Today my husband started a brand new job. In a new city, in a new state – and today we got the keys to our new apartment.
It’s been a BIG week in the O’Leary household!
We are always open to new opportunities (or ‘adventures’ as my children call them). So when my husband was offered his dream job in the tropical city where we first met – and where we still have strong connections – the decision should have been a no-brainer.
But it wasn’t.
In fact, as I found out later, initially my husband said no.
Because there is no Montessori school here.
In fact, the school our children were already attending is the closest Montessori school to Darwin (our new temporary home) – and that is thousands of kilometres away back in Queensland. As much as I love Darwin (and Montessori) that commute just didn’t seem workable somehow!
Then something remarkable happened.
It was one of those sliding door moments and I’m still amazed at how it has all come together.
We were at our local BMX track a few weeks ago with our sons and we got to chatting with another dad there. My husband had stepped away to help our youngest who had taken a tumble when somehow the topic turned to schooling – and in particular, home schooling – as that family home schools all six of their children and they absolutely love it. They quite like the Montessori philosophy as well so of course we talked about that for a bit, and that was it.
Home schooling is not something I have ever contemplated so while you’d think I’d have put two and two together at that point, I wasn’t at all thinking about travelling or an interstate move – or home schooling myself!
It was in the car on the way home that my husband told me about the contract he had just turned down (whenever the idea of moving has come up it has always been dependent on there being a Montessori school available) and instead of getting the nod of agreement he expected from me, I think he was a bit surprised when I said ‘hang on a minute’.
I told him about the home schooling family and his face lit up.
“Do you think you could home school the boys?” he asked me, obviously a bit shocked at the thought.
I nodded slowly.
‘I think I could.’
And then a split second later I knew I could.
Long-term followers of my blog know how passionate I am about the Montessori philosophy. My mind whirled. Learning more about it myself and playing an even more active role in my boys’ Montessori education – as well as all the of the wonderful Big Work and Going Out opportunities here in the Top End of Australia – it sounded amazing!
I pictured my boys and I setting up a Montessori home school and I pictured all of the real-life hands-on learning opportunities we could offer them – with them learning about everything from the wildlife up here, to the extremes of tropical weather, Indigenous culture, art, cooking, Australian history, you name it.
And it wasn’t forever. Just for the term of the work contract – and then we’d be back. We’d rent out our house and rent somewhere there – and when we got back to our home – and the boys’ school – they’d have all those amazing experiences under their belts. Experiences I knew they would never forget.
Yes! I was in.
I still felt a bit queasy (to say the least) about taking the boys out of their Montessori school, even if it was temporary. They were doing so well there. We still thought long and hard about it – all of the pros and cons – and decided that the benefits far outweighed the challenges.
My next thought was – could I actually do this? Am I a good enough teacher to keep them on track for the time that we would be away?
We discussed it with the boys and they were SO excited about this new experience. My eldest son said ‘Mum, you’ll be a great Montessori teacher’.
And that was the decision made!
We put it to the school and they were great. When we get back from this adventure, our boys will still be in elementary (primary school here in Australia). I’ve got the Australian Montessori curriculum, I’ve bought a raft of Montessori materials for our home school environment and I’ve been buying albums and studying how 6-9 materials are presented like there’s no tomorrow. There’s a LOT to learn and it’s very, very different to sending children off to school where I know they are getting the very best Montessori education.
To be honest, it’s a bit scary. And exciting, too.
So I’m going to give it my best shot.
Thankfully, of course, I already understand the philosophy and we already have a ‘Montessori’ home. Now, I’ll be kicking it up a level by home schooling Montessori as well.
So we’re planning our home school together, the boys and I. We’ve poured over Montessori material catalogues and decided together what we need. We’ve talked about what they’d like to do more of and the things they’d like to learn about (crocodiles, triple digit long division, jungles, how Aboriginal people live and how hot and cold the waterholes get here in the Northern Territory, for a start) and what they’d like to do less of (subtraction golden beads – this from my youngest).
My boys tell me we need to say grace before lunch and that they will take it in turns setting the table and lighting the candle before we eat because that is what they do at school.
Okay with me.
Two other things my six year old said he wants to know are ‘how did the world come?’ and ‘how did the first animals come?’.
He hasn’t heard any of the Great Stories yet, so that is going to be our starting place – and I just know he’s going to love it.
So, a new challenge ahead for me! And I’ll be filling you in on our journey as we go.
PS – Do you home school Montessori? Any tips gratefully received. Comment below – I’d love to hear from you! 🙂