Montessori Research & Development Teacher's Manuals
If you've never browsed the materials at Montessori Research & Development, press pause on reading this article and go there to see their products. They offer high-quality teachers' manuals, curriculum materials, and books pertaining to Montessori teaching method.
Thus far, I've discovered that there is one thing that even surpasses the excellence of their products: their customer service. Albeit, I only dealt with one of their representatives, but I was extremely impressed with how accommodating she was, going far away and beyond the call of duty.
The best example of this had to do with shipping to Canada. International buyers beware: contact the company directly via e-mail or phone when placing your order because their on-line shipping calculator is utterly daft. When I tried to place my order through their online check-out, the price of shipping was greater than the cost of my entire shopping cart! It was clear that something just wasn't right, so I e-mailed the company and found out that shipping to Canada had a flat rate of $32.85 per box (that being the least expensive option). Since my order didn't fill the box completely, their representative and I fiddled around with the contents, adding and subtracting manuals until the box was as full as it could get!
In the end I bought the following Early Childhood teachers' manuals:
- LANGUAGE ARTS MANUAL VOL. II
- MATHEMATICS VOLUME 1
- SENSORIAL MANUAL
- SENSORIAL MATERIAL VARIATIONS AND EXTENSIONS
- SENSORIAL EXTENSIONS FOR THE BEAD CABINET
- ZOOLOGY MANUAL
In addition to my order directly through Montessori Research & Development, I have purchased several of their items used from other Montessori parents. These items were:
- GEOGRAPHY MANUAL
- PHONIC WORD LISTS
- SINGLE WORD BOOKLETS (please note: The booklets at this link are the blue series booklets; the booklets I bought are the pink series booklets. I couldn't find them on the Montessori Research & Development website, but this gives the general idea. If you are looking for details on the pink series booklets, please contact Montessori Research & Development directly as I'm sure they will be helpful in this regard)
- INITIAL SOUND PICTURE CARDS
- PHONIC PICTURES WITH WORD LABELS
Of all the products I have from Montessori Research & Development none of them have been less than excellent quality. The manuals are available either bound or in loose leaf. I opted for the bound when buying them directly, but the Geography Manual came in loose leaf. There are advantages to having the loose leaf: once you've hole-punched it and put it in a binder you can add in regular loose leaf pages between lessons to add your own notes. Having the manuals bound means that there's no chance of pages disappearing into the fourth dimension, which would be entirely too likely in my case! At any rate, I have no problem with writing directly in the manuals, since they are mine and now that baby #2 is on the way, I'll be re-using them rather than selling them.
The lessons themselves are generally short, clear, and rather easy. Naturally the manuals assume full access to Montessori materials, so I try to keep reading a few lessons ahead so I know what will need to be made. Thus far, I am making the most use out of the Mathematics, Language Arts, and Sensorial manuals, though I am branching further into Geography and am planning out materials for Zoology. Until then we're continuing with human anatomy - more on that later.
Initially I had thought the cost of manuals at Montessori Research & Development were too high (at least for my budget), but as I searched for other teachers' manuals I began to realise just how reasonable their prices were. For example, the Mathematics manual was $30.00 American. Even after having placed my order I still thought that particular manual expensive - until I received the parcel! Then, as I hauled out the Mathematics manual, which proved to be much heavier and was indeed much larger than any of the other manuals, I understood the higher cost. In fact, the Mathematics manual will not only be used during the preschool years but the lessons run for children from age 3 to age 8! In my opinion, that's value.
In trying to decide which manuals to order, I found reading the table of contents very helpful. They are available for almost every teachers' manual on the website and can be invaluable when trying to decide which level of Language Arts will be best for your child.
A couple of the wonderful consequences of having concrete teachers' manuals are that I can spend a lot less time online trying to find out what the appropriate next lesson will be after Ella absorbs the current lesson, and that I can carefully pick which materials I will most want to have at hand.
For example, the breadth of use of the Montessori bead material for mathematics in the Mathematics manual made it abundantly clear that having real beads as opposed to images of beads or stick-lengths coloured to represent the bead material would be worth the cost, time, and effort of getting real beads and making all the math materials. Having looked over the lessons I can see that they will get a lot of use and will be used for a lengthy period of time - at least into middle elementary.
Essentially, having the actual manuals makes it much easier to prepare lessons, figure out what is worth making (or buying, as the case may be), streamline your resources, and minimize the hassle of printing up hundreds of lessons from online and then having to sort and order them. The manuals make Montessori homeschooling easier - both for you and for your child. That is really worth it!
Please note that the photographs displayed in this review are copyrighted to Montessori Research & Development and each is linked to it's original source on their website. (At least I hope they are - I tried to link them properly!)
Questions and comments on this post are welcome and further discussion as a result will probably end up happening in the "comments" section. If they are too numerous and/or require more depth of discussion, I'll post a sequel to this blog with more details.