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Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1- Are your manuals an entire year’s curriculum?

A- Yes. See Bird's Eye View of the Year. The full year makes one complete cycle that circles back to the beginning of the Fall guide. The curriculum is more like a spiral in that each year it is used the child continues to learn at his or her own level and pace. In the classroom or small group situation the older child will be a model for the younger children and become the “expert’ as they themselves continue to learn on new levels, branching out into related areas of interest.

Q #2- How do I get started? Can I begin the curriculum in the middle of the year?

A- It is ideal to begin with the Fall guide. The Montessori materials are introduced sequentially beginning in the Fall guide.
However, if you are beginning in the middle of year you can combine two guides. You can begin with the current month, pulling out the theme material, suggested books and theme-related activities. The guides integrate the Montessori materials with a theme that was developed in my classrooms and based on Maria Montessori's cosmic education theme (also called the peace curriculum). The Montessori materials/equipment are introduced in sequential order beginning in the Fall guide so you would combine both guides.

For example:
If starting in the Winter you can combine the Winter and the Fall guides and use the Winter themes and introduce the Montessori materials as given in the Fall guide.

If starting in the Summer you can combine the Summer and the Fall guides and use the Summer themes and introduce the Montessori materials as given in the Fall guide. An advantage of this is you can go at a more leisurely pace (always go at the child's own pace anyway) and introduce the materials more slowly during the summer months and be less rushed to introduce everything in the Fall.

Q #2b- I wondered if we can start your curriculum with the Spring Guide or if we need to wait and start with the Fall Guide. I thought we might be missing something from the earlier parts of the year that might make it confusing for the children if we started with Spring. Please let me know what is best.
A- Most of the contents in the Spring guide are theme related. The Montessori materials are introduced in sequential order beginning in the Fall guide, and most are introduced by the end of the Winter guide. I would suggest to begin with the Spring guide now and just skip any lessons your child is not ready for until the following spring. It also depends on the age of the child. An older child may be ready for most of the lessons in the spring guide.

Q #3 Do I need to buy the Supplement?

A- The curriculum was developed in my Montessori classrooms for Montessori teachers. I learned that homeschool parents were using it too when they began asking for instructions for the Montessori lessons/materials. The Supplement to the Guides was developed as a result of these requests. The supplement gives an overview of the Montessori philosophy and instructions for all the Montessori materials as sequentially introduced in the guides. Montessori teachers find the supplement a useful and convenient reference and companion to the guides.

Q #4- Are the same guides used with 3 to 6 and 6 to 9?

A- Yes, Montessori elementary uses this same curriculum. The guides were originally developed in my primary (ages 3 to 6) classrooms. I learned later that teachers in the elementary level were using them too.

Q #5- How do you adapt the guides for ages 6 to 9?

A- See also Using the Guides with Ages 3 to 6 and Using the Guides with Ages 6 to 12 under "How to Use the Guides."
Because my training and experience is in the primary classroom I asked some of the elementary teachers using them what they did to adapt them for use in their classrooms. The teachers said they love the overall theme that requires only minor adaptation for the 6 to 9 classroom. The theme is based on Maria Montessori's cosmic education curriculum that is normally used in the elementary- also called the peace curriculum or the Five Great Lessons. The 6 to 9 age group follows individual interests with journaling, independent research, and group reports. The child is allowed to explore subjects in more detail and branch out into other areas of interest. Maria Montessori’s cosmic curriculum is introduced in the classroom guides for ages 3 to 6 at their own level, and then more fully developed and researched in the ages 6 to 9 classroom.

Recommended reference book for ages 6 to 12: The Advanced Montessori Method by the Clio Montessori series and available from the NAMTA website- www.montessori-namta.org

Q #6- How is the Peace Curriculum introduced?
A- The entire curriculum in the four guides makes up the Peace Curriculum and the Five Great Lessons. The Great Lessons are given in an integrated and informal way. We begin with the study of the child and his or her immediate environment, then to the big picture of the universe, and back to earth with the study of each continent in detail- maps, biomes, animals, people, and cultures. This helps the child connect with their own self and his or her feelings and needs and increases their sense of belonging and connection with everything as they discover that all living things have similar needs and wants. The informal Great Lessons introduce and integrate with all areas of the classroom (language, math, time lines, etc). The peace curriculum also includes the Grace & Courtesy lessons. Detailed instructions are given in the companion book, Supplement to the Guides: Instructions for the Montessori Work.

