In September of 2007, when our oldest daughter was just about to turn 3, we enrolled her in a small, private Montessori school about 9 miles from our house. My husband is a former Montessorian, and he and I both really admire Maria Montessori's teaching methods and had decided to educate our kids the Montessori way.
At first, everything was great. Our youngest daughter at the time had just turned one, and she enjoyed the ride back and forth to drop off and pick up big sis. We really liked our daughter's teachers, she liked them, and they liked her. The things she was learning were amazing, and I would say we were definitely happy customers.
Over time, though, some issues cropped up that were hard to ignore. First of all, after a while it became clear that our daughter's classmates were rubbing off on her, and not in a positive way (I love the mixed-age aspect of Montessori, but some things that may sound acceptable coming from a six-year-old do not sound the same coming from a three-year-old). Second, the commute was starting to take its toll. Nine miles may not sound like a lot (it certainly didn't to me), but around here, with traffic and zig-zag streets and no direct route anywhere, the nine miles took a solid thirty minutes. As our younger daughter got older, I felt worse and worse about strapping her in a car seat for two hours a day just to get her older sister to and from school. Third was God, or should I say the lack of God. Although our daughter goes to Sunday School at our church, we wanted the Bible to be more than just one hour of her week, and we felt like we were really missing out on an opportunity to teach her about God daily. And those were just a few of my concerns as re-enrollment rolled around.
Through our church, I know a LOT of families who homeschool, but that didn't seem like an option when we were dedicated to going through preschool the Montessori way. Toward the end of the school year, I was in my daughter's classroom to observe all of the wonderful things she did there during the day, and I started looking around. Finally it occurred to me: I could do this myself! DUH! Her school had to buy Montessori materials from someone - perhaps those same people would sell materials to me!
I did some research, and for a mere fraction of what we were paying to enroll her in school, I could buy an entire preschool's worth of Montessori materials. I mentioned the idea to my husband, who took it one step further - why don't you ask some other mothers you know if they'd want to do it with you?
Stay tuned for Part Two of "Our Montessori Backstory..."