Category Archives: Homeschooling

Another Chapter

20160908_121248It has taken me some time to catch my breath and process, but things have changed quite a bit around here. I thought it was time that I catch the ol’ blog up to provide some context for the writing I’d like to do in the near future. So, big news here: Our school is closed. The closest thing I can compare that decision to is a really awful break-up. I knew it was the right thing, but it was still painful on so many levels and it has taken me quite awhile to work through the complex feelings I had surrounding the whole thing and feel mostly right again.

Professionally and personally, starting the program was one of my proudest and most rewarding accomplishments and I intended to continue it for at least the next four years, until my littlest aged out at six years old. Over the past three and a half years, I learned first-hand about the joys and challenges of teaching one’s own children and, until this last one, the joys outweighed the challenges and I could honestly say that my ability to meet my family’s needs was enhanced by my role within our little school. This past year, however, the challenges of parenting children with special needs collided with the challenges of running a business and serving as guide, in a way that I did not feel could continue to benefit everyone. I had to let go, either of my plans for my children’s education or my plans for the school. Since my primary goal in starting the school was to give my children an affordable Montessori environment in which to thrive, it did not make sense to continue without them.

So we’ve found ourselves starting a new chapter yet again. Our school space has become a gross motor play area for all three kids and we are unschooling for now, until it no longer works for all of us. Montessori materials come out when they fit in with something one of the children is discovering or experimenting with, and the philosophy will always drive so much of what I do and how I am with my children. With a toddler, plus a four year old and first grader who exist on alternating extremes of the bell curve depending on the skills a situation calls for, however, keeping the full range of materials available isn’t the right choice for us, but we will always be a Montessori family, even if it’s not expressed in an obvious way. Unschooling is perfect¬†for us at the moment, and I’m seeing so much joyful learning take place.

I am itching for a professional outlet, but taking a little breather as I work out how to find that while also being there for my family in the way I feel compelled to be at the moment. Mostly I’m counting the days until the next American Montessori Society Conference, but I toy with the idea of putting myself out there as a substitute or volunteering at one of a couple of programs whose mission resonates deeply with me, among other things. Most likely I’ll start taking some classes in the spring so that when I really dive back into the work, I’ll be that much more prepared for it.

So that’s us. The only other tidbit I’ll mention for those who may have read along in the past is that I have removed a lot of older content from the blog and will share in a bit less detail about the children moving forward. As they grow, I grow increasingly less comfortable with sharing specifics about them and their lives. I want to honor their privacy, even if they’re not at the point of caring about whether I do.

I’d love to know what’s happening in your life, too!

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. Continue reading

Back to [Home]School Giveaway: $50 Gift Certificate to Montessori Services

Shop Montessori ServicesRegular readers already know how much I love Montessori Services and why. I’ve been purchasing materials from them since long before I started this blog, and will continue to for as long as I work with children. I’m always happy to support them, not only because they have so many items that are useful for me as a teacher and a parent, but also because they’re a mom-owned company based right here in the US.

Montessori Services specializes in tools for the Practical Life area of the Montessori primary classroom, with many things that are useful for the home (and for other ages) as well. While Practical Life is their specialty, they also offer ready made activities and individual components for Sensorial, Math, Language,¬†Science, and Art activities. I don’t go anywhere else for things like trays, rugs, or mats. They truly are an incredible resource for preparing the child’s environment.

Assembling a Flashlight: Montessori Services Review at Vibrant WanderingsRecently, Montessori Services was kind enough to send along an activity I’ve had on my wishlist for quite some time: Assembling a Flashlight. I’ve had it on our Practical Life shelf for the past couple of weeks and Annabelle absolutely loves it. I can’t wait until her classmates start so they can enjoy it, too. The activity comes with a medium-sized flashlight, which is a perfect size for a preschooler’s hands, and two AA batteries. Of course flashlights of various sizes can be bought at many stores, but what’s so special about this activity is the gorgeous, wooden tray with compartments that are perfectly sized for the individual parts of the flashlight, including the batteries, and are oriented from left to right. The tray’s tapered edges make it easy for the child to pick up, carry, and work with. Continue reading

Montessori Kitchen at Vibrant Wanderings

Our Community Montessori Classroom, Part 2

I’ve been so eager to show you the rest of our home-based classroom, but with a toddling, almost-ten-months-old in the house, I’m not able to leave it set up outside of class time. I’m usually putting Elliot in the sling and getting trays on shelves just before the first preschoolers arrive, and by the time I’ve finished, I’m greeting them and getting on with the day – no time for photos! By the end of class, my two are very ready for lunch, and so photos have not been taken. Fortunately, however, I had a productive late night preparing for our school week, and also learned a thing or two about my camera. The shelves were set up early (or late, rather), and I managed to take pictures that aren’t dark and awful, even with no natural light. They are a bit too bright, but I’m pretty proud of myself all the same ;) Continue reading

Our Community Homeschool Classroom

What a busy semester it has been! I had tons of fun setting up our community classroom in January, and thanks to a bit of water damage, I got to set it up all over again at our house a couple of weeks ago. There’s something extra special about being at home that I never really anticipated. I tend to be an introvert and very big on having my own space, and the husband and Annabelle are the same, so I never even dreamed of having class here, but it’s actually working wonderfully. We still have our afternoons for recovery through quiet and alone time, so the balance is not too hard to maintain.

Anyway, I wanted to show you all what the classroom in our home looks like. The area that houses most of the shelves, and that we use for work at rugs, group time, and the like, is what was our dining room. Fortunately springtime is our favorite time for picnic table dining, so we were happy to move our dining table into the garage temporarily. I’ll share about the kitchen area of the classroom, where most of the practical life and art work is kept, in another post.

Montessori Classroom from Vibrant Wanderings Continue reading