Welcome to the Montessori in Motion homeschool! Like so many of you, Bridget gave distance learning a try last spring and decided that homeschooling was the best option for her family. Monti Kids is thrilled to share her expertise in this space.
I have always avoided turning our home into a classroom. It felt unnecessary because my children's learning needs were already met by their school, but this year is different. When we decided to withdraw from distance learning and create a Montessori homeschool, I knew that I wanted to set up a classroom space at home for them.
Most Montessori classrooms are separated between 0-36 months and 3-6 years. My children are Camden (5.5) and Marley (just turned 3). We also have a family friend, sweet 7-month-old baby L, who joins us in the mornings. Hence, I wanted to create two distinct areas in the classroom, a baby space for L and our own version of a primary classroom for Camden and Marley, to keep them engaged, and happily learning.
After moving into our house 2 years ago, our basement had only been a storage room, so we decided to repurpose the space for our homeschool classroom. Having our classroom in a separate room from our living space gives the children a chance to “enter” school in the mornings “leave” school at the end of the day.
My biggest goal in creating our homeschool classroom was to make a prepared environment that encourages self-directed learning and independence while fostering a love of learning. There are so many different ways to make a Montessori homeschool work in your house, here is a peek at what our family is doing.
Mixed Age Environment: Perfect for a Montessori Homeschool
With three children in the house, our classroom offers a natural mixed age environment. Marley often watches when I give lessons to Camden and is absorbing so much wonderful information just from watching him work. As the oldest child, Camden gets to set an example for his sister and help her when needed. Baby L is constantly learning from both older children.
I wanted Marley (3) to be successful transitioning into our homeschool classroom, so I have many familiar materials out on her shelves. This is helpful because it gives her confidence in her abilities and it also gives her something meaningful to do when I am working with her brother. Monti Kids Level 8 was especially helpful! It is right at her level of learning, so she is happily engaged with her work.
Our classroom has a large comfortable work rug. Around the rug are three Sprout Luce shelves with one shelf each dedicated to math, language, and sensorial materials. At this age, the children work independently, so we also have two Sprout work tables and one small Chowki floor table that can be used on the rug.
Montessori Homeschool Basics: Free Choice Opportunities
We start each day with circle time on the rug where we update the calendar and use the weather wheel to talk about the day’s weather. Then we move into a three-hour work cycle that ends at lunchtime.
Having the majority of our materials out on the shelves gives the children the ability to choose what they want to work on, rather than me setting an agenda for the day.
Our only rule is that they have to have had a lesson on a material before it is available to them. Other than that, they have free choice in their work. Right now, Camden is particularly engaged with the beautiful and well designed Waseca Biomes Reading Program (rainbow drawers) and Marley focuses mostly on practical life activities.
Practical Life Activities
Practical life is the heartbeat of our home. We work together as a family to care for our home, which provides so many natural opportunities for practical life activities that I rarely put any practical life activities on a shelf. In our classroom though, we have a shelf dedicated to more traditional Montessori practical life activities that we don’t routinely use in our house.
These activities give Marley the chance to strengthen her fine motor skills and coordination, practice following a sequence, develop concentration, and gain independence. This shelf is where Marley spends most of her time.
She adores polishing, so we have shoe polishing, metal polishing, and wood polishing sets out for her. We also have dusting, some early sewing activities and traditional Montessori hand-washing.
One of her dearest ambitions is to learn how to button, and the Monti Kids dressing frame is perfect for learning that skill.
I wanted to make our library a cozy little nook for the children to use when they need a break. Our library has a comfortable chair, a small lamp, and a forward-facing bookshelf that lets them easily choose the book they would like to read.
Brandi Reyna’s paintings are hung at the child's height so they can admire her work. I appreciate these original pieces because the children can see the texture of the paint on the canvas.
At 7 months-old, L has just started to crawl. We have a mat on the ground that provides protection during inevitable tumbles but is firm enough for her to easily move around.
The mirror provides her a view of her own body and a different view of the room. There is a pull-up bar positioned above the mat so that she will be able to pull herself to standing when she is ready.
She also has an infant shelf from Sprout that is currently full of gorgeous Monti Kids baby toys. Her two favorites are the Dolio rattle and the interlocking discs that roll just far enough away for her to crawl to retrieve, but not so far that it is frustrating. At this point, she naps for most of the morning work period and is happy to play in this space until lunch.
Art Center In Our Homeschool
The art area in our classroom is simple. We have an easel, watercolors, clay, a lovely Monti Kids gluing set and cutting strips and pin poking from the 2 & Up Montessori Guide.
Each morning, we make tea together and enjoy it with a self-serve snack. I bring down food each morning so that we don’t need to interrupt our morning work cycle. This also offers many organic practical life opportunities: serving food, pouring, transferring and cleaning up. They also have access to a drinking water station, so they can independently get water when they are thirsty.
Child's Height Sink
One of my favorite parts of our classroom is our sink which is at a child's height. We replaced the utility sink in our basement with a floating sink that is designed to mount to the wall. The cabinet is only 24 inches tall, which is a perfect size for children to use. The faucet is sold separately and can be found here.
I have never done any plumbing and was able to do this project all on my own! By eliminating the need for a stool, they are able to use the sink more easily and comfortably. It sends the message that this is a space just for them.
Having a separate space for our homeschool classroom where the children have access to a variety of materials has given the children enough independence in their learning space that I am able to work with one child while the other is engaged. While this year certainly has its challenges, I am so thankful that I am able to watch them make connections and discoveries during our school days.
We’ve set up an entire classroom in our home, but this could be simplified to a shelf for each child and a table or two. Using child-sized furniture will keep them comfortable for longer and give them a feeling of ownership over the space. Ensuring that your child feels challenged yet capable in their work will foster their love of learning, and Monti Kids can help you with just that.
Bridget is a Montessori mama and co-author of The Montessori Guide, a month-by-month guide for helping parents use Montessori at home. She shares inspiration for using Montessori at home with young children.