These long winter days cooped up inside with the tot has compelled me to look around for some decent homeschooling materials to keep my three-year-old occupied. After trawling around for preschool worksheets, I stumbled on some free Montessori printouts, and onto ever more links of Montessori materials.
This all brings me down memory lane, as I spent two years of my childhood in a Montessori school — which I remember as some of the best years of my young life. My teacher, Anne — a soft-spoken Irishwoman who always had the most beautiful dangly earrings — guided me through two years of self-guided activities (my favourite things to do were to read, write stories, and handle those distinctive Montessori coloured beads that taught the progressive concepts of counting, multiplication, exponentials, etc.).
It was only after my transfer to a ‘regular’ school in grade four, and in much later hindsight, that I realize what a precious treasure the Montessori method is, especially in the early years (my thanks to my hard-working mom, who had the great foresight to send me to such a school). It is based on educating the whole child:
It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.
It was also much later that I learned about Maria Montesorri, the woman behind it all.
Montessori was Italy’s first woman doctor, and was a real pioneer in the field of education, as her scientifically- and experientially-based pedagogic methods went against the rigid conventions of the time. Even now, Montessori’s methods are the exception rather than the norm in schools, even though there are increasingly clearer insights into the nature, evolution and neuroscience of a child’s cognitive development which corroborate Montessori’s astute insights of a hundred years ago.
In any case, if early homeschooling is something you as a parent are considering, alternative methods like that of Montessori’s is worth looking into, and thanks to the almost-miracle of the Internet, it’s easy to find materials. Check out these informative videos and some of the sites you can download Montessori materials below.
Free Montessori printouts