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November 02, 2008

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Jennifer

Just a note to say 'hi' and that I do find this all very interesting.

Juli

I do enjoy hearing of all of your trials and errors and "picking yourself back up". It's always reassuring to know that I'm not alone.

Erin

I really enjoy reading your weeks in review, be assured they are inspiring too.

Ah Reggio Emilia now I get it a little more, I'll follow your links and read, and I get your choice time too. I think the best thing that I have taken from Montessori and sounds like you have too is the philosophy. You can adapt the to other approaches that may suit your child's personality better. It sounds like the Waldorf art is what drew you too Waldorf. Isn't it great when we have those lightbulb moments:)

Theresa

Very interesting. I think we are on similar paths. I also seem to be taking from Montessori the same things you are--the environment, the choice, the respect for the child, etc. I do like the math materials and some of the language stuff, but we are also not fans of 3-part cards here. BORING!LOL! We are never going to be purists at anything, which is fine. I'll read some more on Reggio Emilia.... it does sound a lot like what you and I both do. Gosh, we are such a mish-mash of things! We have been craving additional art here, too. I just put in a huge order to Dick Blick and we'll see what comes of that.
Emergent...I like that!Sounds so much better than "winging it." LOL!

Amy

Pretty much "dittoing" everyone else! So I'll just say hi. :) I'm so glad you had a successful week. I can't wait to learn more about Reggio Emilia.

melanie

Angela, hang in there girl.. you are doing a tremendous job. I'm interested in what you come up with too. Please teach us more! How do you get the basics like math, spelling, grammar, learning to read etc... done?

I want to have more fun in our school.. it's such a drag these days, and SO HARD TO DO WITH TWINS running around. ARGH! How do you meet the needs of all the kids? I too feel like i'm failing in the preschooler department. I'm always trying to think of ways to distract them, and get them out of my hair so I can get math and grammar and writing done with the older two.

Hannah

I have been reading your blog a little bit the last few weeks...I had never heard of Reggio and vaguely of Waldorf, but we are doing Montessori here and just LOVE it. I have a 5, 3 and 1 year old, but I have a 4 year old come for preschool too, and my 1 year old goes to her house for 3 mornings a week.

I understand what you're saying about art...I have playdough out on the shelf all the time, as well as bins of markers and crayons, and they are in use every day. We also have various other art projects that rotate as space on the shelves is available. What I love about Montessori is it encourages children to use the art materials, as well as other materials, whenever they feel the urge, and for as long as they want, but they are always able to get the materials out entirely by themselves. Sometimes my children will use play-dough for almost the whole morning for multiple days in a row...and I have to bite my tongue or I would make them stop and choose something more academic. But it tends to get out of their system, and then they move on by their own free will and do great work in other areas.

I would encourage you, without knowing really how your school day goes, to continue letting them use the art materials...and also to give Montessori a shot again. I don't have a lot of the language and math work out yet, but even the practical life materials would give your younger children something to do. It's as easy as putting out some trays with pouring, scooping, and tonging work. You could have a bowl of kidney beans with a few spoons and scooping cups in it. Put a couple rubber stamps and a stamp pad and sponge on a tray. Put the first few pieces of a puzzle in a basket, along with the completed picture, and let them figure it out, and then add a couple new pieces every day. Put a container of stickers next to some paper that has drawn lines or dots on it, and let them cover up the lines or dots with stickers. Put a one-hole punch on a tray with paper strips, and show them how to punch the paper and make little holes.

My just turned three year old has really enjoyed school this year...and I have found that the process is just as important as the work accomplished. Having rules about using the things on the shelves really makes school more appealing- they are not allowed to just use the materials willy-nilly or I will put them away. They must wash their hands before touching anything on the shelves, and then must use a floor mat,table mat or art mat (unless it's a puzzle or something that needs a hard surface). They must clean up completely before choosing another work. They must ask to watch someone else work, and turn around and walk away if the answer is no (but they have learned that if they say yes more often, a yes is more often given to them when THEY ask to watch). All these rules (while they may seem restrictive) actually make the materials more appealing, ensure they are kept in good shape, and give the children freedom to work without being bothered. Again, I just love it and my children are thriving. I hope this helps you a little (or anyone else reading this...)

