Tips to Avoid Homeschool Cabin Fever

Tips to Avoid Homeschool Cabin Fever

Ah, winter. Cozy days in front of the fire. Decorations hung around the house. Snowflakes on the window panes. Holiday songs on the radio. It’s the season of candles, warm drinks, tasty treats, and togetherness. The time we hunker down, slow down and reconnect.


Yes, all these things are true. Know what else is true? Cold + Kids = Cabin Fever


Confession, winter can sometimes feel a little bit like torture as a homeschool parent. Homeschool cabin fever is a real struggle, especially for homeschool families. Believe me, I live in 210 sq ft and I can’t stand being cold. Staying inside in our sweats with the heat blasting is a tempting option. Until the cabin fever sets in. Let’s be real, it can get ugly. It doesn’t have to!  

Avoiding Homeschool Cabin Fever


The key? Beat it before it shows up. Yes, you may have a massive snowstorm and be stuck inside. With a little bit of planning and some tools on your side, you can avoid cabin fever this year. It’s going to take a little bit of effort. And, yes, you will probably get cold. Believe me, I never want to leave my house when I know I will get cold. Know what else will happen other than being cold? Memories, laughter, learning, and fun. After I get myself out the door, I’m always glad I did. (Don’t worry, not all these tips require venturing out into the cold! I have several cozy ideas for at home).


Tips to avoid cabin fever:


  • The “Snowy Day” Box (or rainy day box if you’re in the PNW like me!) This proves one of my best investments of time and money time and time again. It’s a box full of special items that only come out when I think cabin fever is trying to sneak in. I actually have two boxes. One box with brand new items and another with special “snowy day” items. The new items come out when the situation is desperate. It then gets added to the other box when we put it away. The box is never out more than a couple of days in a row. It might only make an appearance every few weeks. But my-oh-my is it a godsend. I collect items all year long. It’s a great way to gather things when they’re on sale. Fill it with toys, books, instruments, blocks, activity books, art supplies, balls, craft materials, nail polish, snacks… you get the idea. (Note- this is also awesome to pull out if unexpected company shows up and you need the kids to be entertained. Or if you want a few hours to catch up on your favorite show on Netflix!)


  • A co-op or nature group- One of the best motivators for me to get out of the house is our nature group. Even on the coldest days, we’re excited to go. The time with other homeschool families refreshes our souls. It’s my precious time to go be with other Mamas. It’s our time for friendship and exploration. Finding something you’re excited about is a huge motivating factor to get out. You don’t even have to take off the sweatpants! Plus, the kids are 100% worn out at the end of the day. It’s the perfect way to spend a morning followed by a quiet afternoon at home. (Note- a pre-paid class is also super motivating.  


  • New homeschool activities- Introducing a child to a new activity is an excellent way to capture their attention. It’s especially great at keeping cabin fever away. ShillerLearning works hard to create beautiful FREE activity packs every month. They’re full of projects, lessons, crafts, games, and more. Download a few and grab the needed materials now before you need them. They’re sure to keep the kids engaged and supply you with options when “Mom, I’m bored!” comes your way.


  • Create- Nothing works quite like tapping into creativity. This is the season of crafts, baking, and cooking. I’m not surprised. Creating keeps away the cabin fever! Make a list of project ideas and recipes. Have ingredients and supplies on hand. Create to your heart’s content!


  • Explore- Exploring nature in winter is remarkable. Animals are easier to track. Changes in plants are observable. The air is fresh and clean. Plus, snowball fights aren’t going to happen inside!


  • Manage your mindset- Our minds and words are powerful. Try to watch what you’re saying and thinking. If everyone is constantly complaining about how horrible winter is and how tired they are of being stuck inside, change it! Even if you don’t believe it quite yet, change it. Turning your talk and thoughts positive and finding gratitude may be the biggest key to beating cabin fever.


  • Play- Break out the board games! This can be especially meaningful for parents to have 1:1 time with kids. If your children are picking fights, try playing a game with a couple of them while the others do one of the above activities.


  • Staycation- Three words: kids love motels. Some of my family’s favorite memories have been weekend winter getaways within 60 miles of home. Book a night or two somewhere different. Take the chance to be a tourist in your own town. This is a surefire way to beat homeschool cabin fever and refresh your mind and soul! Or book somewhere with a heated indoor pool. Grab yourself a great read and let the kids splash while you relax.  


Even though it feels like it might, winter really doesn’t last forever. I promise. Try some new homeschool activities and enjoy! Make the most of it and before you know it, beach season will be back!

