What’s New? A [Home]School!

My favorite backyard yogi.

My favorite backyard yogi.

I’ve been pretty lousy about the update posts as of late and, while I know you all don’t mind, I’m always bummed when I fall behind on documenting the latest with the littles. I think I’m going to stop adding the What’s New linky. Link-ups can be wonderful if you put in the time and energy required to promote them, but it’s not enough of a priority for me, so I may as well drop the paid subscription to linky tools. Of course I’ll still read the updates on your wonderful families.

I’ve been dying to tell you all about my top priority (next to the family, of course) right now, and the reason behind my belated updates, and I can finally spill the beans. You may remember that I got together with some other families in my town last year and started a Community Montessori Program. It was wonderful in so many ways, but it was not exactly what the families in our group needed. Since we chose to operate in a way that prevented us from falling under licensing laws, the parents in our group were unable to simply drop their children off at class and go do their thing, and many of them were finding this to be a challenge, especially with

Elliot gleefully disassembling our Practical Life exercises.

Elliot gleefully disassembling our Practical Life exercises.

their preschooler’s younger siblings in tow. Toward the end of last year, we all discussed our options and it was decided that I would seek licensure so that we could become a full drop-off program.

It was (much) harder than I expected to jump through all of the oddly shaped and sometimes difficult-to-find hoops required, and it took quite awhile, too, but we made it! Our home classroom is now fully licensed and my business entity is officially registered with all appropriate parties. I am so grateful for the wonderful families who have taken this adventure with me, and who were totally cool about starting school a full month later than planned when licensing took longer than I ever imagined.  This has been our first full week of class, and it was wonderful. I cannot wait to see what this new school year brings! I love how enthusiastically involved Annabelle has been, too. When I told her we could finally go to pick up our license, she said, “I’m going to carry it!” — and she did, telling me, “I’m so glad you got your license, mom!” Such a sweet, supportive kid.

Speaking of Annabelle, parenting was a little tough with her as we started the transition to something like our school schedule over the past few weeks, but we made it through together, and she seems fairly settled in now. The biggest challenge for a bit was with big feelings being taken out on Elliot, but just when I was nearing the end of my rope with that particular issue, serendipity brought me the book Peace, BabyIts rhymes encouraged the playful attitude I needed to deal with things gently, and I was able to borrow a little language from its pages, too.

The husband insisted I take a picture of Annabelle in this self-chosen get-up. His words: "She's an accidental hipster."

The husband insisted I take a picture of Annabelle in this self-chosen get-up. His words: “She’s an accidental hipster.”

Annabelle and I agreed that when she was upset and feeling like she might need help to choose peaceful behavior with her brother, she would call for help. We even developed a code word: “blueberry,” which she could use when she needed help right away. As soon as she said blueberry, or I noticed she was on the verge and said it myself, I would run right to her side saying, “When you want to scream and shout, hugs will help you work it out!” Hugging followed, of course, and soon all sibling tensions would dissolve, if only temporarily. Silly, yes, but it seemed to make a big difference for both of us and for that I am grateful.

School seems to have been a big help to Annabelle in making peace with what seemed to me like a bit of three-and-a-half-year-old disequilibrium. The routine appears to be serving her well – she has always thrived on consistency – and she’s thrilled to see her friends every day. Last year, school seemed to breed a bit of jealousy as Annabelle got used to seeing me give attention to other children for the first time. This year, however, I’m finding her to be one of the best sources of support in the classroom I’ve ever had. She welcomes everyone who comes in with enthusiasm, shares her things openly with the children who join us (most of the time), and loves to show others around the space. She frequently tells strangers that she goes to Montessori school (and that she three-and-a-half, and named Annabelle), too, serving as the best advertising I didn’t even ask for.

Elliot’s favorite pastimes of late are knocking over chairs and placing objects inside of containers. He’s a dancing machine, too, and a bit of a chatterbox, even if we can only understand a few of the words he uses. He thinks head butting people, or poking them and then running away is hilarious. He loves to sweep with the child-sized broom, and can often be found in the kitchen spinning around in circles as he does so. He is in a pretty serious phase of stranger anxiety, and screams when anyone he’s not

He also loves carrying pillows around and stopping at random to rest on them.

