Back in Summer last year I sat one day browsing Facebook, as we all do, reading Home-Ed groups looking for things to get involved with so L and I could make some friends in the community and attend meet ups regularly. For months and months I had been secretly longing for a Montessori group as I knew this was the philosophy we liked “Follow The Child”, but whether it’s just Nottingham, or the U.K as a whole (bar maybe the South), Montessori is neither much heard of nor practiced. I think we have possibly two Montessori establishments for full time and part-time education, at least for infant age range (unsure if it continues on through First and Second Planes of Development of not I’m afraid), both private, both miles apart and nowhere near us. This seems to be a bit of a problem, certainly in the western world, Montessori public funding and schooling is almost non-existent. A pity. I sat punching hopeful Montessori Nottingham combinations into Google for hours daily, looking for something to no avail and no hopes of starting something myself as I am neither trained not have I practiced long enough to feel confident that all my presentation methods are sufficiently up to scratch to educate the inquiring minds of both children and adults!
One day my prayers were answered and upon the Facebook Page for Home-Ed in Nottingham came the answer to my prayers! A lady sung forth about potentially starting a group for Flexischooling for Home-Ed families and it was Montessori! I couldn’t believe it and jumped in right away to express my interest. Many others did too! There were more out there, shy and in hiding, not speaking forth amid the masses of Unschoolers or Mainstream Educators or any other home-ed variant there of – There are Montessorians out there and I was making sure I was going to be a part of it!
By November last year the ball was rolling, a group was made and our first meet-up was had. It was all a bit exciting and daunting at first, but I was determined and L was excited to make some new friends so off we went up to The Fat Rabbit Cafe in Kirkby and we couldn’t have been more welcomed and definitely thoroughly enjoyed our first meet up. L went to work right away and started making friends with some of the kids.
The session begins with Circle Time, where the children gather around in a circle with their guide and sing some songs, discuss a topic or read a story. Ours usually begin with a story or song in German! L’s first introduction to a foreign language. I must admit, I studied French myself, my sister is the German student in the family, but over the years picked up enough to speak some, understand some and read some…my written German is heinous.
After Circle Time a Work Cycle begins where the children are free to work at their own leisure, choosing work tasks from the selection available to them to get on with. First a mat for each child is collected, carried to space on the floor and unrolled. Then a child chooses a work to do. L’s first time she was utter fascinated by the Ball Tower. This was her favourite work that session and she worked both solo and in pairs with two other girls at different times. It was lovely to see the kids working together and was really what sealed the deal.
Once the Work Cycle is complete, the children gather with the guide once more for another Circle Time for another story or song.
Throughout the session it is welcomed that parents present a lesson to their child or more if other children wish to participate, help the children and observe, most importantly, what your child is doing, look for their interests and how you can facilitate their needs and desires both at home and at the group and enhance their learning experience.
Just before Christmas, a change of venue was had and the organiser decided to run the group from her home and her home is a wonderfully prepared environment with a beautiful home-ed room where the majority of learning takes place, but with freedom to explore other tasks elsewhere as well.
Above is my daughter with the organiser’s eldest girl (who L’s really taken a shine too!) working with play doh whilst other children are working around the room. Not only does Marie run this great little group, now welcomes us into her home but she also accomodates my husband, who due to my disability, often drives me to the meets whilst he works from home, but stays during the session to do his own work to avoid too much driving and not enough working.
The group doesn’t start back until 20th January and we’re both chomping at the bit to see our new friends and get back to a routine!
If you think you might be interested in this group with you 2-5yr old(s) be you mum, dad, grandparent, carer or otherwise. Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to get you in touch with the organiser so you can get a place on the waiting list.