Blog Archive

This post contains links to products on Amazon. If you purchase items through these links, I receive a small percentage of every sale.

How We Do Montessori Middle School at Home

This year we have made the transition from a Montessori elementary focused homeschool experience to one that is Montessori middle school focused. 

I won't lie. The transition has been a work in progress and has taken most of the school year. 

We started this journey in September. Now, in March the kids are finally settling into it and are enjoying most moments.

Instead of transitioning to a Montessori-inspired middle school model all at once, we've introduced it piece by piece over the school year.

I did this to prevent unnecessary meltdowns and negative behaviors. 

I am so excited to finally share the many phases of this transition and how we do Montessori middle school in our homeschool environment.

How We Do Montessori Middle School at Home

How Do I Know it's Time to Switch to a Montessori Middle School Approach to Learning?


At the beginning of the school year, my three older children were ages 12,13, and 14 and documented by our school district as being in grades six, seven, and eight.

Dinomite, 14, and Bulldozer, 13, are autistic and have developmental delays as well as academic delays in the areas of math and writing. On average they're about two to three years behind their peers.

Princess, 12, who suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder, is quite advanced in academics, but struggles with emotional development.

As a result, all three are learning the same things at the same time, at about the same pace.

Due to the three kids' interests, learning preferences, and the concept of following their lead, we are still working on some Montessori elementary curriculum, especially in the areas of language and math. 

But, what I've noticed this year, is that the kids prefer learning using paper and pencil, over the use of Montessori materials and printables.

They are craving research and showing an interest in writing assignments that are larger in nature.

Emotionally they are at a place where they can handle homework, studying, and preparing for tests. In fact, they've requested these things. 

I love their new desire to practice and master a skill over an extended period of time. Their piano and foreign language skills are blossoming this year.

For us, the transition to Montessori Middle School wasn't about the curriculum and checking off boxes in regards to what the kids had learned. It was about HOW the kids' preferred learning styles were changing.

This change in learning style is directly related to brain development and the planes that Maria Montessori speaks about.

How Do I Change the Learning Environment to Accommodate Montessori Middle School Learning?


I must admit, the hardest aspect of transitioning to a Montessori-inspire middles school environment for me was changing my classroom set up.

I LOVED the Montessori preschool classroom with all of the beautiful and attractive work set up on trays for the kids to choose from. 

I LOVED preparing the trays!

When we transitioned to an elementary set up, I learned to love the bigger materials and bigger work.

Instead of using trays and baskets for individual activities, they were used to store printables that went along with materials.

In both preschool and elementary settings, I was still able to set up an area of the classroom for each subject.

But the transition to middle school...

There are no more trays or baskets, except for those that hold paper for writing.

There is no longer a set of shelves for each subject. 

Instead, the kids use one shelf for each subject they're studying, where they store their notebooks, textbooks, workbooks, reference materials, and necessary tools like calculators, protractors, rulers, etc.

The rest of the classroom has turned into my office and storage for important papers.

If the kids had desks, notebooks, textbooks, workbooks and tools would be stored there, leaving only references for each subject on the shelves. But, they still very much enjoy working wherever they'd like in the house, and have opted to use the shelves to store items.

We all use dry erase lapboards when learning a new skill and for practice.

How Do I Create Middle School Routines and Schedules?


Settling into a new routine and schedule definitely took time when transitioning into Montessori-inspired middle school learning.

Based on the kids' skills, abilities, and needs we have created a routine and schedule that works for us. This may not be a set up that works for you, and that's okay.

Lessons


Monday through Friday, we begin with math and language, reviewing assignments and progressing through lessons. 

The kids receive math and language homework four days a week.

Lessons go at the kids' pace. Some new concepts take only a day to master. Others can take a week or two. 

When everyone feels comfortable understanding concepts and any processes that are necessary to solving problems, we move forward.

After math and language lessons, we rotate through other subject areas. We follow an eight day schedule. Each day of the eight day schedule is dedicated to a different subject. The eight day schedule is followed Monday through Thursday.

The kids have selected which topics they'd like to study for the school year, outside of the basic subject areas.

  • Day 1: Geography
  • Day 2: Human Anatomy
  • Day 3: Art
  • Day 4: Foreign Language
  • Day 5: Oceanography
  • Day 6: Practical Life
  • Day 7: Music
  • Day 8: History

If it's Day 4 of our schedule, I present a foreign language lesson, review any assignment that was given, and check in to see where the kids are at, and if they need extra support.

At the end of the review and lesson, the kids are given an assignment to complete by the next Day 4 in the schedule. 

The kids are also given daily practice assignments. 

On foreign language days, they may receive a new vocabulary list or a set of verbs to practice until the next scheduled foreign language day.

