We have this idea in our heads (usually from images on social media) of what Montessori homeschool preschool is *supposed* to look like, but how do you get to that point? Shouldn’t your children be sitting calmly for Circle Time and then choosing one material after another to work with independently for a 3 hour work cycle while you quietly sit in the corner and observe???
Um… no. That is NOT what your first day of homeschool preschool will look like — or even your 30th day. Maybe not even your 100th.
The truth is, all of that takes time and a whole lot of modeling, reminding and redirection. Your first day of Montessori homeschool preschool will not last very long at all. Your child may not sit still for anything resembling a Circle Time, and she will probably misuse materials and leave them strewn about the room — and that’s *if* she’s interested in doing any of them at all. You will plan a bunch of things you’d like to present, and then do none of them. AND THAT’S OKAY.
The key is to lower your expectations and start small. This is new for you, and it’s new for your child. If you begin with the idea that it will look just like it looks on Instagram, you’re going to thwart your own efforts. Here are my tips for getting started with Montessori homeschool preschool:
- Set up your room, but don’t fill all of the shelves. Put out just 1 or 2 materials on each shelf, and make sure most of them are familiar to your child. If your child is on the older side, let her help!
- Figure out what time of day works best to spend in your homeschooling space. It doesn’t have to be in the morning just because that’s when everyone else does it. Maybe your child works best in the evening!
- Have some kind of auditory signal that it is time for homeschool preschool. Ring a bell, or turn over a rainstick. Let your child help with this!
- Gather for Circle Time. Have a centralized place where you can sit on the floor together. On day 1, keep it EXTREMELY short (like 3 minutes max) and do something that you have no doubt your child will be interested in — like reading a favorite book together or singing a song. Then tell your child that you have set up some new works for her.
- Plan on staying in the homeschool room for just 20 to 30 minutes on the first day. If it’s shorter than that, that’s fine! If your child does not want to leave after that time, that’s also fine! Over the next several weeks, you can gradually extend your homeschooling time — but it may never get to the 3 hour work cycle you would see in a Montessori classroom of 20-25 children. My own girls usually were ready to finish after about 2 hours, even when they’d been doing it for years.
- Spend most of your time during the first several weeks modeling bringing work from the shelf to a work space, using it, and then putting it back on the shelf. Even if that is the only “lesson” you present in that time.
- Plan what you’d like to present, and then be ready to throw those plans in the trash at a moment’s notice. I get it — that’s extremely frustrating. But it’s more important that you follow your child here than that you do everything *you* think needs to be done. Your child came with all the lesson plans she needs, as long as you observe her natural inclinations and skills.
At first, it will seem impossible. It will seem like you will *never* get to the point that others seem to be at on social media. But I promise that you *will* figure it out, and eventually the day will just flow. Not always, of course — because children don’t work that way, and neither do adults! But the majority of your homeschooling days will get to the point of normalization, where “the children are now working as if [you] did not exist,” and you can breathe a huge sigh of relief as you provide an amazing educational experience for your little ones.