I started writing a reply to one of the comments I received on the Dwyer Post and figured that I would rather write a post about it. The question was how I was blending the Montessori Dwyer Approach to the All About Spelling program that we are doing and how we are accomplishing all this with a curious 18 month old toddler in the same house!
The answer is that we are not really blending the approaches. The days that we really get into our school room during my toddler's nap time is when I do presentations as there is no way I can do presentations with constant interruptions from M. I usually plan any new presentations over the weekend and present it early in the week either on Monday or Tuesday during M's nap. Then D is free to choose the work anytime we are in the school room. The beauty of the Dwyer approach is that other than the "Reading Folders" portion there is not much preparation in terms of materials, so it was/is a perfect fit for us.
I am NOT using the All About Spelling program for phonic instruction, but rather for spelling and handwriting work. As of now, D is breezing through Level 1 of the program as this is covers all CVC words, initial blends, ending blends and use of c vs k, most of which we have extensively covered in the Sound Games and Moveable Alphabet works. We are taking it very slow and focussing on the dictation recommended in the program with D actually writing out 4-5 words that I dictate to her. We do this twice or thrice a week for 10 mins at a time. At this time we are just focussing on D listening to the word, segmenting it in her head and trying to figure out the correct symbols and translating that to actual writing. As to why I am doing this program, this is for myself. The days that we never get to the school room, we still spend 10 mins on this and this gives ME the satisfaction that I am doing something with D instead of wasting the whole day doing nothing. This is not much work for me at all, as each lesson is scripted and I just follow that.
While we are at this, I would also like to describe the Right Start Math program and how we are doing that. This program is very hands on just like the Montessori math work. The one difference is how there is emphasis as seeing numbers under 10 as 5 + x. I don't follow the scripted lessons to the dot from the manual and instead try focus on one skill try to present it the montessori way. For example, addition and subtraction under 10 is taught by means of the whole-part circle combination initially using the abacus. So after making sure D understood the concept via a presentation, I left a couple of problems and the abacus on the math shelf free for her to choose. We are still continuing with the Montessori Golden beads, I am just trying to cover any gaps (concepts like the whole-part circle combinations) through the program.
It is a lot of work and there are tons of great ideas out there. I wish we could do much much more, but I am happy that I am providing a happy and nurturing and inspiring environment for the kids to grow and learn in. We are just doing what is working for us now. Sure there are days when we don't do anything at all and there are days when we speed faster than a missile and learn so much more. If I had only one child and the time to let her learn everything by herself then I would only do Montessori based home-schooling. Since the reality is much different, I have these additional programs that we do just to make sure we are covering everything and lets face it, it is a lot less preparation on my part. I still try and follow the Montessori principles by following what D is interested in and letting her take the lead and tweak anything and everything into a Montessori learning experience!