The formal introduction of the Great Lessons begins at the elementary level or earlier according to the readiness of the children. The stories are to be told in your own words, as simply or as complex as they are ready for. Instructions for the Great Lessons are in the Supplement to the Guides. The formal Great Lessons continue to integrate with all the areas of the classroom but in a more direct manner.

Reference for use with ages 3 to 6 (primary classroom): I Wonder What’s Out There: A Vision of the Universe for Primary Classes by Joanne DeFilipp with Aline D. Wolf, available at www.parentchildpress.com

Reference for use with ages 6 to 9:
Children of the Universe: Cosmic Education for the Elementary Classroom by Michael and D’Neil Duffy, available at www.parentchildpress.com

Q #7- Are the songs, poems, and fingerplays in the guides?

A- Most of the songs are in the guides. Some have only the words with a reference to an audio such as for traditional Native American songs. But in those songs a simple melody of your own could be used or you can say it as a simple chant.
Other songs have the words given and a note to put to a familiar melody. Some songs are original and others are in general use in schools and not protected by copyright law. Because of copyright law a few songs and poems are not given but a reference book or CD is noted.

Q #8- How do you get a 3 hour work time?

A- The ideal is a 2 to 3 hour work period, but this will vary according to age, interests, attention span, etc. Early in the year a 3 hour work period is usually not practical as the children have not yet “normalized” and may become restless after two hours or less. As the year progresses they will have received more lessons and developed self discipline and the ability to work on their own and for a longer length of time. In fact, they are often reluctant to put work away when it is time to stop, so give a gentle warning about five minutes before the work period is over. This can be done by softly singing “Time to put your work away, time to your work away, time to put your work away and come to the line (or whatever is next).” Just use a simple melody if you aren’t familiar with this song.

Q #9- Do you give group lessons?

A- This is left entirely up to the person using the guides. Schools where I have been use some initial group lessons in combination with individual lessons. In my experience, children observe better in a group. Whether group or individual, a lesson is given in such a way to entice the child into the process of the work, using words only if they are a part of the lesson with slight exaggeration of movements. A gentle and positive manner of the teacher makes a huge difference in the receptiveness of the children, whether it is a group lesson or an individual one. It also depends on the lesson being given as some are for use in small groups.

Q #10- How can I use the guides without feeling that I need to do almost everything?

A- There is enough material in the guides for about three years, so don’t try to do everything the first year. The curriculum will grow with the child each year it is used.

Many schools use a two or three year period to complete the curriculum cycle. The schools using the 3 year program like it because it is less rushed and a longer period of time is spent on a each study. I think this works well with elementary but I think primary children need to get the complete cycle or "big picture" in a one year period. Three years is a very long time to a 3 or 4 year old. But please note that I have not been in a school that uses the 3 year program to form a fair opinion of its use. The theme in the guides is versatile and it is possible to adapt it for use in a nine month, twelve month, or a two or three year program.

Q #11- Do I need to order the art manual or are the art lessons in the guides?

A- Art for the Montessori Classroom is a complete art teaching manual for preschool/primary and lower elementary and has a total of 248 pages. Gini is an artist with a BS in studio art. The art manual is perfect for the homeschool as well as the Montessori classroom because each art activity is set up on a tray for individual use.

The first 55 pages are not in the guides. They include setting up an art area, furniture, materials, supply lists, art terms, and recipes for materials. It also has multiple lessons for teaching each of the six elements of art and nine principles of design. Some of the lessons are repeated in sections 3 through 9 as a way to locate lessons by category such as by process, medium, three-dimensional art, recycled art, artists, world culture, and holiday art and does include some not in the guides. In the guides those theme lessons are integrated into the curriculum with no way to look them up or locate them. Section 10, theme-based art, is included in the guides in an abbreviated form. Chapter 10 has some lessons not in the guides plus a monthly art supply list for all that month's lessons and a little more details than there is room to include in the guides. If you are on a budget you can easily get by without the art manual the first year.

