7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum

7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum


Choosing homeschool curriculum can feel like a daunting task.  

Math is a subject many homeschooling parents state they feel inadequate to teach. Throw in concerns about common core and state regulations, and choosing a math curriculum becomes even more difficult. Let’s take a look at the bigger picture, break it down into more manageable pieces, and think through choosing a curriculum together.

 

1. What is your educational approach and goals?

One of the most important things for a homeschooling family to decide is what your overall philosophy and goals for education are. Do you want school to be student-led or teacher-directed? Are you following a certain teaching approach such as Montessori, Waldorf, or Charlotte Mason? Are there state standards you need to follow? What are some of your goals for the school year? Thinking about all of these questions before researching curriculum can be helpful.

 

2. How much is your budget?

Cost can be a prohibitive factor for many families. Can you find the desired program used or get a coupon code from a blogger? How much is included in the cost of the curriculum? Will you need to purchase any other add-ons or manipulatives? Is the curriculum able to be used for many different ages or is it only for one year? Is the curriculum reusable for more than one child? How much support from the company comes along with the curriculum? The curriculum cost itself is just one factor.

 

3. How many children are you teaching?

Do you desire a curriculum that is grade-specific for each child or a curriculum that encompasses multiple ages and can be shared? Do you need to purchase new workbooks for additional children or can you make, or download, additional copies?  

 

4. How much time for teacher prep-work do you have?

Homeschooling families are busy! How much time do you have for prep before the lesson is given? Will an “open and go” math curriculum without teacher preparation help you free up time for other tasks?

 

5. How long would you like each lesson to be?

Math is an essential subject that takes time, consistency and practice to learn. Considering the length of lesson suggestions of each curriculum and your educational approach will help you narrow down your curriculum. If a curriculum is a good deal but takes too much of your time, you’re never going to use it. Your time and money are valuable.

 

6. What is your teaching style?

Are you a hands-on teacher or do you like to let your children tinker and find answers on their own? Do you prefer something concrete or do you prefer starting with abstract? Do you need the curriculum to provide lessons that incorporate review or do you like to review on your own?  

 

7. Do you desire a mastery-based or spiral-based approach?

Mastery-based curriculum requires the child to master a concept before moving on to something else. Spiral-based curriculum introduces a variety of “bite-size” concepts with increasing difficulty. With spiral-based math curriculum you will revisit topics regularly to build mastery.

 

8. Do you want a primarily visual program or one that addresses all the senses?

Most curricula are visual. Some include songs. Others include manipulatives that children play with. Others still include activities that use the major muscle groups (thighs, abs, and shoulders). Do you want a traditional, primarily visual curriculum where you make up the lessons for the other learning styles, or do you prefer a curriculum where those lessons already exist?

Hopefully, this helps you to feel more confident and empowered to choose a math curriculum. Here’s to a stress-free curriculum selection - and education!

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade


Larry Shiller

Larry Shiller is President of ShillerLearning, whose mission is to help kids learn - and enjoy - math.Shiller has degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Business School and is the author of Software Excellence (Prentice-Hall).

A father of three, Shiller is active in non-profits and his hobbies include working with local startups, music (Shiller is an accomplished violinist who - when not helping children learn math and language arts - performs in the NYC tri-state area), tennis (Shiller's team made it to the USTA national finals in his skill bracket), Quoridor (Shiller is a former USA Champion), backgammon (Shiller is the Voice of Backgammon, doing commentary on backgammon tournaments worldwide), table tennis, and flying (Shiller holds a private pilot's license).

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Do You Know These Celebrities Who Got Their Start with Montessori?

Do You Know These Celebrities Who Got Their Start with Montessori?


The Montessori Method has been growing in popularity in the U.S. during the last several decades. This beautiful and unique approach to education inspires a love of learning in children. This method also fosters independence, creative thinking, character development, and self-esteem. These schools can now be found almost worldwide, and have produced some famous individuals as a result of this unique form of education.

