How to Avoid Pitfalls In a Mid-Year Homeschool Curriculum Switch

How to Avoid Pitfalls In a Homeschool Curriculum Switch


Did you know a large majority of homeschoolers who change curriculum, do so mid-year? If something isn’t working for you- don’t torture yourself (or your kids) with it! Part of the joy of home education is that we can customize it. If something needs tweaking, we have the freedom to adjust. Even if it means a mid-year change.

 

Switching curriculum can be a bit anxiety provoking. We already know how to homeschool. It can make us start to second guess our ability when we need to make a change. It doesn’t need to! Not all materials follow the same scope and sequence. Not all curriculum covers the same things for the same ages. Even discerning which levels your student(s) need can be difficult. Especially with a mid-year switch. If you’re ready to take the leap of faith to a mid-year switch, we hope this information will be helpful.

How to Avoid Pitfalls in a Mid-Year Homeschool Curriculum Switch

 

Signs you might want to think about switching your homeschool curriculum

 

How do you know if a mid-year switch is right for you? If you’re finding yourself in any of these situations, you may want to think about a change:

 

  • Your children dread school

 

  • Arguments occur over lessons

 

  • Tears! There should not be tears in school

 

  • You don’t like teaching the materials

 

  • The materials are requiring too much prep work

 

  • Special needs or learning disabilities are diagnosed

 

  • Major life change occurs- such as the birth of a baby, major move or job change, significant illness, or any other circumstance that changes your schedule

 

  • The kids are bored

 

  • School is stressful

 

  • Lessons are too challenging

 

  • Lessons are too easy

 

  • Lessons don’t make sense

 

  • It doesn’t fit your student’s learning style

 

  • You find yourself browsing other choices online

 

  • Something new came onto your radar you can’t stop thinking about

 

  • You don’t like it- no other reason needed

 

If any of these are relatable, it’s safe to say a mid-year switch may be in your path.

How to decide what to switch to

 

If you know a switch is needed, how do you decide what to move onto? Unless you have fallen in love with something else- you’ll need to find something new.

 

First, make a list of the reasons why you want to switch. Think through everything you don’t love about your current materials. Write down all the concerns, problems, frustrations, etc. This doesn’t need to be in-depth. Jot them down and get them out of your mind and on to paper. No guilt. No worries.  

 

Next, Look over the list to see if there’s any way you can modify your homeschool curriculum. If you don’t like it because it’s too easy, can you skip ahead to lessons later on? If the children are getting bored but you love the material, can you shorten the length of time on lessons? Often quality is much more valuable than quantity. If the lessons don’t fit your child’s learning style, can you make a few simple adjustments to fix it? Start looking into options if you can’t find a way to modify what you’re working with currently.

 

Then, make a list of anything you liked from your previous materials. Also, make a list of things you’d like to see in your new materials. Use those phrases for your web search. Hop onto your favorite homeschool forum or Facebook group to ask for suggestions. By thinking through it all, you have good keywords to search for and generate discussions.

 

Last, pull the plug. Sell your old materials and move onto something new. No guilt over not seeing the other material through to completion. This is why we homeschool. For freedom and flexibility!

What to do when the new materials arrive

 

The materials have come. Your bright, shiny new curriculum is here. What do you do next? Go to the middle and start from there? Start at the beginning? It feels a lot easier to start at the new year right from the start. Don’t be scared! It doesn’t have to be difficult to figure out where to start. You won’t need to sit down and read through every single lesson trying to decide what your student does and does not need to cover. Take the joy in knowing how to homeschool and get ready to make your journey even better.

 

ShillerLearning has made this process totally pain-free and easy. You could switch curriculum mid-year, a month into school, or with only a few weeks left. We’ve set it up to be easy to know exactly where to start, and exactly what lessons to cover.  

 

In each of our books, we have assessments. They’re not boring blue book tests. No filling in bubbles, confusing multiple choice, or stress. ShillerLearning testing is multisensory; these are set up in a way that is fun and engaging for kids. We hear all the time from parents how excited their children are when they get to an assessment section. (It happens to be my son’s favorite part, he literally jumps up and down.)  

