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October 13, 2016

Supporting Your Child through Montessori Kindergarten

For the past several weeks, Henry has been adjusting to life as a member of a Children's House in a public elementary school. He's gone from the relaxed pace of our quiet homeschool classroom to a bustling Montessori community. With this has come some changes at home, some changes in him, and some changes for our family. 

{Below: Henry reads Maps}

As I have mentioned before, we no longer have traditional Montessori materials available to him at home. We reserve those for school only. We also no longer have a classroom or specific work time at home. But, this doesn't mean that we have stopped supporting his growth or development.

There are many things we do -- and you can do -- to support your Montessori child who attends school outside the home. One, we still prepare our environment for Henry's interests and needs. We still follow the basic tenants of creating an orderly, prepared environment for Henry that encourages his interests and independence. 

{Above: Henry reads Strawberry Pie; Below: Henry reads One Sock Puppet}

This includes picking the right kinds of materials to fit his needs. Unlike the Montessori materials, we try to stick with open-ended play materials. Things that promote play, creativity, independence, and peace. We want him to come home and be able to relax in a way that still supports all of the goals we are trying to reach in school. We avoid using screens -- being a screen-free(ish) family -- to distract him or entertain him. For us it also means lots of family time and avoiding group classes {for now.}

These types of materials can include art activities, building materials, cooperative games, board games, tools for exploring nature and science, and family {including baby dolls} and community figures for pretend play to process his emotions and social world. He also has some fantasy based toys which are harder to avoid as he enters a social world, but we do try very hard to limit these at home. 

Another thing we do to support his Montessori education is try to provide as many opportunities for gross motor and nature play as possible. While the Montessori classroom provides FAR more physical and sensorial opportunities than most traditional classrooms, it is still an indoor environment. In particular, I'm finding that one of the differences between a public Montessori and a private one is the lack of freedom to choose the outdoor environment. 

So, by the end of the day he needs that physical outlet. He needs to run, swing, hang, jump and ride. If that means bundling him up and letting him jump in freezing cold rain puddles, or run around all afternoon -- it just needs to be done. It has meant pulling out many indoor gross motor toys to give him all the opportunities he needs to get a sensory and physical release. 

{Above: Henry reads How to Make a Fort; Below: Henry and Morgan read Make Me a Pirate}

Finally, supporting him means creating a literacy rich environment. Reading is very important in our family. And, quite honestly, my children spend more time reading than they do with most other things in our home. While Henry is an emergent and sneaky reader -- preferring not to show us how much he actually can read -- it is still important for us to provide opportunities for him to read on his own and with us.

To create this environment, we provide a variety of interesting, beautiful and content rich books for him to explore. Like the amazing early readers from Home Grown Books seen in these pictures. These books allow him to practice his reading {if and when he chooses} and provide amazing prompts for creative and natural play. But, it also means providing wordless books where he creates the story, chapter books to read together, and non-fiction books to explore things that interest him. 

{Above: Henry reads Finger Painting}

It's been amazing to start to switch gears in our home and send Henry off to his own community. And, of course hard on this Mama's heart. But, the rewards! Like when I was taking these pictures and he spontaneously read one of the books on his own. His pride and joy was palpable. Or, how after we were done reading a book on forts, he creatively gathered and made one on his own. Providing hours worth of creative fun for him and Nora.
These moments, once again, remind me how incredibly grateful I am for the opportunities our Montessori lifestyle has provided! 

How do you support your Montessori kindergartner? What have you felt has been most important to promoting a successful school year? 

This post was sponsored. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. 

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