Famous Montessori Educated Students


“The Google Guys” & Other Tech Giants.

 

Larry Page and Sergy Brin the founders of Google are two of the most often mentioned alumni. They have honored their education on the Google homepage and have accredited their education as a key component to their success. Take a blast from the past and watch this ABC interview where the “Google Guys” talk about their preschool education.


Will Wright, who created the video game “The Sims,” was educated with this method. Now millions of people worldwide play his iconic game, and it was one of the first widespread computer video games.


Jeff Bezos, who recently became the wealthiest man in modern history history, better known as the founder of Amazon proudly discusses his educational roots whenever asked. A Bloomberg article states

“As a preschooler, Jeffrey P. Bezos displayed an unmatched single-mindedness. By his mother's account, the young Bezos got so engrossed in the details of activities at his Montessori school that teachers had to pick him up in his chair to move him to new tasks.”


(Read more at Jeff Bezos: The Wizard Of Web Retailing)

Musicians, Cooks & Actors


Dakota Fanning, got an early start in her school. She has stated she began reading at age 2 and attended a Montessori preschool prior to getting her start as an acclaimed actress. She got an early start and would later become the youngest-ever Screen Actors Award nominee and history’s youngest Academy member.


Sean Combs (better known as P. Diddy or Diddy), was educated in a Montessori school in New York. He is now a Grammy-award winning musician and recording artist.


Joshua Bell, is a world renowned Grammy-award winning violinist. His cultural experiment was recently the feature of a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post story in which Bell, who regularly sells out some of the largest venues in the world, went incognito at a Metro Station. The story is absolutely fascinating and the results were remarkable, make sure to check out the piece for yourself in Pearls Before Breakfast.


Julia Child, a celebrity chef, and author credits her education as a key component tho her development of dexterity and love of working with her hands. Her education began at age 4 and she grew up to become a household name.

Royalty & Historical Figures.


Princes William and Harry were both students of this remarkable learning method. Photos documenting the boys as they each headed off to their first day of school grazed magazine and newspapers. Now, Prince George is following in their footsteps and is also attending a Montessori preschool.


Anne Frank, got her start at three-years-old in a Montessori preschool. Her diary is now translated into over 60 languages and has become one of the best known books of all time. She was a pupil of this form of education from ages three-eleven, she then completed one year at a Montessori high school until the German occupation forbid her from attending school.

Amazing Outcomes!


While we can’t guarantee your student will grow up to become a household name, this education has great benefits for a student, and parent alike. We will take another look at additional individuals who were educated with this approach in a future post. For now, we hope that this article will inspire and encourage you, and your student, to pursue their education and reach their dreams. The sky truly is the limit and there’s always something new to discover and enjoy!

 

Want to help your child get started with this educational approach? Check out these posts we think you’ll love:


Visit our YouTube channel for lots of great How-To videos


Teaching Kids to Read With the Montessori Method


Free Activities and Printables


See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Colorado. She loves Colorado’s outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >

 

6 Reasons Homeschool Works Better Than Public School For Our Family

6 Reasons Homeschool Works Better Than Public School For Our Family


When Jonathan grows up he might sit me down to have a stern talk for all the “schooling experiments” I’ve put him though...

 

At only 7-years-old, my son has done Montessori homeschool for preschool, attended school at a local farm, attended a Montessori school for preschool and Kindergarten, and is now homeschooling again. One of the great things about homeschooling, is that the option is always there to change. If one isn’t working, there’s no reason to not say “this isn’t working for us, let’s give learning a different approach.”

A Montessori homeschool and Montessori classroom share many similarities. But there’s a lot different about that can completely change your child’s attitude. These activities can take your child from loving school --- to hating it with a passion. It really depends on your child’s learning style. Homeschoolers and teachers can learn a lot from one another. Making a decision about the type of schooling to pursue for our child is no easy task. They’ll both have pros and cons as well as similarities and differences.