 

Everything is 100% scripted for you. All you need to do is open up the first book and read the script. Have the manipulatives for the book available as well. Depending on the level of knowledge with Montessori materials, you may wish to briefly introduce the materials. If neither of you are familiar with them, don’t worry. The assessment will help you figure out exactly what lessons you need to cover with which materials. (Told you we made it easy!)

 

How to determine the starting point for your new homeschool curriculum:

 

1. Grab a pencil for your student, and something for you to write notes on.  

 

2. Open up to the first assessment in the first book of your kit. They are called “Review Tests” in the book. We have you go through them first to see what exactly needs to be covered. Then you go through them again after finishing the section to assess competency and closure. You’ll also want to have the answer guide available.

 

3. Read the brief opening script about what the assessment is.

 

4. Begin the assessment. All you need to do is read the script. Each question tells you which lesson number covers that subject. If the child is unable to answer the question, make note of the lesson number you need to cover.

  • If a student knows the answer but still wants to cover that lesson, that’s fine too! Children often like to repeat lessons or subjects. We call this gaining competency and closure.
  • If the child knows all the answers to the first review test, move onto the next one. You may need to complete several review tests before getting to the right section for your student. In some cases, you may even need to move onto another book. (In the case that you find you’ve purchased the wrong kit, please give us a call and we’ll swap you out for the proper kit! You also have the option of purchasing the diagnostic tests to help determine which kit is right for your student.)

 

5. Begin at the first lesson your child needed to cover. As you work through the materials, allow them the opportunity to work through all the lessons if they desire. It’s always ok for students to cover a lesson even if the review test didn’t say they needed to.

 

6. Enjoy the peace, joy, and ease that comes from an open-and-go curriculum that covers all the learning styles!

Like this? Check out this post on Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum.


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 Washington. She loves Washington'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.

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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!

 


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.

 


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 Washington. She loves Washington'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 Washington. She loves Washington'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


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 Washington. She loves Washington'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 >

 


Montessori Toddler Development Tips

How Montessori Toddler Development Tips Give Kids Independence


The toddler and preschool years can be trying. It takes forever to get out the door. Personalities are being developed and then the word “no” has been discovered. Independence is being evaluated- and tested! We want to foster the development of our tiny little humans, yes. And- sometimes we just need to get out the door! It can be far too easy to fall into the habit of doing everything for our kids. Yet with a little bit of work, we can foster independence and make life easier for ourselves too!

 

Winter can be an especially difficult time with young children at home. Getting out the door takes a lot more clothing and gears. We have more layers, more buttons, more snaps, and laces. We’re also stuck indoors a lot more often and working hard to keep cabin fever away. This is the perfect time of year to put a few systems in place. We can use the benefit of the extra time indoors to start fostering more of the independence our children yearn for!

Montessori Toddler Development Tips Help Toddlers & Preschoolers With Independence

 

The Montessori method places a large focus on independence for kids. In a Montessori classroom, you’ll find this everywhere. There are kid-size sinks where you’ll see even tiny children washing dishes after a meal. Kid-size cleaning supplies are provided and children happily clean up after themselves. Shoes are set neatly along the wall with coats hung tidily on pegs. One of my favorite things, when I worked at a Montessori school, was the tiny little vases and fresh flowers. Even our 2-year-olds got in on these daily activities. Most Montessori toddler programs even have tiny little toilets and sinks. (It’s worth it to take a tour of a local Montessori school to check it out! Homeschoolers can garnish a lot of ideas by checking out a classroom set up!)  

 

Not only are the classes set up to be friendly to toddler development, the kids joyfully participate. While it’s not logistical for homeschoolers to have quite a set-up, there is a lot that we can do. If we set our children up for success, they’ll be able to fall into a routine much easier. As we give them skills towards independence, suddenly these years become much smoother and more joy-filled.

 

Putting these systems in place don’t have to be time-consuming. You can start with a few things this winter.

  • Set up shelves.  