Q #12- Do the Yoga Command Cards have illustrations or pictures on them?

A- The Yoga Command Cards are designed to be used like traditional Montessori oral or written command cards so they do not have pictures. With younger children the cards are read aloud one step at a time and the child follows the verbal instruction. With older children it is fun to do with a partner where one child reads and the other follows the instructions.

Additional FAQ for Homeschool Use
Q #13- Can I use these guides instead of buying home schooling books for each subject?

A- The curriculum was developed in my Montessori classroom for Montessori teachers. I learned that homeschool parents were using it when they began asking for instructions for the Montessori lessons/materials. The Supplement to the Guides was developed as a result of these requests. The supplement gives instructions for using the Montessori materials as introduced in the guides and serves as a guide in making many of the materials. The Montessori curriculum uses a holistic and multiple intelligences approach rather than isolating each subject. The emphasis is not on taking tests or making grades, but following the interests and needs of the individual child. This curriculum gives a balanced and integrated method of introducing the child to the world and universe, including all the Montessori math, language, practical life, sensorial, science, culture, and geography materials.

Q #14- Are the various teaching procedures explained in a different text?

A- General guidelines are given in each guide as well as suggested books for further reading about the Montessori philosophy. Detailed instructions for using the Montessori materials are given in the Supplement to the Guides. See also question # 3.

Q #15- I am very interested in using the Montessori method for homeschooling in the early years, probably until 2nd grade. Then more than likely I will send them to school once my youngest is old enough to go so that I can afford tuition. My concern is will they be prepared by state standards using this Montessori curriculum?

A- As stated in question #9, this curriculum introduces the child to all areas of the Montessori curriculum. Requirements vary with each state and it remains the parent/teacher’s responsibility to investigate and comply with state standards.

Q #16- I am wondering if it is necessary or recommended to purchase Montessori equipment to make the curriculum effective.

A- The curriculum is designed to be used with Montessori materials. There are no other methods that I consider as effective and enjoyable as Montessori.
A large amount of Montessori materials can be hand made. In fact, most Montessori teachers make a majority of the materials in their classrooms.
The Supplement to the Guides gives instructions for using all the Montessori materials including detailed descriptions that assist in making them. A list of the most basic Montessori materials that are not hand made is included in the guides. While it is possible to use a minimum of materials, you would need to use traditional methods for areas where you don’t use Montessori materials. The guides are flexible in their use and they can be used solely for the themes if that is what you choose to do. See Bird’s Eye View of the Year for the yearly themes.

Recommended book with instructions and patterns for making Montessori materials for ages 3 to 6:
Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years by Elizabeth Hainstock

Recommended book for using and making Montessori materials for ages 6 to 12:
Teaching Montessori in the Home: The School Years by Elizabeth Hainstock

Q #17- I have 2 children, ages 3 and 1. I have been having some issues trying to teach them at the same time because of their ages right now. Do you have any suggestions since they are technically Primary and Toddler?

A- In Montessori schools toddlers are in a different classroom until they are 2 years 9 months. I realize it may be a challenge to keep the 1 year old engaged and not disturbing the older child’s work. You may need to keep certain materials with small pieces out of reach. A note of encouragement is I have visited toddler classrooms where the children are using materials properly and returning them to the shelves. The toddlers were using pouring water work and other practical life work, sorting and categorizing animal models, fruit and vegetable models, etc. I was amazed that the entire classroom was set up with the 4 areas (practical life, sensorial, language, and math) like a primary classroom. The naming and categorizing work uses three dimensional models whereas the primary has one step to abstraction by using pictures of the objects. They use larger objects for counting work and usually only go to 10. I think you will be amazed how much a toddler can do once they get settled into working with the materials.

One of the most important things to remember is to follow the child. The child has an innate ability to select and use the proper materials when they are available to them. So think of the guides as just that- "guides" that give a foundation from which to choose whatever fills the needs and interests of the children in your care and to organize in whatever way that best fits your situation and requirements.

                               “Follow the Child.” Maria Montessori

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