Last week, while I was working (at home), my husband approached me and said Kara was crying in a corner, refusing to join her "online class".
Kara was saying: "I don't want to sit in front of a screen again! It's boring, and no one is paying attention. I want a classroom with a classmate and a guide!"
These were the words of our 4 year old who was supposed to do whole day classes this coming school year. All of us are having a hard time adjusting to this "new normal", what more our children.
She even stomped her feet as she got her "movable alphabet" and spelled:
"Kara wants homskul" (she spelled it phonetically)
There goes our plan for Distance Learning in the time of COVID19. We tried -- she tried for 2 months and she really didn't like it. And so, we came to a decision to do homeschooling this coming school year.
I needed to find a local homeschool provider as well with a flexible curriculum that we can integrate Montessori Approach into so I started researching and asking parents from various online communities.
I shared our decision with Kara and asked her: "How do you feel about mama and papa as your teachers and we'll convert your playroom to a mini classroom?"
To say that she was ecstatic was understatement -- she was literally "bouncing off the walls" as she said: "And Andy can be my classmate! Please let me help fix the classroom mom!"
This is going to be a BIG challenge because my husband and I are both working full time. But, we will try our best to make this work. This isn't something we plan to do long term, just until a vaccine is made and provided. I'm pretty sure it will be tough!
Anyway, here's what I've learned so far:
I found out that you only need to register under a homeschool provider once your child is 5 years old by the time the school year starts, and the level will be "Kinder". Kara is technically done with "Kinder" and would be in lower elementary if she continues with her current school. Gina Roldan of Living Learning advised not to enroll until a child is 5 and in Kara's case, she can just take an assessment once she goes back to school for SY 2021-2022 to qualify for Elementary. If there is no vaccine by then, we will continue with registering under a homeschool provider.
I also found out that in the Philippines, there is no Homeschool Provider specifically following the Montessori Approach.
Hope is not loss because, there are those which have an OPEN CURRICULUM.
As checked, there are plenty of Homeschool Providers with an open curriculum but due to personal preferences (in relation to our lifestyle - both full time working parents + my kid's learning pace & style), I only listed my top 2 choices here.
Levels Accepted? Preschool to Highschool
Enrollment Period? March, June, September
How to reach them?
Levels Accepted? Kinder to 10th Grade
Enrollment Period? March to Early July
How to reach them?
Website : www.livinglearninghomeschool.com/
LLH Online Orientation: https://bit.ly/LLHOrientation
I'm sure you will also ask yourself these questions:
What will be the basis for applying Montessori?
Do I need to get trained or purchase available curriculum from Legitimate institutions?
Unless you intend to become a trained and certified Montessori Teacher and do this LONG TERM, I don't suggest heavily investing in authentic curriculum and training currently available (it's $2000 to $10,000 per level depending on the institute). Plus, nowadays, there are already plenty of online Montessori short courses for parents which you can just attend.
Authentic Montessori materials are also a huge investment. However, there are plenty of alternative activities or materials that can help your child isolate & develop the skills intended per material. The good news is that majority of these can be found at home or can be DIY'ed (check my Instagram for ideas).
We do have the NAMC Homeschooling Curriculum for Primary Level (since the ages 2.5-6 years old is the most crucial years in Montessori after all). We will be able to use this for 1 more school year for Kara. Then by age 5, she'll be in Elementary and we will just use an open curriculum from our chosen Homeschool Provider while applying Montessori principles. This is in case the situation does not improve (i.e. still no tried and tested vaccine for it to be safe to go back to school).
You can also join Momtessori PH Facebook Group. After all, I created this community in hopes of helping parents understand what Montessori really is, and parents and educators to discuss how we can apply the philosophy in our daily lives and how it can benefit children. There are now over 10,000+ members. Yay!
By the way, you may also be wondering why I prefer registering under a Homeschool Provider.
Here are my top 2 reasons. Whether you're SAHP (stay-at-home parent) a full time WAHP (work-at-home parent), or working in the office, I really think you should go for a homeschool provider. We shouldn't stretch ourselves too thin. The public heath crisis we are all dealing with is already stressful enough.
DO WHAT YOU CAN DO BEST, AND JUST DELEGATE THE REST (especially, the administrative tasks).
I hope you find this post helpful. If in case you will reach out to the homeschool providers, do mention you are part of the Momtessori PH Community. We need to create more awareness to make this approach MAINSTREAM in the Philippines.
We've been doing a trial run for homeschooling and I can see a huge difference in Kara's mood - she is very eager to learn again.
As Dr. Montessori said:
"One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.” (Maria, Montessori, What You Should Know About Your Child)