For that you need the work period. Not a list of works to be checked off (although that can be valuable see more about work plans, here), but a designated period for working. Although I had recommitted myself to the materials, I found myself needing to rededicate myself to the methods as well.
I will not lie. The first day was scary. We finished our morning meeting and the boys wanted to know what their first work was.
But I didn't tell them.
Instead I suggested two works that they would either benefit from or had been previously assigned (Aidan only, Caleb doesn't get follow up work) and reminded them which materials were open during school time.
And then I waited.
When I say waited, I mean I glanced around nervously half begging them to call my bluff. I bit my lip while they looked back at me.
Then, they stood up and went to work. I said to myself, Can it be this easy?
Now they both find a work before I start lessons which means less wasted time and fewer interruptions. Why didn't I think of that before? I thought I was helping the transition by calling one of them immediately to lesson or assigning their first work. It turns out I was actually doing them a disservice because they were depending so heavily on me for direction.
I'm sure that many seasoned Montessori homeschool moms would never make my mistake. They know better than to be tempted by the ease of schedules, lessons, and assignments and a quick education. They know that those things only give the perception of order instead of actually providing it.
Don't just believe me, however, believe Aidan. Believe him when he tells you that he's decided to count the 1000 chain, even though it has never been assigned. Believe him when he spends well over an hour doing just that.
Believe him when he starts his morning so focused on math that the focus spills over into his geography work and he decides to challenge himself to see how many countries he can label without looking at his atlas.
Believe both of them when they do finish their assignments and choose to curl up on the couch with a book, or grab some art supplies and build a paper model of a bird house or a tomb (think Easter, not morbid) instead of trying to rush off to other things because they know it isn't time yet.
Believe me when I tell you that a self organized, self directed period of work helps with focus, confidence, and discipline.
All of which ultimately help with learning.