 

Differences and Similarities to Consider Between Montessori Homeschool and a Montessori Classroom

 

  • Expertise in the Montessori Method - This is the most obvious. In a Montessori school, you’ll have at least one teacher who is Montessori certified. They’ll have extensive training on the Montessori method and will continue to receive ongoing training. There are a lot of good resources available for parents to learn, it can be time consuming and overwhelming to sort through all of it. We have a lot of great resources here on the blog and our You Tube channel to help you learn about the Montessori method.
     

  • Access to materials -  Montessori materials aren’t always cheap. And you always seem to need just one more manipulative before your homeschool is “perfect”. In a classroom, you have the benefit of not having to purchase materials. Homeschoolers can make a lot of materials on their own. You may also sell them second hand when their students are done with them. ShillerLearning kits are an affordable way to purchase materials for classroom, or homeschool.

  • Experiences - Both approaches are going to have drastically different access to experiences. While you might not be able to provide some of the visitors and school-wide events that a school might have at home, homeschool experiences can be unique too. As a homeschooler you can hit the road and do school from anywhere, take the day off to attend special local events, learn from Grandparents and Great Grandparents, and pursue unique interests.

 

  • Family involvement - There is an emphasis on family involvement in a Montessori school. Events will occur all year for families to take part in, parent volunteer opportunities will be available, parent visiting nights, and most Montessori schools have a lot less homework than public school so students can be more involved at home. Students who are homeschooling will have much more intimate family involvement, but a Montessori school is still going to keep the family involved.

  • Schedule - This is often one of the key points for parents between deciding what they’d like their child’s schooling to look like. For some families, the thought of having to get up and get their child off to school is stressful. Others find structure and routine ok and wouldn’t be intimidated by getting their student out the door in the morning. Homeschooling offers the ability to have a more relaxed schedule and avoids the time spent in the carpool line twice a day.
     

  • Real-life experience - Maria Montessori emphasized the importance of using real materials and real life experiences for children. In a school this is going to be in a much more prepared environment with child size items. At home they’ll be getting the real life experience right alongside you.

Selecting and evaluating our children’s educational choices is an important decision to make. It also doesn’t need to be the final answer. Determine your pros & cons, your priorities and make a decision. Remember that it’s not written in stone and you can make changes.

 

Want more tips on making a decision or transition to homeschooling? Check out these posts-

From Classic School to Homeschool: 8 Tips for New Homeschoolers

How to Choose the Correct Math Level for Your Child

TED Talks For Homeschool Reading Inspiration


Want to See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits?

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Colorado. She loves Colorado’s outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >

 

Do You Know These 5 Important Ways to Save Money While Homeschooling?

Do You Know These 5 Important Ways to Save Money While Homeschooling?


Money Saving Tips for At-Home Schooling

 

“I wanted to homeschool but when I looked into homeschool programs I felt like they were all too expensive.” A girlfriend shared this with me at the park as we discussed our kids education together. Parents with children in school spend anywhere between $200-$1500+ per student, per year on public school fees & supplies. At home school expenses can seem intimidating when a parent is looking to first start at home schooling.

 

Something that is important to remember when considering the financial implications, is you’ll be saving a ton of money on expenses you would be spending throughout the year. Commute expenses including wear and tear on your vehicle and gas costs driving to/from school (plus the added benefit of not spending an hour a day in the carpool line!), school lunches, extra fees for classroom parties, teacher gifts, school fundraisers, donation requests, etc. Homeschool programs can sometimes be as expensive as a school field trip, or with the right amount of looking free programs can be found. Most parents are pleasantly surprised to find they spend less in a school year than they did in a public schooling year.

ShillerLearning’s Top Five Money Saving Tips for Homeschoolers

 

  • Re-sell

 

This will mean something different to each family. Some families want a shiny new curriculum that they can resell it when their children are done. Other families purchase second hand curriculum or get hand-me-down curriculum from co-op friends. Check your local used bookstore and children’s consignment stores, they often have second-hand homeschool curriculum, sometimes in like new condition.   We occasionally have second hand curriculum offered on our website or join our Facebook community where people sell their Montessori inspired ShillerLearning materials when they’re completed with them.