Kerry

Hi Angela,
I am so glad you have this topic going. In my master's degree program (early childhood ed) there has been a real emphasis on Reggio. My advisor there is actually Elizabeth Jones, who "wrote the book" on Emergent Curriculum. I really enjoyed using all of those ideas with young ones, but I've been more hesitant about implementing it with school age kids. I do know that my kids absolutely *thrive* when I let myself go that route, and I am trying harder to do it more consistently. Thank goodness for the internet, and for your blog and Theresa's - they help me so much!

Lori

angela, so great to see you trying out a reggio-inspired approach -- hope it continues to go well!

Kelly

As a math science teacher there are so many places to go with art - it can't be ignored! With statuary you could look at proportions (golden ratio is SO COOL - especially if you're geeky) and then it could head for da vinci and how he drew everything and invented neat things. AND THEN discuss how he used cadavers to draw what was INSIDE of people which could lead to a whole NEW area of science investigations. This doesn't even include the poetry and writing that could be inspired by their statues as well as the researach and data compiling on styles similar to theirs.

Find your stride and follow it - I just wish I could pull mine out and just teach them HOW to connect ideas- maybe one day.

Jennifer Mackintosh

I'm always so late to these wonderful ideas. Having never heard of Reggio philosophy until just recently I'm really intrigued by your posts, Angela.

I'm slow getting around in the blogosphere lately - which probably accounts for why I'm so slow learning about this philosophy...but I'd really like to learn more and hear how this is working for you.

In particular, I'm interested to hear if this philosophy is almost like a bridge between Montessori offerings and the reality of a chaos-filled day allowing for more freedom and less planning????

It seems to *fit* with all that I love about Montessori's philosophy while allowing for my own creative interpretation of the children's needs and desires....I'm just rambling now - I need to look into this.

You do inspire hope though, Angela!

umm

Hi,
I'm new to your blog-Thank you for being so honest about the ups and DOWNS of homeschooling life!
Your perseverance is an inspiration to me.I'd love to know about the Reggio approach, they started to use alot of the ideas in UK Pre-Schools.I try to use a lot of Montessori but sometimes makes me feel like a failure Mum when you just can't create that perfect environment...especially with such eager toddlers!I still try my best to follow the Montessori principles-independent learning,choice,control of error etc.... even if I can't follow the rest
Thanks for sharing!

Amber

WoW! I could have written this post myself!!! Except I only have 2 chipmunks in the house ;)

No, I couldn't have written it because I am not doing the amazing job that you are doing... (yet ;) but I identified with so much that you are saying. I love love love Montessori. But I find it so hard to do! I have such faith in it but I also know that it requires certain elements to *really* work & I'm spending a lot of time at the moment wondering if it can happen at home.

My mind flips between certainty (about going ahead and homeschooling with Montessori as the basis) & complete confusion... should we move so that we can enroll them at a real Montessori school??

I also see exactly what you mean about art. My bugs want to be artistic all day long. Yes paint. Yes chalk. Yes pencils. I'm *sure* there'd be a big Yes if I got some soapstone out! But they really do hesitate to get out the language + Maths Montessori work. Now, I don't think that the M work isn't amazing I just think that *maybe* they need to be in a real classroom with their peers (whom they are not related to :) working on those materials for them to really shine? I really (and clearly!) don't know but it's food for thought...

Anyways, thanks so much for this post & also for the tours through your learning space. I really enjoyed it. I hadn't stopped by your blog for ages (since the 4RealL forums had a Montessori section) but will endeavour to stop by more regularly now :)

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