 

In a Montessori setup, there’s a place for everything and everything has its place. When you walk into a Montessori home- you’ll know right away. There will be low shelves at the child’s height with a few items. Skip the overflowing toy bins. Skip the catch-all drawers. Provide a few low shelves with just a few items on them. The toys can be rotated out on a regular basis. By setting things up this way, even the youngest of children know exactly where the toy goes when they are done playing with it. Toddler development can be fostered with an easy-to-access space for your children.  

 

I will never forget how cute it was watching my son toddle back and forth from his shelf to put things away. He even started to “get” the concept as a crawler- the toys were not put back in exactly the right spot but they made it back to the shelf. Part of the reason playrooms get so messy is because kids get too overwhelmed. They get stuck with decision fatigue and too much stimulation and don’t know how to even clean up. Setting up a few shelves for littles can be huge at home- especially for mothers raising a large family.

 

  • Create a cubby.  

 

Yes, we all think of cubbies when we think of preschool. Kids LOVE to have their own little cubby area by the door. Even if it’s just a shoe box and a stick-on-the wall hook for their coat. If kids are provided a space all their own, putting away their “gear” becomes much easier. Providing kids with a little Montessori toddler cubby helps organize your home in amazing ways!

 

When my son was little he had space right next to the door. It was a small box for his shoes, a small box for his hat, mittens & scarf, and a little hook for his coat. As a tiny child, it was great to have a spot right at the front door that was nice and organized and all his own. He even took part in selecting everything. I’ve seen parents build cubbies out of wood and let their children decorate them too.

 

  • Work on shoe skills.  

 

Yes, learning to tie shoes is hard. Yes, toddler shoes can be the thing of nightmares. Some children won’t be able to do this for quite some time. If you can at least get your child independently putting on and taking off their shoes, that can save a lot of time. Put some time into it when you’re not trying to rush out the door! Snow boots are a good way to practice because they’re easier to slip into. (Practice putting on a hat, coat, and mittens help too!)

 

  • Tag at the toes.

 

Oh, friends, the tag at the toes is one of the best kept Montessori toddler secrets. Children unzip their coats and place them on the ground in front of them. The coat is placed so the tag is at the child’s toes. The child can then bend down, stick their arms through the arm holes and flip the coat up and over their head. It takes a bit of practice but is hands down the easiest way to teach kids to get their coats on.

 

Plus, it’s super cute! I used to love watching a classroom full of kids doing this when I taught.

  • Coat on backward.

 

For trips where you’re child needs to get in a car seat, putting a coat on backward is a great trick to have up your sleeve. Toddler development means little ones need to be in still. Carseats and bulky coats aren’t a safe combination. When the weather is cold, we want our children to be warm and safe in the car. Kids can get strapped into their car seat and then slip their coat on backward to stay warm in the car. Kids can learn how to do this with practice. Strap them into their seats in a nice, warm car when you’re not rushing trying to get somewhere. Take the time to practice and it’ll save you a lot of work when you’re trying to get somewhere on time. (Or teach them tag at the toes with a nice, warm, thin fleece that can be worn in a car seat.)

 

  • Purchase a tiny snow shovel and push broom.  

 

Kids LOVE to help shovel snow. Granted, tiny children aren’t going to be clearing a ton of snow. But they really enjoy it. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and the ability to help. (Plus it tires them out so they’ll take a good nap!)

 

  • Build a love of learning.  

 

Winter is the perfect time to cozy up inside and foster a love of learning. Young children can use our kits, and we include activities for them in our monthly printable packs. Everything is set up in a way designed to help foster toddler development and the independence your child desires. Plus the educational skills you desire!

 

When we foster independence from an early age, our kids needs are met much easier. Toddlers are misunderstood. It’s hard to be such a bitty person in a great big world. With a few simple steps, we can help set them up for success! Stay tuned for more tips on setting up a Montessori-inspired home for even the youngest members of your family.


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 Washington. She loves Washington'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 >

 


Phenology Wheel for Homeschool Nature Study

Phenology Wheel for Homeschool Nature Study


“There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature, to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature… so that the child may better understand and participate in the marvelous things which civilization creates.”

 

Maria Montessori


How to Start Using a Phenology Wheel, and Why You’d Want To!