 

  • Coupon!!

 

Don’t be scared, I’m not suggesting you go extreme couponing but keep your eyes peeled on coupons for craft stores. Those 40% and 50% off coupons can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars through your schooling time. The craft stores often have basic school supplies, organizing supplies, and great shelving for your Montessori materials. Check with the terms on your coupon, sometimes you can print multiples and go on different trips throughout the week or have each kid make a separate purchase. Also, check out mail in rebates, both through the store and directly through the manufacturer. Last year, I was able to get two reams of paper for 1 cent each and three packs of Sharpies for $1 each with rebates!

 

Bonus tip- Don’t forget to sign up for store loyalty programs. AND, often stores that offer an educator/teacher discount will extend this discount to at home schoolers. This is something they’re especially willing to do if you’re enrolled in an Umbrella school and can get a letter on school letterhead stating you’re a teacher for the school.

 

  • Think green & save green

 

Buy books second hand, find free eReader books through Project Gutenberg, host a book swap or visit the local library to keep your library fresh without spending too much money. Join a co-op and swap around Montessori shelf materials. Homeschool curriculum can be reused through multiple children in the same family, or resold. Curriculum in like new condition sells at a higher rate. Plus, it helps protect the environment. Consider using a job ticket holder and dry erase markers instead of writing directly in workbooks.

 

  • Shop Around and Ask for Price Matches

 

It pays to shop around. If you’ve got your eye on a homeschool curriculum, or a homeschool program you’d really like to attend, do your research. If you find the same curriculum, or a similar program, for less expensive, consider asking for a price-match. Local businesses are typically more than willing to do this as it helps them keep their business local. Online vendors can have prices vary up to 10% from one another. It pays to substitute a bit of your social media time to comparing prices and trying to get the best deal.

 

Bonus Tip- Don’t forget about web apps such as Ebates, Swagbucks, and Honey to get cashback or coupons on your purchases.

Do Your Shopping After School Has Already Started in Your Area & In the Spring

 

When I started homeschooling last year, we were also in the middle of a big transition in our living situation and had to replace virtually all our belongings. I went to the store the weekend after Labor Day to get supplies for the school year. There wasn’t a lot left, but enough of the basics remained. Best of all, they were 75%-90% off! The employee I spoke with at the store said they start marking supplies down the week after school starts and usually keep things available on clearance until they start setting up for Halloween. We were able to purchase everything we needed for our school supplies for under $25. Late winter/ early Spring is also a valuable time of year to start getting materials for next school year. This is the time of year many companies are attending conventions, and they often offer discounts to order curriculum during this time as well.

 

Want more money saving tips for materials? Check out these FREE Montessori Activities and Resources!


See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Colorado. She loves Colorado’s outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >

 

7 Tips to Incorporate Montessori Into Your Road Schooling

7 Tips to Incorporate Montessori Into Your Road Schooling


“I love the idea behind the Montessori philosophy but we spend so much of our day in the car- it’s too hard!”, “I would love to do a Montessori based homeschool but we’re full-time RVers and always on the road,” I hear these two phrases from people all the time.  

 

We live in a 200 square foot Airstream. While we’re not mobile yet, we live out in the country and spend an incredible amount of time in the car and space is incredibly valuable for us. I have over a decade teaching in Montessori Schools and knew we’d have a Montessori inspiration to our homeschooling. While a full Montessori homeschool room setup would be absolutely lovely, it’s doable to incorporate Montessori methods and ideas into your roadschooling. Be it roadschooling as a fulltime RV family, a family who spends a ton of time in the car and wants to complete school on the road, or you’re looking to get some school hours in while on trips this Spring.