Don’t forget to have a few of our FREE activity packs on hand to beat cabin fever! And check out our Partner Products for some beautiful new Montessori-inspired items for your “snowy day” box.

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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, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

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Do You Dream of a Homeschool Coach?

The journey of educating one's children is filled with both highs and lows. Some days everything seems to click. The kids are learning. They are joyful. They are motivated and creative. All is right with your homeschool world and it feels like you have found your calling as a homeschooling parent.

Other days the opposite feels true. You are interrupted a thousand times. The kids are fighting and you are pretty sure they will never learn how to multiply, divide, or write legibly. On these days you wonder if the decision to educate your kids at home was a big mistake, and you are doing them a terrible disservice.

Everyone has these mixed days and conflicted emotions. Thankfully, you don’t have to travel this road alone. At ShillerLearning, we are passionate about partnering with parents in educating their kids. Many parents call or email for encouragement or with questions, and we are great at helping you remember why you chose to do this in the first place. ShillerLearning representatives have a combined 71 years of homeschooling experience to share; no matter what you are going through, we have probably been there and felt that!

Here at ShillerLearning, we ascertain that for every parent who calls our easy 888-556-6284 number for help there are at least 23 other parents who could really use the same pep talk and coaching. For this reason, we are launching Your Homeschool Coach. As veteran homeschool parents we have created for you delicous bites of encouragement, words of wisdom, and useful teaching tips, applicable no matter what curriculum or program you have. You are not alone! Let us come alongside you; helping and encouraging you to be the best homeschool parent you can be.

Do You Dream of Having a Homeschool Coach?

For those of you who have gotten off the phone with one of our veteran homeschool parent representatives, remember that feeling of relief and hope? As you hung up the phone you realized everything was going to be ok. You received some practical advice and suggestions which renewed your confidence and helped you get back to what you really do best: loving and educating your rambunctious, creative, curious, active, darling children. Your kids are actually pretty normal, and everyone has doubts sometimes.

Your Homeschool Coach will bring you pep talks and practical words of wisdom. I venture to guess that you will feel more confident and your parenting “gas tank” will stay full longer.

Our mission is to bring joy to your homeschool. We want your child to not only learn, but to love it! And guess what… We have the same goal for you. We want you to feel fulfilled and love your homeschool life.

Subscription to Your Homeschool Coach with encouragement and hope in your email inbox is absolutley FREE!

Your Homeschool Coach will bring you inspirational quotes to remind you what drew you to homeschooling in the first place.

We want to help you keep that spark of excitement going week after week. It’s easy to get caught up in the tasks of each day, and lose focus on the joy of learning. Staying inspired is key to fostering that deep love of learning.

We will also share teaching tips gathered from Maria Montessori’s own work as well as many other worthy sources. I don’t know about you, but I love short tips and reminders that keep me on track or give me a fresh new way of approaching something. Keeping you from getting stuck in a rut, our quick tips will brighten your days, and keep you focused on your bigger goals.

In addition to great tips and inspiration, Your Homeschool Coach will also include fun activities. Have you ever downloaded one of our amazing activity packs? If so, you know they are chock full of great ideas and fun things to do with your kids. Most of these activities are also easily completed with items you have on hand. At no charge to you, we will include similarly easy and fun projects for you and your kids in Your Homeschool Coach. These might be seasonal or holiday specific, math or language arts activities, or they might be a science experiment that we loved and think you will too.

Whether you are just getting started or you’ve been homeschooling for years, Your Homeschool Coach will brighten your days and keep you refreshed and inspired. Sign up today!

Catherine Donnelly

Catherine began her formal education journey in Montessori preschool. Following a short stint in regular school she was homeschooled from 5th grade on. After being her college's first homeschooled graduate, she and her husband decided upon home education for their five children. 27 years, and many adventures later, she is still homeschooling their youngest 3 children. The foundation of Maria Montessori's principles have been a consistent thread throughout their learning journey and Catherine was delighted to discover Shiller Learning and join forces with them in 2020. In her sparse free moments, she can be found reading with her children (or hiding in a corner reading by herself); writing articles for her blog, books or various clients; playing with her children; or dressing up in various time period costumes and traveling to historical sites.

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20 Homeschool Parent Best Practices Do’s and Don’ts

Every parent wants nothing more than to be the best parent they can be to their children. Unfortunately, kids don’t come with a detailed or individualized manual, and every child is unique. Educating one's own kids just compounds this dilemma. How can a parent love, teach, care for, and nurture their relationships with their children without crumbling?

