The last half of 2016, Emmett and I were very loosely following the Whole Family Rhythms guides for both fall and winter. They were really wonderful and totally worth the money (highly recommend if you’re interested in Waldorf schooling methods), but a little advanced for his age, and though I love the structure and guidance they provided, I like a little bit more freedom and flexibility. So this month, I’ve begun putting together a 12-month “curriculum” for us to loosely follow and so far we are really enjoying it. Before you start saying to yourself, “my goodness, the kid’s only a year old, does he really need a program?” let me tell you that coming up with a little plan for our days has been just as beneficial for me as it is for Emmett. It gives me things to look forward to, a rough outline for our days and helps spark ideas for fun projects to do and outings to take together. Being just the slightest bit purposeful has really helped me embrace and enjoy being a stay-at-home mama.
I thought I’d check in on a monthly basis and give an update on how things are going, as well as share some of the resources we are using. So maybe at the end of each month I’ll try to share the things we’ve done\used and what we’ve liked, disliked or substituted. I borrowed the list of monthly themes from Natural Beach Living, though I plan to hold the themes with open hands and leave room for lots of spontaneity. And January was a bit all over the place since I spent the first half of the month getting this plan together. Open hands, people. Open hands.
Also, to give a bit of a disclaimer, I am by no means trained in any sort of child education. I’m simply taking some of the ideas I’ve learned in my research of Montessori, Waldorf and other homeschooling methods, and mixing them all together into a plan that I think will work for us. I’ll always try to share sources of inspiration as well as materials, but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Practical Life + Gross Motor- Practical Life in Montessori learning is just what it sounds like. Focusing on tasks that are a part of everyday, practical life. This month we’ve focused especially on setting up a rhythm for mealtime, cleaning, drinking water, helping put away dishes, having a regular snack time and teaching Emmett to help us get him dressed. We set up a little shelf (previously used for shoes) so he can have access to water, his dishes and utensils and take them to his table to use (eventually). We’ve also showed him how to use his beeswax crayons for coloring, though he’s mostly still interested in eating them at this point. Ha! He’s brushing his teeth every night, able to brush his hair and loves to hold things for you while you change his diaper. He’s been sitting on his little potty in the bathroom and it’s obvious he’s not sure why he’s there yet, but it’s pretty cute anyway.
He’s also in a serious gross motor stage, which I consider to be a huge part of practical life, so we’ve really encouraged those sorts of activities this month. He’s still playing regularly with his IKEA tunnel and Taylor taught him early on to “get down safely” from things, so he’s very confidently climbing up and down stairs, off our bed, on and off the furniture in our living room, and even climbing up the Stokke highchairs we have in the dining room. He’s had a few crashes and makes his mama nervous occasionally, but it’s so fun to see him push himself and how proud he is when he accomplishes something new.
We hit the Silverton Library early in the month and snagged the books in the above photo before we really decided to stick to the practical life theme, so they are a bit all over the place in subject matter. I mostly try to stick with the Montessori idea of reading stories that could actually happen- no animals who wear clothes or drive cars, etc.- but by no means am I a stickler. Emmett is pretty into lift-the-flap as well as anything related to farms or farm machinery so we always gravitate towards those types of books. Although, out of this collection, I think Honk, Honk, Baa, Baa was by far his favorite. Definitely adding that to the wishlist. The Trucks book was super cute but we have a lot of truck books, and he never seemed that into it. We’ll try to stick to more of our theme in February.
We have books accessible in pretty much every room in the house, but the three main areas are the Living Room, Emmett’s Room and the Office. These two photos are the books from our own collection that were available to him this month in the Living Room and Office. The shelf in his room holds the rest of his collection, and I think I’ll stick with that system as we go forward so he still has a variety of books to choose from (outside the monthly theme) for nap and bedtime reading.
Numbers, Colors, Shapes. My First Signs. Trucks. Colors. My First Basketball Book. Let’s Count Oregon. Baby Animals. Animals. Animal Alphabet. Whose Tools. Vehicles (from Costco). First 100 Words. The Toolbox. Me & Dad (A Pinhole Press book).
This month we kept things pretty quiet overall, but did manage a few adventures. We hit the Silverton Library for books, visited Dad on the Farm and drove some machinery and just last week we went Snowshoeing in the Santiam Pass. Emmett busting a gut at our terrible puppeteering skills was a highlight.
I didn’t take photos of all of the shelves we had set up this month, mostly because they weren’t totally geared towards our theme, so I just picked out a few favorites. The cart, scooter and basket of balls are probably this month’s most-loved items by far. Within 5 minutes of being set down in the living room, those balls are being thrown and chased all across the room. He hasn’t quite figured out how to sit and scoot on the “four-wheeler” as we call it, but he sure enjoys climbing up there and making engine sounds. His barn and tractor have been consistent favorites, and I’ll probably keep both accessible in his room year-round as he is growing up on a farm and it just seems relevant.
Toddle Wagon. Radio Flyer Ride Scoot to Pedal. Sports Balls (mostly from Target). Stacking Rings. Farm Threading Toy (Similar here). Memory Game. Xylephone. Terra Barn. Schleich Animals. John Deere Tractor (a gift from my brother).
Each month I’m planning to put together a Spotify playlist along the lines of our theme, as well as whatever holidays happen to pop up. I’m pretty excited about this one. This month’s playlist has everything from national anthems to Raffi, Bing Crosby to Bob Marley. I’m loving it already, just one day in.
And that’s it for now! I hope to have a much more detailed post for next month since I’m actually following some sort of plan, but we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for following along on our Year of Montessori Learning!