Top 7 Trips to Incorporate Montessori Into Your Road Schooling:

 

1- Rethink your manipulatives. You’re obviously not going to want to be bringing along an entire moveable alphabet, golden beads, and a pink tower. Can you rethink these materials to be more car friendly though? Grab a magnetic set of letters (they make small magnetic boards specifically designed for spelling) & a set of small magnetic blocks or some Lego’s. Boom, you’ve got manipulatives that are easier to take along in the car!

 

2- Use file folders- Yes, the old fashioned file folders that we think about doctors offices storing patient data in. They are perfect to create mini-workspaces. You can attach a small pocket on the inside with a piece of paper and staple in printables of Montessori-based works.

 

3- Find an object bottles- Place several small items into a cleaned our plastic bottle, fill with rice or quinoa and you’ve got yourself a seek it bottle. A variation of this is often found in a Montessori classroom. Some families prefer to make a master list of all the objects for children to use.

 

4- Create small themed books- Small child-size books are great to bring along in the car. Create a book based on pictures of a blend your child is working on, an animal they’re interested in, or a word search book. These are great ways to bring along learning and keep kids interested in the car.

5- Create a “car school” box- Grab a plastic storage bin with a lid on it. As you find good, small, Montessori friendly items at your favorite stores you can keep them in the bin for your children to use.

 

6- Head to the hardware store before you hit the road- Color gradient matching is a great work for the road that can easily be created with free paint samples from the hardware store and adapted for all ages of kids. (If you’re not sure how to do this work, check out our most recent printable pack for the full work setup).

 

7- Rethink your rest stops- So much learning and exercise can happen at rest stops. Take a look at the informational signs, bring along your Montessori yoga cards for a quick workout and get a little bit of grace & courtesy practice picking up trash.

 

Roadschooling is a great way to keep your kids entertained in the car and fit in school time. Happy trails, we can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

 

Bonus idea- grab a couple of our CDs to listen to while you’re on the road, they help reinforce concepts and are catchy songs kids love.

 


Want to See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits?

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Colorado. She loves Colorado’s outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >

 

Why This Geography Map Is Perfect For Homeschool

Why This Geography Map is Perfect for Homeschool?


 

Hajime Narukawa has created a new map of the world that is about to turn your homeschool curriculum for Geography upside down. It fits in excellent with a Montessori homeschool approach and will surely get kids excited about active learning about our world. For decades we have used various updated versions of this classic map:

 

 

 

While familiar, it is an inaccurate depiction of the actual size, shape, and layout of the Earth. It’s quite difficult to accurately depict something round on a flat, rectangular surface. The above map does an ok job but vastly distorts the size of the oceans (especially the Pacific), makes Africa way too small and Greenland drastically too large. Antarctica is barely represented on the maps we’re all used to when in reality it’s one of the largest contents.  

 

Narukawa’s creation is, perhaps, the most accurate map you could include in your homeschool studies. Called the AuthaGraph, this map divides the world into 96 sections, is then projected onto an inflated tetrahedron which unfolded become a rectangle. It was a multi-step process that resulted in what may the most accurate world map ever created. It recently won the Grand Award from Japan’s Good Design Awards and is now featured in student’s textbooks across Japan.  

 


 

As you can see, “AuthaGraph faithfully represents all oceans [and] continents, including neglected Antarctica,” according to the Good Design Awards, and shows “an advanced precise perspective of our planet.” This one-of-a-kind map can even be manipulated to feature any point of the world at the center and still be accurate.  

 

Still a work in progress, Narukawa states some areas are still distorted. However, this map is great for homeschoolers to provide a more accurate view of our world. It would also be an interesting launching point for your children to compare the standard map to what is more accurate. One of the creator’s goals was to accurately depict the areas near to poles so as to raise awareness of

our rapidly melting ice caps. Homeschoolers could have some interesting discussion and study on climate change with this map as well.  


 

What do you think of this unique and revolutionary map? Is it a teaching tool you’d use in your homeschool classroom?  Comment below if you think so!

 


Want to See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits?

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Colorado. She loves Colorado’s outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >