And finally, the thrilling conclusion of our continuing series...(In case you missed them, here are Part One and Part Two.)
"How hard could it be..."
Those words were ringing in my ears..."How hard could it be?"
Well, HARD! First of all, although Montessori is not trademark-able and any school can call itself a Montessori school, finding information on how to teach (i.e., "present") the materials was not easy! I read many books, including Elizabeth Hainstock's Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years and The School Years and David Gettman's Basic Montessori. The Hainstock books were good - I came away from them thinking, "I can do this - no sweat," but the Gettman book was enough to have me breathing out of a brown paper bag again.
And although those books were a good starting point, I had more materials than I had information for. After searching and searching online for and through Montessori teaching "albums," as they're called, I finally called in the cavalry: my husband. He is a researcher-extraordinaire, and (literally) within 15 seconds, he had found this site. Now we were getting somewhere!
I created my own Montessori teaching albums, and then I started freaking out again. Every night I would sit down with my albums and my materials and practice presenting them, and then the room would start spinning (My husband has been very supportive through all of this - there has been MUCH hand-holding). Montessori materials, although deceptively simple-looking at first, are layers and layers deep (Maria Montessori was a genius - she's totally on my list of three people living or dead that I would invite to dinner). Everything builds on everything else, and I felt really overwhelmed with the order in which I was to present everything (our preschool will have different students at different ages and different stages of development - more on that in a future post).
Fortunately, I also had discovered a wonderful Montessori blogging community that reaches out and tries to demystify Maria Montessori's methods somewhat (thank you!). I came across this post, and it was the Aha! moment I needed. Stephanie over at Montessori Free Fall mentioned that, "Math activities shouldn't be introduced until period three..." Period three, period three...what was she talking about and how did she know that!!? I delved deeper into her blog, and - OF COURSE! - it was the Gettman book! That dreadful book that had me breaking out in hives had an overview of the order in which to present everything!! I had read that at some point and then completely forgotten about it! Once I had the materials, the album, and the order, I started to calm down. A little bit.
Finally, I started thinking about it like this: It's just preschool. I mean, seriously, if we start this preschool and it's a complete failure, then I've failed - at preschool. Many kids don't even go to preschool! So although I completely respect and admire Maria Montessori and want to honor the brilliance of her teaching methods, I'm going to try to relax a little and know in my heart that our students will come away from this effort knowing a lot more than they did going in.
School starts a week from tomorrow, and I'm thrilled, nervous, terrified, and every emotion imaginable. I hope you'll stay tuned to see how the story unfolds!