Setting Up Your First Month of Montessori Lessons
Welcome to Lesson 3 of the Montessori Homeschooling 101 Series!
Lesson 3: Setting Up Your First Month of Montessori Lessons
Setting up a Montessori homeschool space can be the most exciting yet intimidating endeavor for a new homeschool mom. I'm here to make it a little easier on you.
Start with just one month of lessons.
If you're anything like me, you may believe that you need all-the-things to get started... Please don't be like me. Just stick to enough materials for one month.
If you're using my RKW Montessori Homeschool Preschool Curriculum, you will know exactly what you need, so go through the checklist for Month 1, gather, print, and prep.
Remember, you only need about 3-4 shelves, and these can even be trays and materials inside underbed storage boxes that you only set out during school time!
If you are not using a prescribed curriculum, but instead are using Montessori Albums, you will need to go through and choose what you are going to cover for your first month of lessons.
Here is a general rule of thumb that I like to use when you're first getting started.
Present one lesson each day, and rotate subjects.
You can also have out work options for handiwork, practical life work, and trays containing open-ended toys, but don't steal your child's work time by chatting and presenting too much (especially in the beginning!)
*Note: This is not necessarily how those using the RKW Preschool curriculum choose to pace their lessons, as parents are encouraged to follow their child's pace. I have just found it is best in the beginning, and it may work splendidly for the long-haul! It's just a suggestion! :)
Here's a sample:
- Monday: Sensorial Presentation
- Tuesday: Language (Reading/Writing) Presentation
- Wednesday: Enrichment Presentation (Art, Music, or Handcraft)
- Thursday: Math Presentation
- Friday: Science Presentation
Stick with the same material/topic in each category for the full month, whenever possible.
This prevents the "over-presenting" and "buying too many things" syndrome many of us face.
Choose one topic to start. A great place to start with science is with matter. Week 1 you can discuss the definition of matter and give 3-4 concrete examples. Maybe find a children's picture book in the library and read it with your child after the lesson. Week 2 you can compare solids, liquids, and gases using concrete examples. Week 3 you can extend the solid, liquid, gas lesson with classified cards - inviting your child to categorize pictures under the three headings of solid, liquid, and gas. Week 4 you could do an experiment! Fill a balloon with water with your child the night before the lesson. Tie it and freeze it. Get it out during the lesson and cut the balloon off! Discuss its state (solid). Let it melt while your child has independent work time. Discuss its state now (liquid). Take your child to the kitchen and boil the water to steam (with parental guidance, of course)! Discuss its state again (gas!) Review the definition of matter.
Using the above scheme, your shelves will not be crammed-full. You will not need a classroom! Each month, you will add more, but you will also remove works that you've completed or mastered or are not calling to your child's interests.
So, for month 1, you may have the following on your shelves (following the sample scheme):
- the Pink Tower
- sandpaper letters s, m, a, t
- basket of objects representing s, m, a, t
- pictures representing s, m, a, t
- any additional games for s, m, a, t (see Reading Games Curriculum)
- possibly a movable alphabet with s, m, a, t populated with letters
- a single tray containing painting supplies
- the number rods
- a single tray containing the science work for the week
- picture book(s) on matter and the states of matter
- other open-ended toys, handcrafts, or practical life work to vary the options on the shelves (These will all depend on your individual child's current interests, needs, and abilities. The RKW Preschool Curriculum includes tray activities for Bible, Colors, and Shapes that would also appear on your monthly shelves.)
Remember that your child needs time and space to make his own work choices.Even though you are only presenting one lesson each day, your child has plenty of "options" on the shelf with which he can choose to work. Give time and space for your child to make those choices! If you present a language lesson on Tuesday, he may choose to repeat that lesson again on Wednesday during his work time! It's so helpful to have extra choices, too, like puzzles, classified cards/3-part cards, handiwork (sewing, weaving, etc.), practical life (cutting with scissors, polishing, cleaning, organizing/sorting), and more.
Lastly, if your child is ready to move on in a subject during the free work time, and you are able to give another presentation, do it!This is your first step in following the child! Congratulations! Don't just follow the syllabus if you absolutely can help it. If your child is ready for more numbers of the number rods on the first day or second of your month, then present them! There are always more presentations and extensions that came come later. If he finishes and moves on, you may need to get out (or quickly make) the sandpaper numbers to have for your next math presentation day! What do you think about the monthly shelf setup plan? Share your planning strategies in the comments!
If you're looking for more lessons in the Montessori Homeschooling 101 series, here are the links:
- Lesson 1: Finding a Space to Do Montessori Lessons
- Lesson 2: Where to Buy Montessori Materials & DIY Alternatives
- Lesson 3: Setting Up Your First Month of Montessori Lessons
- Lesson 4: The Montessori Work Rug
- Lesson 5: The Montessori Work Cycle
- Lesson 6: The Montessori 3 Period Lesson
- Lesson 7: Freedom within Limits in a Montessori Homeschool
- Lesson 8: How to Follow Your Child
- Lesson 9: Incorporating Other Homeschooling Methods
- Lesson 10: Giving Yourself the Freedom to Leave Things Out
- Lesson 11: Working with Multiple Ages