Decide if Montessori Homeschooling is Right for Your Family, Part 4: How old do my kids have to be to start Montessori homeschooling?
This one is a good question. My answer is always the same. Your child has to be zero days old for you to start Montessori homeschooling.
You can homeschool from birth!
Better yet, start before your precious babe is out of the safety of your womb.
Before you click away and thing I’ve gone nuts, hear me out.
Montessori homeschooling is not really schooling in the sense we understand today in modern society. Kids in desks, with homework assignments. Babies learning sight words and ABC’s. Toddlers reciting the periodic table. It’s none of that!
What I mean, is that you can incorporate Montessori principles into your home, where your child is naturally learning more information in the first five years of her life than she will learn the rest of her time on this earth. So, it’s kind of a “home-school” from birth.
Here is an overview of what you can be doing with your child each year, in a very generalized format.
Talk, talk, talk. Use gentleness and make eye contact with your baby. The more language your child hears and sees you speaking, the more language she will acquire.
Let her roam and roll on the floor, not restricted to a playpen or corner of the room. (Babyproof as large of a space in your home as possible.)
Read to your baby. Snuggle, rock, cuddle. Let your baby cook with you, clean with you, garden with you - even from those first few months where you lay her on a blanket in the shade.
Take her outside on walks. Let her pull the grass up with her fingers.
In those first few weeks and months, let her look at black and white images and moving mobiles (made for babies to look at, not for parents - look from baby’s point of view.)
Allow your baby to do as much for herself as she can. Don’t prop her to sit or put her in a walker to walk. She will get there on her own!
Use a low, safe mirror for your baby to see herself!
Let her handle different textures. Use real wood and cotton toys over plastic every time.
Expose her to a variety of first foods, letting her feed herself (and allowing her to help with the clean up!)
Your baby is quickly growing into a toddler. She wants to defy nature with her movements and self-control! Let her, as much as possible, be on the move!
Get an indoor climbing structure (like a Pikler triangle), a stacking toy, a threading toy, a baby doll, a ball drop, and some animal figures. Keep the toys and stuff to an absolute minimum. The less you have and neater your few toys are arranged, the more engaged and playful she will be.
Keep reading to her, playing finger-plays and baby games with her, take her outside as much as possible each day, and help her to do everything herself.
She can sit and eat and play at a low table (one from IKEA with the legs cut down is perfect and budget-friendly.) She can help in the kitchen, learn to wash her hands, learn to feed the pet, wash the windows, and all of the other things you do each day. Her favorite entertainment will be helping Mommy, not the TV!
2-3 Years Old:
At two years old is when you can really start into some Montessori tray activities with your toddler!
The easiest thing to do at this age is to set out about 4 trays and change them weekly. You can pick a theme or go off of your child’s interests.
Is she really into frogs? You can teach her about the lifecycle of a frog and the different kinds of frogs! She can lace a frog card you printed on card stock with a shoelace. She can sort frogs by color or type. She can count toy frogs or erasers. She can put one frog toy into each well of a muffin tin using a scoop!
You don’t have to set out trays, these are just options if you are ready for some focused learning trays to help your child develop her fine motor skills, pre-reading skills, and pre-math skills.
Two to three years old is also a time for helping, fostering independence, learning how to take care of oneself, reading as many books with Mom as she can, and adventuring outside.
The sensitive period for language is peaking this year and then slowing by almost 3 years old. Your child’s vocabulary will likely be taking off!
Her need for movement is at a high, as well! Let that kid run, climb, jump! Find a “toddler games” book or website and play, play, play! Forts, couch cushions, and playgrounds will be your friends this year.
3-6 Years Old:
At three years old, a child is ready to enter the Montessori Children’s House in the primary classroom, which houses students ages 3-6 in the same classroom. This is when all of the really cool stuff (in my opinion) begins. Everything up until now is preparation for the work the child gets to do in the primary classroom.
If you are homeschooling, as most of you reading are at least thinking about doing, this is when the Montessori Materials for sensorial, language, math, and cultural studies will be utilized.
If you have been letting your child help as much as possible at home these last three years, the practical life work at home should continue. If you haven’t, then you can now make it a point to allow your child to do anything and everything herself that she can.
These three years are crucial to the child’s ability to have a firm foundation in reading, math, and an overall curiosity about the world around her!
Start with the sensorial exercises, and introduce letter sounds starting around age three. When your child has mastered a few of the sensorial exercises, you can start math! The cultural exercises can start anytime. The cultural area of a Montessori classroom contains science and geography lessons. Children age three (and sometimes even 2.5) love learning about other people, places, animals, and the world around them through simple, engaging, hands-on activities.