Their favorite foreign language assignment is to watch a full movie in their foreign language, writing down ten new vocabulary words or phrases and meanings to share when we next meet.

Disney+ is such a fantastic resource to find movies in Spanish, French and German with matching subtitles. 

The kids watch a new movie every week, because they love this assignment so much. 

Their ability to read and pronounce words in their selected foreign language is skyrocketing.

Work Time


Lessons for the day usually take about 60-90 minutes. The kids are then given work time where they have a choice of working on any assignments they feel they may need help on.

I am available during that time to answer any questions or provide any extra support that may be needed.

Rough drafts of essays are reviewed. 

Art projects are underway. 

The computer may be occupied with one of the kids typing a final draft of a paper.

If someone is struggling in math, that kid may take that time to ask for help.

The kitchen may smell of fresh ingredients being used in the preparation of lunch.

Nature observations may be underway.

On days when everyone needs help, I set a timer for each child, giving them 20-30 minutes.

Work time lasts between 90 minutes and 2 hours, and takes us to lunch time, where we continue our read aloud tradition.

Homework


After the lunch, the kids are free to create their afternoon and evening schedule to ensure that all homework assignments and daily practice tasks are complete.

Each day the kids are required to complete 30 minutes of cardio exercise. They usually choose to play sports outside or ride my exercise bike.

All three kids are also required to practice piano for 30 minutes each day to prepare for their lessons on the music day of our schedule.

Other tasks include studying, math and language homework, essays, and projects they're working on.

The kids choose what and when they work on these things, knowing when they are due. 

During homework time, I am not available to help. They are to complete assignments on their own or ask a peer for help.

Homework time, including exercise and piano, usually takes anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, give or take.

The goal of homework time is to encourage as much independence as possible in the areas of time management, effective study methods, and responsibility of assignments.

In our home, we have a designated media time from 6 PM until 8 PM where the kids can use any and all of their media devices, watch TV, etc. All of them finish their homework, eat dinner, do chores, and shower before media time begins, creating their own schedule for the afternoon based on their individual needs.

Friday Game Day


As mentioned previously, Monday through Thursday, we follow our eight day schedule. On Fridays, we take a break and dedicate time to playing a board game or card game together during work time.

We have found that Game Day is just as important as any other day in the week. So much learning takes place on Game Day.

The kid work on communication skills, emotional regulation, problem solving, strategizing, working as a team (when playing cooperative games), positive peer interactions, and so much more.

We take turns picking out a game. A new person selects a game each week. 

Even the process of playing a game that's not a favorite, because someone else has chosen it, is teaching the kids so much about compromise.

I think my favorite part about Game Day is that Fridays are always a day the kids look forward to. They may think it's just about fun, but they're actually working harder on Fridays than some other days during the week.  Lol.

How Do I Incorporate Service into a World with COVID-19 and Other Extenuating Circumstances


Part of the Montessori middle school curriculum is service. This was the last piece of the middle school experience that we've added.

Due to COVID-19 and Sunshine's monthly visits and appointments, it's been difficult to secure a place for continued service over an extended period of time.

Instead, we have set the goal of completing one service project a week. The kids come up with the plans. They prepare. Then they execute the task.

I love that they are focusing so much on helping others and starting to develop skills necessary to secure employment in the future.

How Do I Continue to Inspire a Love of Learning through the Middle School Years


The transition to homework, tests, and grades can be a difficult, but it is necessary in preparation for higher education and employment. 

Learning time management, prioritization and organization skills can be a huge challenge for some. 

The sooner we can start teaching these skills, once the child is emotionally and developmentally able to handle the tasks, the better the results will be.

The challenge is keeping the focus on the process and not the results. It's not about the test grade. It's about preparing and being ready for the test.

So how do you balance all of the necessary and still make things fun?

You continue to follow the child!

You go at the child's pace.

You allow freedom to choose course work in areas where it is possible.

You introduce topics, and wait for further interest before pursuing them.

You offer choices in learning and how to demonstrate mastery of a skill.

Every child is different. 

This idea does not change once a child reaches puberty and embarks on their middle school journey.

If anything, middle schoolers need even more support than elementary students, due to the massive changes their bodies and hormones are going through.

Despite these changes, middle schoolers are capable of so many incredible things! 

Sit back. Relax. And enjoy the ride!

Now that we have fully transitioned to this model I am LOVING it!

If you would like to read what others have to say about Montessori Middle School, check out the articles below.



If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the following resources below.

Gingerbread Christmas STEM Projects American History for Kids: The Montessori Way A Year's Worth of Monthly Service Projects for Families 12 Months of Family Service Projects Best Tips for Montessori Homeschooling The Ultimate Montessori Planner

No comments:

Post a Comment