loved finding out more about your journey Stephanie!!!

  3. This is a really nice series you have here! I have enjoyed reading all of the postings. Stephanie you touched my heart while I was reading this. Thank you so much for sharing.
    Discovering Montessori

  4. An wonderful story Stephanie! Thank you for sharing. May your story touch the lives of many and inspire others in their own journeys :)


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