Montessori Mommy Guilt...

I have to admit that I have bits of daily guilt over the direction our preschool time seems to have taken.

When Robbie was a baby and even a small toddler, I had visions of homemade Montessori-esque early experiences for him. I knew we would never be able to afford the beautiful materials in the Montessori catalogs (I still receive these), but I was reasonably certain that I could give him many of the same experiences/skills in a DIY fashion.

My plan seemed to sort of work... for a while. At roughly 2.5 years old, he started to refuse my carefully crafted trays. He was bored with pouring, transferring, table setting, etc. I know that we just scratched the surface, but our extremely tight budget and severe lack of space (<700 sq ft home) really limit the more involved and specialized Montessori items.

Of course, we still do mostly hands-on and sensory-rich activities. I don't always capture or blog about those because I never want to stop or pause our time together to grab the camera (we don't schedule these things, I place items out and he chooses/combines them at will). I guess I need to cover these times at least as much as the more formal learning on this blog, huh?

I must admit, these feelings are purely my own. RockerDad is very happy with all that we explore and Robbie's progress and happiness. Robbie looks forward to our games, projects, activities, play time, read-alouds, and his "school work" (he only considers pencil/crayon/marker to pre-printed page as school work). He's been upset that we took a week off from his "reading lessons".

So, I've been telling myself that it's okay to let go of the guilt. Did things turn out how I'd hoped? Well, yes and no. No, the day-to-day educational activities are on the opposite end of the spectrum from my original vision... buy my son is confident, happy, eager, full of wonder and is constantly learning.

I guess that I occasionally peruse the blogs of other moms and have huge feelings of inadequacy. I see the things that many of you do and I begin to feel that I'm failing my son in one way or another.

Have any of you had similar discrepancies between what you envisioned and where your child led you? Do you ever feel inadequate or doubt yourself? Surely I'm not the only one... or am I?

I'd love to hear from you.


  1. You have posted exactly how I have been feeling too. Connor is just over 2 1/2 and seems to have lost some of the interest he has had in doing my prepared home-made Montessori activities. And, due to lack of space at our home (we have 7 people living in a 3 bedroom home), I can't provide him with the beautiful and traditional Montessori materials. This doesn't mean he isn't thriving though. He seems to be learning so quickly that I feel as though I can't keep up with him, especially since I also have his little sister to look after (she's 1). This adds another dimension to my guilt. I feel as though I am not spending enough time with either of them. Anyway, my inner voice keeps reminding me that I have many years to do things with them, and I can't possibly do all the things which look so good - especially on other moms blogs. I have to try and be selective and do the best I can with the limitations in my life. Does it make me feel better? No always, but I continue trying.

  2. I feel you on this post. We also have little money to spare on lots of extra learning tools. I work outside the home, so I lack time to even hunt for things at garage sales.
    However I will keep trying. I am not formerly trained in education (in fact, far from) and am still learning about different techniques). I think it matters more that I engage my son and that I care.
    Hugs, I know this can be so hard.

  3. Sounds to me like he has grown out of some of the Montessori activities, and there should be no guilt in allowing him to move on from things he has mastered! :) However, there are plenty of Montessori activities he could do using the moveable alphabet or other phonics basic materials since he is learning to read. I found that the Montessori activities really captured my interest in the beginning, but when I read more of her philosophy I wasn't as drawn to it. I would leave the guilt--you are doing a great job! :)

  4. Yes! I absolutely have feelings like this, and sort of addressed it in a recent blog post. I feel pressured to do more of everything, like what I'm doing is not enough. We're not doing much Montessori. We're certainly not doing as many "learning to read" worksheets, lapbooks, printables as I'd like. They look like fun to me. But at the same time, I know my son's personality and what types of activities work best for him. Instead of doing MORE stuff, I'm doing LESS...a more simplified schedule, focusing on what he really enjoys and needs the most (time outside, reading, playing with blocks, etc). I want those things, but there are some other things I want for him (ie, learning to read, working on numbers) that we're not focusing on. I feel like doing this has actually helped his development...I can't speak for everyone's situation, but I think my guy used to be overwhelmed by all that I threw at him, and now that we've simplified things, I feel like he's able to stay more focused. Hope that makes sense, and didn't get too off on a tangent! :)

  5. I only feel this twice a day! I too had grand ideas about how school would be fun and I'd prepare all sorts of cool games, activities, and art projects. I read other blogs and see all their cool crafts (which I shamefully admit I don't do often)I see the file folder games and all the cool learning things and really... I rarely do any of it. We talk a lot, read together, and do a lot of "formal" schooling. I actually was against doing formal learning... especially at this age... but then my daughter had other ideas. I go with what she enjoys and she enjoys worksheets and drill and has no patience with all the games. The kids decide for themselves and if your son shows signs of being happy, healthy, and well adjusted... then you're doing fine.

    At least that's what I tell myself!

    (and I still have grand ideas about doing all those cool things will my youngest)

  6. Oh yes, you're in good company on this feeling. The ironic thing is that literally I had that "not doing enough" feeling yesterday after reading your Reading to Mommy post. Yep, I felt that way after reading YOUR blog! The inadequate/overwhelmed feeling happened on a very regular basis when I first started surfing educational blogs. But I realized a couple things ~ my time with my kids is about the journey. If we are enjoy our journey together and we're still on the path of my long range and ultimate goals then I AM doing the right things for our family. Writing down my goal to raise my children to live well as adults, value our values and to be a person of great character, really helped me to accept the early preschool path we're on ~ albeit different than what I dream of doing. That's what I keep telling myself and I believe it too. Hugs to you. Ok: now go write down 15 things you're doing right! ;-)

  7. I totally relate to all that you expressed in this post. To be completely honest, most days more than not, I feel that I am not doing all that I should and could be in our homeschool. I'd thought we'd do more lapbooking with my two oldest, but the truth is, they only like to do it seldomly.

    After my fourth last year, I had to severely cut back on the detail of and amount of crafting we were doing. Simple and not as often now. I've fallen short in my goal of doing a Muffin Tin each Monday too, sigh....

    Sadly, my two-year-old didn't take to his trays either like I'd envisioned. And you are right, to have as many trays as I would need to keep him satisfied on a rotating basis is too expensive and too time consuming! So, I've had to start exploring other avenues to busy him as well. I am still looking for the answer to this one, he is where most of my mommy guilt comes in these days.

    I know that alot of my guilt comes from blog reading. I see so (too) much and think I am falling short. So, I know exactly how you feel. I've finally come to terms with each of our families/children are different and we each have to do whatever is best/most liked for our own homeschool. If we do this and are happy/our children are happy and learning (and yours ARE:-) ), we are doing all we can and should be!

    Thanks for this post.

  8. I love this post, and I've been there myself. It seems that everyone is doing more, their children are enjoying arts, crafts and carefully prepared activities. In our house the more I prepare the less success we have. I feel frustrated with all the efforts I "wasted" when Anna is not interested in the activity of my choice. And, believe me, this happens more and more often as she gets older. But then I look at my daughter and feel proud of what she achieved. She is happy, healthy, curious, intelligent and kind - everything that I wanted her to be. So it must be that we are doing something right, mustn't it?


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