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Monday, January 23, 2012

Why I'm taking a Montessori training course

I have thought since I found out about it, that the Montessori is a great way to individualize education. Paul and Chris did fabulously in it and I have wished that I could have given Mark and Eric more opportunities to learn this way. When Eric was a baby, I started a Montessori video course up in Washington but didn’t get very far because I became pregnant with Mark and didn’t have the time or energy to continue. I have wanted to get back to it for a long time, but life keeps throwing me curveballs like autism and motor tics and brain tumors and just plain trying to keep up with six kids. I have also felt that I wanted to homeschool but knew I couldn’t emotionally and physically handle it and Rob was against it, so I haven’t. Over the last couple of years we have watched the school struggle with John and try to teach Daniel. The longer Daniel is in school the farther behind he gets because his language skills are just not keeping up. He is doing the best he can with the way the school teaches and he is getting a lot of reading and language one on one teaching but school is a very auditory place and Daniel has an auditory processing disorder.

As Rob and I look into the future we don’t see the school district being able to meet Daniel’s needs. As for John, if he keeps hitting and kicking his teachers I don’t know how long he will be able to stay in school. When we went through the craziness of a couple of months ago with a passerby seeing teacher grabbing John as he tried to escape, I didn’t know if it was John or the teacher that was in trouble because John had hit another student. I was worried they might expel or suspend him. I knew if that happened it would be extremely difficult to get John going back to school and when he did he go back he would do even worse things in order to be suspended or expelled again. Although the lady over the YCAP programs said when I asked her about expelling or suspending she said, “Why would we do that?” I still wonder what will happen if he continues to hit and kick.

When all that is considered, Rob and I (believe it or not) feel that the school district will at some time in the near future not be a good place for John and Daniel. The Montessori Method is very hands-on and visual and individualized which is what Daniel needs to learn because he gets lost when there he is in a group. He just goes into his own little world and doesn’t learn a thing. That means at school he has to be taught everything twice; once with the group and, because he wasn’t listening or couldn’t process the information quickly enough, and again one on one with visuals. That is why I think eventually Daniel will be better off at home. Besides, I really don’t see Daniel being able the pass the 3rd grade STAAR (used to be TAKS and before that TAAS) test. He is required to pass in order to move on to the next grade. I am sure they will read the questions to him but even so, standardized tests are language intensive and that works against Daniel. I suppose it is possible that the test is easy enough that he could pass it. If it is, it is a disservice to the neuro-tyipical 3rd graders.

As for John, his main problem with school is that instead of finding his interests and working with that to get him to write and do other subjects (which are the way to interest autistic children in schoolwork) the school is required to teach whatever is required by state and federal law. John’s brain does not work that way. He can’t just shut off something that interests him to move on to something that doesn’t. We all don’t like doing that, but for John and other autistic children it is near impossible. I am hoping with him, that if he gets to choose his own projects so that he is studying his obsessions, that he will come to like to read and write, (aka giving him some control over what he studies and connect them to the things he isn’t interested in), that a lot of the fight will go out of him. I am hoping by approaching education this way, the Montessori way, he will learn to love to read and write and share his thoughts and ideas in creative ways.

So, to make a long explanation short (not) I am taking an online Montessori course just in case I need to homeschool John and/or Daniel. I will not be able to get MACTE (a Montessori certification place) certified because you have to do a practicum and have a bachelor’s degree for elementary teaching. But it will be good enough for homeschool. The course takes a couple of hours a day and I love it. I did stress out over the holidays when my 1st trimester assignments were due, but I am doing much better getting the work done this time. I picked a horrible time to start. I had our birthday season and all the holidays to deal with not to mention my normal every day something really weird happening regularly. I am expecting something any day now. Maybe John’s eye scratch will count for something for a while.

Speaking of the eye scratch, he is recovered by the regression from it has been awful. He has been having accidents at school and been really grouchy. He did really well this morning though so maybe he is pulling himself back together. I expected the backslide so it didn’t come as a shock. After having something like that happen anyone would have setbacks. It just takes John a bit longer to get over it. He actually did really well this weekend compared to how he had been doing at school last week.

As for everyone else they are all doing well. Daniel’s reading is improving but still slow. (How could it not be?) Mark was ordained a Priest yesterday by Robert and Eric got to be a part of it. The bishop likes it when we do that because then he teaches the rest of the Priests that they can ordain other Aaronic priesthood holders. He said, “I think it is a little known fact in the church that you can do this.”

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