Approachable Montessori Homeschooling: How One Family Made the Switch Alongside Full-time Work
Using Guidepost’s Parent-as-Educator program, one mother shares her experience leaping into first-time homeschool
“I don’t understand why I can’t learn more when I want to learn more,” said Molly.
Diana, Molly’s mother, was caught off guard when her 11-year-old daughter approached her with this frustration. They had recently relocated from California to Utah. Both Diana and her husband work full-time, so they enrolled Molly in a brick-and-mortar private school. The school offered a project-based curriculum, but it quickly became clear that it wasn’t a good academic fit.
“Molly would ask if she could write a book or do a presentation, but her teachers would tell her there was no time,” Diana said. “Before we moved, Molly had been in Montessori education since she was two-and-a-half. In Montessori, the answer to wanting to learn more is always ‘yes’.”
In the fall of 2020, Molly was diagnosed with dyscalculia, a learning difference that affects the way math is processed. The diagnosis was the catalyst for Diana to find an authentic Montessori school. She wanted Molly back in an environment where individualized learning wouldn't be restricted, and where she’d be given a hands-on approach to math instead of rote memorization.
There wasn’t a brick-and-mortar Montessori school within their vicinity to switch to, so they began looking at home-based options. Molly expressed to her mom that she would prefer learning at home over a classroom if it meant she could direct her own learning. Diana had already been eyeing Guidepost Montessori’s at-home programs after hearing about them through word-of-mouth, and decided that Parent-as-Educator aligned with their preferences more than Virtual School. While both of these Guidepost programs cultivate Montessori learning spaces in the home, Parent-as-Educator is ideal for families who want to leverage the curriculum within their own family routine. Virtual School assigns students directly to a Montessori guide and virtual classroom.
As a screen-conscious family, paired with Molly’s desire to have more agency, Parent-as-Educator felt like the right fit. Diana pulled Molly out of private school, and within weeks, set-up their new Montessori elementary homeschool with Guidepost.
Guidepost's Parent-As-Educator Program
With a one-time $500 enrollment fee, and $200 per month thereafter to maintain the Parent-as-Educator subscription, Diana gained access to:
- A digital curriculum developed by Montessori educators and trainers, known as Guidepost Elementary Album. Molly uses this platform––powered by Altitude Learning–– for self-directed learning, and Diana goes in to guide and assess.
- Ongoing delivery of traditional Montessori learning materials for the home and guidance for how to set-up.
- Enrollment in Montessori Foundations for Elementary Training, which Diana completed in one week by committing four hours per day.
- Parent community and digital resources to help in planning
- One-on-one mentorship that Diana schedules as needed with a Montessori parent concierge.
A Practical Homeschool for Busy Parents
When asked how she juggles homeschooling with telework, Diana challenged the notion that this program is narrowly for full-time homeschoolers.
“I can’t even call it homeschooling, if by homeschooling you’re assuming it relies on me as the teacher,” she said. “The Guidepost Album is in charge, and that’s what I love. It drives everything.”
Diana admitted that she had initial concerns about how to balance everything, but she felt comfortable taking the leap considering the level of parent support that is offered.
“It felt like a total bargain considering the training I was getting, the ongoing materials, and the fact that I have someone to hold my hand through it all. Lisa Kathleen is my parent concierge, and I can’t imagine doing this without her. I knew in order to do this that I would need somebody to work with.”
When Molly logs on to The Album, she can choose which lessons, referred to as “cards,” she wants to work on that day. Diana can access the lessons as well and place them in the appropriate sequencing for her daughter.
On Sundays, Diana dedicates time to populating Molly's dashboard with a customized mix of lesson cards. In addition, Molly creates her own lesson cards as she comes up with her own ideas of what she wants to study. When in doubt, Diana meets with her Guidepost parent concierge for feedback.
This fusion of technology and mentorship re-defines what homeschooling looks like. While Diana is engaged in an active support role––and blends her workday from home alongside her daughter––she doesn’t have to deliver the lessons herself, or source and buy learning materials on her own. The program actively manages these moving pieces in partnership with educators who ensure a stream of rich content that is accessible for families to facilitate, and for children to self-discover.
“Molly’s favorite area of study right now is biology. She recently planted a bean, observed how it grew and learned how to replant––nothing compares to hands-on learning,” Diana said.
This hands-on approach is crucial to support her in math. With dyscalculia, Molly cannot just memorize a math table; she needs a concrete foundation, which is what Montessori provides with its sequence of physical math materials. In this path, Molly is able to create a memory with her hands using the materials, better allowing her to recall the concept when she needs to solve on paper.
With a move back to California on the horizon, Diana plans to re-enroll her daughter in a Montessori brick-and-mortar classroom. Despite this, she also plans to stay enrolled in Parent-as-Educator, having observed how enriching it has been in supporting Molly’s interests at home.
It’s an investment that she believes holds long-term value, and one that she advocates for, despite onlookers having doubted their Montessori home as “good in theory, but too hard to implement.” She finds this to be a false narrative, perhaps perpetuated by an over-emphasis in our culture on higher education rather than early education. For her, it’s these early years that will matter most, when executive functioning skills can either be hindered or nurtured.
“By elementary, children are engaged in projects that take weeks or months to complete and often involve collaborators. They must track their own work in elementary and set goals—all critical to the development of executive functioning,” wrote Kelli Harran, Director of Elementary Program Support at Higher Ground Education. “Executive functioning skills allow people to concentrate, juggle and prioritize tasks, stay organized, regulate impulses, be flexible, plan ahead, and turn goals into achievements. There is a tremendous body of research on its importance in childhood and its link to success in adulthood. Montessori builds these skills intentionally, and the difference shows.”
It’s this long-view that motivates Diana to intentionally bridge the Montessori Method from classroom to home––something she has worked to cultivate since Molly was just six months old.
“Montessori has never been just about education. It is a complete way of life. It’s about answering to the long-view, ‘what kind of child are you trying to launch into the world’?"
PAE offers an approachable, customizable Montessori homeschool framework, regardless of the parent or child’s prior experience in a Montessori setting. To explore the Early Years version of PAE for children under the age of 6, go here.
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
Jenna is a trained journalist and writer whose parenting journey transformed after implementing Montessori at home with her three children. She is a passionate advocate for bridging Montessori to the mainstream as a means to build community, empower parent-child relationships, and honor learning as the lifelong journey that it is.
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