Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.



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hobbitmom
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Posted: June 21 2008 at 5:23pm | IP Logged Quote hobbitmom

Has anyone used Barbara Curtis' books? What do you think?

Amazon reviews: Mommy, Teach Me!

Mommy, Teach Me to Read!

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Posted: June 24 2008 at 11:37am | IP Logged Quote JennGM

Amy,

Sorry to leave your question hanging in space. I have that book and some others in my cart by Barbara Curtis. I can't remember who recommended her, though. I tried retracing my steps to the blogs I thought might have mentioned her and can't seem to find it. The book that I've heard recommended the most is The Mommy Manual.

But they all look wonderful!

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Posted: June 25 2008 at 9:30am | IP Logged Quote Mackfam

I've never read them, Amy, but they look really neat to me! I always appreciate the viewpoint of a homeschooling Mom who is a trained Montessorian. It sort of brings both worlds to the table in a realistic way for me.

I may have to pop those in my Amazon cart to read! Thanks for linking and bringing them up.

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hobbitmom
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Posted: June 25 2008 at 1:58pm | IP Logged Quote hobbitmom

Danielle Bean's blog is where I first heard about Barbara. I just ordered these two books last week and am loving them. I've been gobbling up all the Montessori discussions here since last summer, and joined Karen's online class then as well... and then ds#2 arrived shortly thereafter. Ever since then I've been simply overwhelmed at the prospect of putting all this information into practice. For a while I was seriously considering just putting ds into preschool -- in spite of my determination to keep him home! -- because I was convinced a) Montessori was exactly what he needed and b) I couldn't possibly give him a decent Montessori experience myself.

It was all too much... too many books on the philosophy, too many manuals (Karen's, the ones at montessoribyhand, R&D, Su-Chen Jenny Yen's... I have binders upon binders lining my living room and bedroom bookshelves), too much money (I've written up purchase lists, pared them way back, priced materials at five different suppliers, presented the tab to dh, and had him stare at me in disbelief and ask "Are you actually going to use all this stuff?"), and too much stuff! I feel like I'm suffocating in things as it is, and we're currently going through a massive decluttering project.

But the worst stressor was simply not understanding how everything fit together -- not in theory, which I have PLENTY of, but in practice. I'm a big-picture thinker who was utterly lost in the many many details... I just couldn't see the overall view. I did finally place a couple orders several months ago (Montessori Outlet for sensorial and Montessori Services for practical life), but I was so intimidated by the materials that I was afraid to use them at all. "What if I don't present them exactly right, and then they're ruined for ds?" I asked my (very patient) dh. "I've just wasted $40 in five minutes."

His response? "Well, by never taking them out of the box you're guaranteed to waste the money... so you might as well give it a shot."

Enter Barbara. AMI-trained Montessori directress turned homeschooler of twelve and new Catholic convert. I wish I could hug the woman. Finally, it was like sitting down with someone warm, kind, calm and knowledgeable* who could tie all these swirling ideas together and make Montessori at home make sense -- and seem completely doable. (*This description fits all you dear moms! but I just needed a bigger overview than I was getting from individual posts.)     

I'd venture to say that moms who already have a year or more of Montessori homeschooling under their belts won't get too much out of the books, except for a friendly reaffirmation of the reasons they chose the method in the first place. But for newbies like me who are overwhelmed, intimidated, confused, and yet badly wanting to do Montessori too, they are a godsend. I'm really surprised the books havenít been mentioned here before.

Here's the table of contents for Mommy, Teach Me!
Chapter 1. Why Your Preschooler Can Thrive at Home
The Best Teacher Is Forever
The Best Classroom Has No Walls
The Best Instruction Doesn't Stop at Noon
The Best Foundation Is Love

Chapter 2. Releasing Your Teaching Ability: Five Strategies
Observation
Understanding
Example
Flexibility
Confidence

Chapter 3. Releasing Your Child's Learning Ability: Five Potentials
Independence
Order
Self-Control
Concentration
Service

Chapter 4. Small Beginnings Exercises
Underlying Objectives
Creating the Exercises
A Few Guidelines
Presenting the Exercises

5. Manipulatives

6. Imaginative Play

7. Beginning Math

8. Science

9. Geography

10. Fine Arts

11. Spiritual Life (Last, but not at all least!)

12. What Lies Beyond

You'll notice that reading and writing aren't part of the contents. They're addressed separately in Mommy, Teach Me to Read!

Her "Small Beginnings Exercises" are simply Montessori presentations. Of the materials she uses, she says she found everything "in places we usually go anyway: discount stores, drugstores, fabric stores, craft stores, secondhand stores, and garage sales." She does discuss the need to make the materials as complete and attractive as possible, but flexibility and creativity are more important to her than having the expensive "official" stuff. She offers lots of tips and suggestions for make-your-own materials.

I'll stop gushing now and get back to setting up our learning room! But I've learned so much and have been so blessed by everyone here that I wanted to offer this resource in case it helps anyone.

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Posted: June 25 2008 at 3:34pm | IP Logged Quote Meredith

What a great review Amy, you should forward this to Barbara, she would be so pleased

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JennGM
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Posted: June 25 2008 at 4:16pm | IP Logged Quote JennGM

Amy, Thank you so much! Fabulously detailed review and so helpful.