 

A huge trend among homeschooling families is nature study. In an era where we are indoors more than ever before in human history, getting our kids (and ourselves) outside more often is a huge benefit. In addition to the popular nature journal, a Phenology wheel can be an excellent addition to nature study for homeschoolers, and parents alike.

Phenolo What?!?!

 

Phenology sounds like something you might see on a nameplate at a doctors office. In reality, Phenology is the study and observation of natural events and cycles. Typically, people are studying climate & seasonal changes. Phenology is a fantastic way to get more in touch with the tune of nature and observe the subtle changes the Earth gives us of where we’ve been, and what’s to come.

 

What is a Phenology Wheel?

 

A Phenology wheel is simply a way to document your observations in one spot. It allows you to make note of your observations and keep an easy-to-use record of what you’ve seen. Phenology wheels help us to stop and reflect on something we might not otherwise notice. When we work on phenology wheel, we notice the changes in plants, trees, wildlife, weather, and ourselves in a way we never have before. The wheel enables our children to notice small details and to grasp the calendar in a new way.

Generally, people draw their observations and use the wheel as a visual guide and enhancement to their nature journal. However, if you’re not artistic (or have a student who does not like to draw) the wheel can be written on instead. The wheel itself is simply a circle broken up into equal sections. Traditionally, the wheel is made to reflect one year, so it is broken up into twelve sections. We will use this model as our example.

 

How do I get started?

 

Making a Phenology Wheel is easy. It just requires a compass, protractor, pencil, ruler, and art supplies (alternatively, a large enough circular object to trace would work). You can make your own or use the template we’ve provided below get it here.  
 

  • Begin by making a large circle on the center of your paper
  • Next, make a small circle within in- about a ¼-½ inch smaller than your first circle
  • Next, make a small circle in the very middle of your larger circle- a couple inches across is good
  • Divide your two inner circles into even sections of 12 (this is a great math opportunity!)
  • Don’t divide up that outer ring you created
  • Time to label
  • Around the outside ring, label your seasons (people often color coordinate this as well)
  • The first “layer” gets the months of the year written at the top of each section
  • Leave the inner ring blank for now

 

How to use your Phenology Wheel?

 

Now that you have set up your wheel, how on Earth do you put it to work? To a certain extent, this is totally up to you. The natural world, your current Science study, and the interest of your homeschoolers can be your guide. Pick two different things to study throughout the year, we’ll give you some ideas below. Also, pick a day of the month to make your observations (it’s ok if you get off a day or two in either direction.)

 

You’ll head out on your designated day each month and make your notes and artwork to have a beautiful visual record at the end of the year. The outer wheel and inner wheel can be used to observe two different things, two different aspects of the same thing, or one for drawing and one for written notes. As the year progresses, you’ll begin observing more astutely and keenly what changes are happening right under your eyes that you might not have otherwise notices.

 

If desired, spend time studying what you’re observing from books and documentaries as well. Perhaps you could even visit with a local expert or arrange a class at a nature center. You can even adapt the science portion of your homeschool curriculum to include information on what you’re documenting.
 

Here are a few ideas for observation:

 

  • Use the outer circle to observe an animal, and the inner a place in your yard

  • Observe your household pet’s fur and habit changes throughout the year

  • Make note of the changes sees in a tree and an area with wildflowers

  • Go to the beach at the low time and make note of the animals seen on the outer circle, and tide times on the inner

  • Use the wheel to document the height/weight of your student(s), and something they learned, a first, or something they loved each month

  • Observe the sky and stars

  • Make note of the fur on your favorite zoo animal and any other changes taken in their living environment.

 

This method can also be used on a smaller scale. Perhaps set up a wheel for a month or two observation of the growth of your favorite garden vegetable! Or if you live somewhere with snow, observe the different types of snowflakes and the weather when they fall. This is also a popular way to observe the moon cycles each night over the course of a month.

As you can see, there are countless ways to incorporate this tool into your at homeschool curriculum. The entire family can observe the same thing, or everyone can choose to study something different. Depending on the approach you take, you could be including, art, science, research, reading, and math with this beautiful project.

 

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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 Washington. She loves Washington'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.

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