He also loves carrying pillows around and stopping at random to rest on them.

familiar with so much as looks at him, but he warms up fairly quickly. I adore waking up with him, because he’ll go from appearing to be completely serene and mostly asleep, to babbling loudly and cheerfully, and crawling as fast as he can all over the bed.

It is so funny to have him in the classroom. He has his own space that is separate from the primary materials, but with as much time as we’ve been spending in the room lately, I’ve tried not to confine him to such a small area all of the time. When he’s free to roam, he either sweeps with the carpet sweeper, bangs on the bathroom door asking to be let in so he can splash in the sink, or runs to the pink tower stand and cracks up. He’ll stop there and look at it for awhile, then either pull the top two cubes off and put them in his mouth, or blow on the top so that the tiniest cube falls off. His next step, if I don’t get there to intervene right away, is to knock the entire thing over. He runs in place as he does it, and makes the most enthusiastic noises.

So now you know why I have practically disappeared from blog-land. Starting a business has been no small task, but I am so incredibly happy with the way things are going. I can’t express enough how amazing it feels to be able to do meaningful work that extends outside the confines of our home, while still having the flexibility to be here with both children when they need care. I never would have seen myself doing this, but it could hardly be more perfect. I don’t think I’ll actually end up adding any money to our family funds this way, but I now have funds I can use to buy all the high quality materials my Montessori heart desires, without running the decision by anyone else, and that is payment enough in itself ;p

A classroom tour is coming soon, and I have the last giveaway in my Back to [Home]School Giveaway Series coming up tomorrow. For now, I’d love to know what’s happening in your world!

7 thoughts on “What’s New? A [Home]School!

  1. Sandra

    Oh my! Sounds like you’ve been busy, in a very good way! Elliot sounds so much like my youngest, you cracked me up with him carrying around a pillow. My little Sprout just lays down anywhere random and does this naughty smile he’s getting famous for.
    Congratulations on your Mobtessori classroom too!

    Reply
    1. melissa Post author

      Thank you, Sandra! It has definitely been a good busy! Plopping down randomly around the house cracks me up – I’m glad you get to enjoy similar antics in your house. It’s impossible to be mad about anything ever when you see that naughty smile, isn’t it?

      Reply
  2. Laura

    My deepest admiration!! Congratulations!
    I am curious, how do you separate Elliot’s own materials from the rest of the materials and what do you do when he uses those materials. I am in a similar situation with Amadís wanting to use everything and I need ideas. I end up having to play seek and find to get the cylinder blocks he drops here and there.

    Reply
    1. melissa Post author

      Thanks, Laura! Elliot has his own shelf and table in an area that is within, but partitioned off from the rest of the classroom, so when he’s in his work space he’s not able to access the rest of the materials. When he needs a break from that area, I hold him if I can pay enough attention to make sure he doesn’t disassemble the classroom, I shadow him until he chooses something appropriate to do (loves spooning work, dishwashing, sweeping) and stick nearby once he’s set up at a rug or table so I can help him change gears when he loses interest. If I can’t keep my eye on him because it’s too busy, I hold him or put him in the ergo. When he reaches for something that isn’t age appropriate, I sometimes let him touch and look at it for a short time, but often I end up telling him that it’s work for the school kids and we’ll do it when he’s a little older. I should probably pick one response and stick with it, but I hate to take things from him constantly – some things I really don’t mind him touching, until he starts using parts of work as a hammer ;p

      I’m planning to write a post on how we’ve made this all work through the stages with him – hopefully I get to it soon! :)

      Reply
  3. Courtney

    Hooray! Huzzah! Mazel tov! I agree with Annabelle – I am so excited for you about your licensure! :) Congratulations on your first week being a success. And when in the world did your little baby boy become a little boy, no “baby” at all? I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve caught up on your blog…

    Reply

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