Interview and Home Tour with Courtney of @prepared_beginnings_montessori
Friends, today's interview is a good one with so many gems of information, tips and and resources. I know many of you are curious about homeschooling and I'm so happy that Courtney of Prepared Beginnings Montessori agreed to be interviewed. I especially appreciate the advice she gives about knowing yourself and not getting wrapped up in the comparison game that is so easy to be a part of. Please enjoy this read!
Tell me about yourself...
Hi, my name is Courtney and I live in Missouri with my husband and 3 children. We are a homeschool family but in the past I had a small Montessori program in my home for preschool aged students.
How did you decide you were going to homeschool? What does your program look like?
I was homeschooled from Kindergarten-7th grade and I NEVER thought I would homeschool my children, but fast forward and here we are. I worked in a school before I had children, and my experience was that, teachers earnestly wanted to teach, but they were burdened by so many other tasks that teaching more of their secondary job. I just wanted my children to go to school to learn and I wasn't sure what that would look like where we live.
Right now with a toddler in tow, our school days are a little hectic. We typically school in the mornings, 4 days a week and are done before lunch each day. This year we joined a Physical Education class, so we've had to change our school schedule a bit, but that's the beauty of homeschool, the flexibility.
My preschool aged daughter is able to choose her work from the shelf that she wants to use but she spends most of her mornings looking at books. My oldest son is in 1st grade, so I'm learning alongside him as he's entered the second place of development. The toddler is usually tearing pages out of books or throwing balls at someone, while they're trying to do work with small parts, he seems to know the best way to create a scene, but we love him to pieces.
What advice do you have for families that want to homeschool, but don't know where to start?
Learn about yourself first. Are you an extremely structured person, or more laid back? Do you enjoy being outdoors? Do you need community or are you more introverted? If you don't know who you are you can easily get sucked into the "pretty" side of homeschooling. There are some amazing social media accounts that feature inspiring homeschool families, but if you get caught up in their style without knowing your own, you can easily become discouraged or overwhelmed when your days don't mirror those sparkling social media accounts. Next, find out the homeschool laws for where you live, in my state the laws are almost nonexistent for homeschool families, and that's really nice, but it's not the case everywhere. Lastly, don't marry yourself to a curriculum or style, if something isn't working, there are no rules that you can't change your mind. Make a different selection and move forward.
What was the hardest thing for you when you started homeschooling?
The hardest thing for me at the beginning of homeschooling, was wondering if I was doing enough. I was constantly worried that my child wasn't going to know as much as his counterparts in traditional school. Also so much of my self-esteem was tied to his academic performance, I was putting unnecessary pressure on myself to do "everything" right.
Where do you get inspiration? What are your favourite Montessori blogs, accounts and books?
This such a great question. I get inspiration from everywhere. I was homeschooled from Kindergarten through 7th grade, so I am constantly being inspired by my childhood memories of our homeschool. On Instagram I love following people of color who are changing the face of the homeschool world, especially when it comes to Montessori and Nature.
Amber O'Neal Johnston at Heritage Mom
Maria Chavez on Instagram @mariaschavez
Tiffany Thenor on Instagram @raising.wonders
Samantha on Instagram @curlygirlschoolhouse
Nicole on Instagram @polishedplayhouse
Ana Kay on Instagram @pickneys_at_play
The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the age of distraction by Meghan Cox Gurdon
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies
Anatomy Printout and Study
What's your favourite Montessori material or activity and why?
Wow so many materials to choose from, but I would have to say the Moveable alphabet paired with the Miniature objects. I think because I loved the thought of playing with a dollhouse as a child, but I never had one. Now as an adult I have an excuse to have all these miniature items and I secretly enjoy using them every time I do a lesson. But more seriously, my children are drawn to these items like a magnet, the idea that a child can write before they read is so powerful and the moveable alphabet puts so much power into those little hands. It's amazing to see what they write once they have the right tools.
How are you practicing self-care?
Goodness, how do I practice self-care? Ummm, right now I get to grocery shop without my children and that it one of the best gifts I've been given. I really like grocery shopping but not with my children and I buy myself a treat while I'm out and sit in the parking lot, while I listen to a podcast.
Thank you so much, Courtney!
I have learned a ton from this interview. I am following all of the Instagram accounts listed above and I recommend that you do too. I've also added the books to my reading list. Please join Courtney on her homeschooling journey by following her on Instagram @prepared_beginnings_montessori, her Website and Youtube Channel