Montessori homeschooling vs. Unschooling? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 01-04-2010, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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What's the difference or is there a difference?
I've always considered us Unschoolers; however, yesterday when my 3yo was pouring her own juice, the word Montessori popped into my head. I had looked into Montessori years ago when my ODS was a baby (12yo now) and just remember it being very much about independent learning and being self-sufficient.
A while back I bought a small pitcher to hold juice/milk that was just the right size for dd (3yo) (and my ds-5yo) to handle. I'm always there, but I allow her to get the cup and pitcher out, pour her drink, and put everything back away. She loves this and always pours everyone's drink for dinner. She's so proud of herself.

Anyways, we do lots of things like this. She cooks every meal with me (washing potatoes, cracking eggs, shucking the corn, etc...)

So, I was just wondering....what is the difference between the two styles?
I definitely know what we arn't, but sometimes I don't think there is a label for what we are. kwim?

Not that there needs to be... Just curious of y'alls opinions between the styles?

Jesus-loving, helpmate to Billy and Unschooling mama to a six and one on the way!
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#2 of 4 Old 01-04-2010, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by slingmama4 View Post
What's the difference or is there a difference?
One of the main points that come to mind is that Montessori was developed for a classroom and for special needs kids. It was/is a method of teaching groups of children who, (by virture of being schooled) have been removed from every day life. So the focus towards things like real tools was an effort to re-create real life in the classroom.

With unschooling, kids are already living in world at large, so there's no need to re-create it.

But also, while Montessori values following the child's lead, it's still an arrangement by which the teacher presents information for the child to learn, the child then explores it, and later proves mastery.

There are parts that sound unschooly to me--waiting until a child shows interest or readiness, for instance, but the set-up, the "work stations" and required learning periods, the idea that there are sensitive periods of development and the created environment all conflict with my idea of unschooling.

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#3 of 4 Old 01-15-2010, 10:34 AM
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I'll just add that Montessori's materials allow children to have access to concepts that might be a little way away from them otherwise. For example, we were eating out the other day, and DS noticed multiplication on the kids' menu, and asked about it. I told him that I could show him how to work those out if he wanted to. I just gave him a Montessori multiplication board, and away he went. I am a former Montessorian myself, and I have always believed that Montessori developed her "prepared environment" so that children could have the "keys to the Universe". (these are all Montessori terms).

The children in her original children's house (school) were so-called "deficients" and their parents were totally unavailable to them (they were day workers in factories) and the children had very limited stimulation at home. Montessori strongly believed in the spiritual and emotional development of the child, encouraged by lots of affection and respect.

I would call us Montessori unschoolers. I take advantage of the materials when my children show an interest. I also allow them to do many, many home activities themselves by giving them the right tools, and trusting them to use glass and ceramic, even at 2. I put dishes and snacks in the cupboard so that they can serve each other. We are very big on serving at our house! My children well know that a little grace and courtesy go a very long way in life.

Elizabeth Hainstock has good writings on this, as does Paula Polk Lillard. I think that Montessori's The Absorbent Mind is a great unschooling text! I have a lot of respect for Montessori's ideas -- she was a real revolutionary - a single mom (physician!) at the turn of the twentieth century!

Jean, happy HS mom to Peter (5), Daniel (9) and Lucie (2) and also someone new... baby.gif
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#4 of 4 Old 01-15-2010, 07:22 PM
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Here's a fairly recent thread on this same topic....

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