This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Judy, the author behind the blog Follow the Child With Wonder and Instagram account @angeltots147 We have been part of some Montessori collaborations together, so I know she is the right person to give some advice about homeschooling! I am so happy she agreed to chat with me, even though I might be jealous of the extra sleep she is getting. Enjoy!
Tell me about yourself...
Hi! I am Judy. My family and I live in Massachusetts. We are homeschoolers and have
been for the past 3 years. I have 2 little ones, ages 3 and 5. We use the Montessori
philosophy both for homeschool and as a way of life. I also work as a voice and piano
teacher for my own music studio, and manage a local symphonic orchestra.
Please tell me about your homeschooling journey.
I fell in love with Montessori when I was teaching a little music class for a local Montessori school ages ago. The directress and guide were treating the little children with so much respect that was very new to me. The children were all calm and well- mannered as well. The classroom set up is clean and beautiful, with child-sized everything. The children looked happy and content. I have decided then that I would love for my children to be in this kind of environment. There isn’t a public Montessori school in our area, and any private school is costly. We decided to homeschool using Montessori, and by doing that, we are also getting the flexibility of homeschooling as a perk. I have purchased the albums for primary years which is for ages 3-6. I also took a homeschooling course to help me get a deeper understanding of how to use the albums to suit our family.
What was the hardest thing for you when you started homeschooling?
I was all over the place when I started. I tried to follow what other people were doing. I had a hard time finding my way.
Everyone I have asked for advise has told me, “This is how we do it, but every family is different, so you have to find the way that works for you.” I had wished there is just ONE WAY, so I can simply follow it, and be done. Finding our way was very much of a trial and error. For someone who tends to be a perfectionist, this part was the hardest. I just wanted it to be “right” the very first time, and it was getting frustrating until it finally clicked.
What advice do you have for families that want to homeschool, but don't know where to start?
For those who are suddenly homeschoolers due to the current unfortunate
circumstance, I would advise that families should begin by focusing more on
relationships between adults and child. It is a rare opportunity that your child is now by
your side, so cherish every moment with him. For anybody to be able to extend love to
another, the adult needs to be prepared. In Montessori, “the prepared adult” is a big part
of a child’s learning. Try to focus on self-care, and make sure your own needs are met.
Next, think about what you’d like your homeschool mission to be. List the top 3
characteristics you’d like your child to have. Kindness, joy, curiosity? For our
homeschool, I value that the girls not lose their joy in learning. I would like for them to
always be curious about the world. I will serve as their guide (not a teacher) and see
where this curiosity leads us. Wherever it leads us, I can be sure that the children will be
learning something that interests them – this way, they will always be putting everything
they have into it until they are internally satisfied.
Where do you get inspiration? What are your favourite Montessori blogs, accounts and books?
When my children were very young, I always looked to Nicole from The Kavanagh Report. Now that my children are older, I often check out Angela over at Angela Momtessori Life since my children’s ages are very close to hers. I really like Bree at Kindling Kids Montessori. She is very relatable and down-to-earth. For my future references, and glimpses of what elementary years look like, I follow E over at Cosmic Montessori. For books, one book I would recommend is How to Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin. It has big colorful pages and is an easy read. What's your favourite Montessori material or activity and why?
I like the spindle box a lot. My children love playing with it. It emphasizes the value of zero. They get such a kick from me asking for zero kisses that they always burst out laughing, especially when I say it with a pretend sternness that they give me zero kisses “now!”.
How are you practicing self-care during the pandemic?
Since my husband has been working from home, he has been waking up when the children wake up, and he lets me sleep in. Sleeping-in in the morning is definitely a life- saver for me because I cannot function in the early mornings. I am also taking it slower and going with the flow. I noticed that we have started baking a lot too. Doing practical life seems to be grounding for everyone in the family, helping with the big emotions and therefore, keeping my sanity in check, haha.