Have you read any of her other books?

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Posted: June 25 2008 at 4:19pm | IP Logged Quote JennGM

I also forgot to add I saw that Barbara sells her books on http://www.barbaracurtis.com/ and they are a little cheaper than Amazon, with $3 unlimited shipping, pay through Paypal.

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Posted: June 25 2008 at 5:01pm | IP Logged Quote Eleanor

I don't know why, I expected to like her books, but just didn't get into them.   It wasn't so much that I already had Montessori experience... it was more that her tone was a little overwhelming... "bustling" is a word that comes to mind. Maybe it's an introvert/extrovert thing?

My favorite writings for that age group are from Silvana Montanaro, the Lillards, and some of the R & D toddler albums. There's a sort of objectivity and minimalism in their presentation, which gives the reader plenty of mental space to absorb and contemplate these new concepts. Kind of like a Montessori presentation, now that I think about it.

Anyway, you might try reading her blog (or the articles at the link above), and see if her writing style and approach resonate with you.

It sometimes seems as if there are as many ways to say, "here's how to do Montessori at home with toddlers," as there are people doing Montessori at home with toddlers.

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Posted: June 25 2008 at 9:24pm | IP Logged Quote Mackfam

Amy,
That was such a helpful review for me!

It is always such a relief when I find a book/an author that speaks to me and opens my mind in a way that allows me to understand something in a clearer way. I love Barbara's perspective! I need her perspective! I need to hear from the busy mom of 12 - because I'm a busy mom of 4 and implementing Montessori is a worthwhile but challenging undertaking.

hobbitmom wrote:
Enter Barbara. AMI-trained Montessori directress turned homeschooler of twelve and new Catholic convert. I wish I could hug the woman. Finally, it was like sitting down with someone warm, kind, calm and knowledgeable* who could tie all these swirling ideas together and make Montessori at home make sense -- and seem completely doable.
   

So true, Amy! Yes, sometimes all of the swirling ideas (I like your phrase and find it is very accurate) seem disjointed and you wonder if there is any way to pull them together to resemble anything remotely resembling the vague idea bouncing around in your head. Ask me how I know.

hobbitmom wrote:
I'd venture to say that moms who already have a year or more of Montessori homeschooling under their belts won't get too much out of the books, except for a friendly reaffirmation of the reasons they chose the method in the first place. But for newbies like me who are overwhelmed, intimidated, confused, and yet badly wanting to do Montessori too, they are a godsend. I'm really surprised the books havenít been mentioned here before.


I've been using Montessori in my home to varying degrees for 8 years now. I never tire of learning about it. And, because the challenge of Montessori varies with each passing year, each new child entering the picture, each child's individual needs, I find I must re-evaluate and re-learn each year. This is the sort of book, the sort of voice I need to hear from. In short, I think it has value to anyone trying to implement this philosophy in their home.

hobbitmom wrote:
I'll stop gushing now and get back to setting up our learning room! But I've learned so much and have been so blessed by everyone here that I wanted to offer this resource in case it helps anyone.


Oh, how fun Amy, I love setting up the learning room for the new year! Such glorious potential in a new year! I'm so grateful you shared your review of this book. Thank you. Do remember as you look at our blogs and read here that we each tailor fit Montessori in varying degrees to fit each of our families. Don't be afraid to make this fit and work for your family in a *REAL* way. I'm excited for you!

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Posted: July 14 2008 at 8:12pm | IP Logged Quote JennGM

Amy, because of your review, I bit the bullet and bought those books. And I love them! I can't praise them enough! I really, really like her approach to Montessori in the home. I know this is early childhood learning but I love how she incorporates it in the home in such a seamless way.

Anyway, I had to post my own review. It's wordy....

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Posted: Aug 05 2008 at 8:02pm | IP Logged Quote JennGM

Just saw that Barbara is running a August sale on her books. Check it out! Buy 3, get one free, and other deals.
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Posted: Aug 06 2008 at 10:00pm | IP Logged Quote Mackfam

JennGM wrote:
Just saw that Barbara is running a August sale on her books. Check it out! Buy 3, get one free, and other deals.


Thanks, Jenn! I finally had a little mad money and was able to order 3 books! I can't wait to read them!!! And, thank you again Amy for introducing her to us in the first place!!!

By the way, Amy - how's it goin'? Did you finish setting up your learning room? Did you take those materials out of their boxes and start using them???

Let us know how you're doing when you get a chance.

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Posted: Aug 07 2008 at 12:51am | IP Logged Quote SuzanneG

I'm about halfway through "Mommy, Teach Me" and I really like it. I can see it definitely becoming a "must read" every year or at least every other year to keep me focused on the toddlers and pre-school aged children.

I'm also thinking it would be a very good gift for friends/parents/baby shower/birthday presents.

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Posted: Aug 07 2008 at 10:10am | IP Logged Quote Milehimama

I got it from the library, but I'm going to have to order them! The pictures are very helpful, too.
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Posted: Aug 07 2008 at 1:53pm | IP Logged Quote websterm

I just went on and ordered 3 + my free books! Can't wait to read them! Thanks for passing on the book special Jenn GM!

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