By Andie Vasquez

I saw an article recently pop up about using Montessori techniques for homeschooling, especially since there has been such a sharp increase in families schooling from home this year due to the pandemic. Unfortunately the article didn’t prove to be very helpful. It was filled with telling parents to buy Montessori materials for your home. Something I don’t find incredibly useful right now.  Montessori materials can be expensive, and take up space, two things families may or may not be able to accommodate. Being such a firm believer in the Montessori learning strategy and being in a Montessori school, I see ways that the techniques can easily be used in a homeschool environment that don’t require large purchases. If you are truly interested in this, I strongly suggest The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies. She has written it to teach parents how to implement the methods in the home environment, and is perfect for this scenario. 

Since so much of the mind set of Montessori goes beyond, learn ABCs and do Math, there are many ways to teach your children in the home that do not involve “Teaching” materials of any kind. Have your children cook dinner with you, or if they are big enough, let them plan and cook an entire meal themselves. Take them grocery shopping with you and let them check out and pay. Have them help you sweep and mop and clean the house. Have them fold their laundry and make their beds. Get them a potted plant to care for. These are all ways to involve your kids in the day to day house function and gives them a sense of responsibility in addition to the various skills they are building. Doing something as simple as reading books to them helps build their language comprehension and imagination. Keep in mind that children absorb the world around them and learn from it. Your everyday life can be full of learning experiences. 

But let’s look into some Work that can be done at home that does teach ABC and Math. I’ve chosen a handful of things that can easily be done at home with items you may even have laying around to give you some tools to help bolster your Homeschool experience. 

Sorting Coins:

You will need a handful of random coins, a large bowl, and four smaller bowls.

Place the large bowl in the middle and fill it with your handful of coins. Put the smaller bowls around it in a circle. The child will then be instructed to sort the coins by type into the four bowls. The goal here is to recognize and be able to separate items by size and shape. You could do this with colored stones or beads or toy dinosaurs if you really wanted. Sorting prepares students for Math and Science. 

Numbers and Counters:

You will need a set of number flashcards and Aquarium Marbles.

Have the child set out the flashcards in order from One to Ten, then place the correct number of marbles underneath each number. You can then further use the physical marbles to explain Even and Odd. Odd has a single marble standing alone, like number one, while even numbers do not. This helps students to practice their numbers and counting in a physical way that requires movement and utilizes more than one of their senses. This is a Math work.

Sock Matching:

You will need several pairs of socks.

Mix up the socks, making sure each sock has a match. Allow the child to find the matches and then fold them together. The goal is to notice patterns and matches, which prepares for Math and Language, but also improves dexterity and fine motor skills in the act of folding

Moveable Alphabet:

You will need a few sets of alphabet flashcards. 

Once your child has mastered a few letter sounds, they can begin to build words with them. The moveable alphabet is wooden letters, but you could accomplish the same goal with flashcards. It won’t be exactly the same, but it would suffice in these crazy circumstances we find ourselves in. Pull out the sounds they know and tell them a word, sounding it out clearly. Have them sound it out back to you. Identify the sounds with them, and then have them find the letters that make those sounds. To start use only short three letter words like cat or hat. Identify the three sounds, beginning C, then the middle A, and the end T. If they use a K instead of a C don’t correct them. K makes the same sound as C in cat. At this point spelling is not that important so long as the sounds they are choosing are correct. Once they have built the word, give them paper and a pencil and have them write the words. In the beginning, you may need to use a highlighter to write them and have them trace your letters until they become more confident in writing. Use more and more sounds until they can use the entire alphabet. Eventually reading and writing will become the goals.

“I Spy”:

You will need several objects or toys.

Lay out a handful of items in between you and your child, and be sure they know what each item is. Say, “I Spy something that begins with (Letter Sound)”. If they have trouble, go down the group of items and ask if this begins with (Letter Sound) until they can choose the correct item. In addition, If they say something that you weren’t thinking of as a name but it is accurate, don’t stop and correct them, give it to them. For example, let’s say you have a dog, a bear, a toucan, a house, and a pumpkin laid out on the table. You ask for something that begins with “b” and your child says, “Bird!” give them the toucan. It may not have been what you intended, but they positively identified the correct sound. The goal is to help children learn their letter sounds and be able to know them confidently in words and sentences.

Tweezer Erasers

You will need a package of small erasers, tweezers, and a plastic ice tray.

Using the tweezers, have your child grasp the erasers and place one into each of the ice cube trays. Once they have accomplished this, have them pick them back up, with the tweezers and return them to the original container. The goal here is to strengthen the pincer grasp, which is fundamental to holding a pencil and develops fine motor skills.

Continent Matching:

You will need to print a map of the continents and then various animals that live on all of the continents. 

Lay the map out and give your child the pictures of animals. Allow them to place the animals where they think they live. Discuss the various climates and why the animal may thrive in that kind of environment. The goal is for children to learn about the different places in the world and what they are like. It familiarizes them with nature and its many different creatures.

Art Folder:

You will need Blank Paper, Markers or crayons, and a Folder.

Something pretty simple you can do with your kids is craft projects. Both art kits with specific pieces and instructions and unstructured creating. Give them some glue and paper and googly eyes and watch what they create with it. Build a birdhouse together. Creating art is excellent in bolstering their imagination and creative thinking, but also develops fine motor skills. One work is to give your child an Art Folder, which is a three pronged folder with blank paper in it. Have them draw and color until the folder is full, then take out the paper and staple it to look like a book. They’ve made an Art Book! 

With everything happening and many children now learning from home, I am sure parents are concerned their children are getting the education they need. These are simply a few Works I think could be successfully used in the home without too much out of pocket expense on the parents. Pulling one of these out can break up the usual school routine and even be fun to do with your child. Always remember that children soak up everything around them, so even when you don’t think you are teaching them, you probably are. Get a footstool and teach them how to make the secret family recipes this Holiday season. Dump out the box of Legos and build a city with them. You can teach your children so much by engaging in activities with them.

And remember to give yourself a break. Its been a stressful year, and you deserve to give yourself some slack. As parents we fret over our children and how to give them the best opportunities. I know, I do it too. My hope is that by giving you a few more tools and ideas, it will boost some creativity, and help ease your mind a little bit. You can do this.