At ShillerLearning we want you to succeed at parenting and homeschooling, so we have curated for you a list of 20 Homeschool Parent Best Practices Do’s and Don’ts.

With a little intention and daily practice, you can truly be the parent you want to be.


20 Homeschool Parent Best Practices

Do’s and Don’ts

In homeschooling and parenting in general, parents will be successful when they follow these best practices:


✔️ Praise, praise, praise (Montessori-style recognition that does not interrupt work or lead a child to seek outside approval as motivator, for example: “I see how hard you worked on that," “Your math work is written very neatly; you can easily check your work," “What do you think of your work?” etc.)

✔️ Direct the student to the appropriate activity

✔️ Put away one activity before starting another

✔️ Use careful language at all times and expect careful language from their children (If you have the opportunity to catch our 6 Magic Phrases to Transform Your Homeschool workshop at a homeschool event, you will love diving deeper into this topic.)

✔️ Use respectful language at all times (“You may put away your work now,” instead of “You have to put away your work now.”)

✔️ Maintain a sense of humor and perspective

✔️ Maintain an atmosphere of enthusiasm and purpose

✔️ Raise their expectations (of both child and parent!)

✔️ Expect a child to do his or her very best

✔️ Take a break when the child gets tired, hungry, or frustrated

✔️ Move on when a concept is understood; doing every practice exercise is not required

✔️ Give choices (children appreciate having some appropriate degree of control over their lives)


Practices that are worthwhile to avoid, include:


🚫 Pointing at the child

🚫 Raising one’s voice for anything other than physical safety reasons

🚫 Allowing two activities to occur simultaneously

🚫 Transferring or projecting one’s own fear of mathematics or other subjects to the child

🚫 Allowing a child’s frustration to build

🚫 Using phrases such as “you must,” “you have to,” or “you should"

🚫 Comparing your child’s progress with another

🚫 Threaten consequences not associated with inappropriate behavior


When the going gets tough, an effective tool is to “exit” the current activity. For example, if you see that your child’s frustration is building, “I see that you are having difficulty with this work; would you like to put this away for now and try something else?” Or, “Let us move on to the next activity, it will be more fun for you.” The “exit” approach recognizes that children have short attention spans and gives them a chance to recover, ultimately accelerating development of concentration, listening, and communication skills. An activity can always be revisited another day. That’s one of the many joys of homeschooling!


Would you like more homeschool help? The FREE ShillerLearning Homeschool Parent Planner has additional tips and beautiful printable planner pages. Sign up below for the 200+ page ShillerLearning Homeschool Freebie Bundle with coordinating parent and student planners, plus math and language arts activities for preschool through middle school.


ShillerLearning curricula is based on a respectful relationship between parent and child. Parents will achieve the best results when speaking to their child the way they would like their child to speak with them: with patience, respect, and love.


A parent’s thoughtful involvement is required. Fortunately, through scripted lesson books and ongoing parent support, ShillerLearning provides everything a parent needs to succeed in this endeavor.


Larry Shiller

Larry Shiller is President of ShillerLearning, whose mission is to help every student fulfill their potential. 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 US 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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Homeschooling the Child You Have: 3 Pitfalls You Must Avoid to Have a Healthy and Happy Homeschool

As a new parent holding my tiny, perfect, newborn baby I had visions of who this little person would one day be. With parenting aspirations to rival the rich and famous, I imagined this little person growing into greatness.

I think most parents have hopes and dreams for each of their children. We imagine them succeeding. We hope to see them sailing through life with less difficulty than we may have experienced and whether we mean to or not we envision what raising these little people should look like, often picturing tiny versions of ourselves gracing their presence into our families.

Whether you always planned to homeschool or it is something new for your family, there are certain expectations that most parents have about homeschooling. Most of us envision happy mornings, and maybe afternoons as well, gathered around the table reading or playing games together. We imagine children happily carting their books or “school work” to their neat little desks and humming quietly while they complete the day’s tasks. Maybe we picture little junior reciting Shakespeare while creating a watercolor masterpiece to rival Monet. Or if math is our thing, we may hope to see little miss diligently writing code and creating her own video games.

While these visions all have the possibility of reality some of the time, homeschooling is millions of moments which make up the total collection of each child’s education. There will be days you feel like quitting and days that you just know you are the best homeschool parent ever!

3 Pitfalls You Must Avoid to Have a Healthy and Happy Homeschool

Avoid these 3 traps that will destroy the joy of homeschooling:



The pitfalls of comparison have never been as dangerous as they are in this digital age. Everyone knows that social media posts reflect at best the good moments in one's life and at worst completely faked or staged experiences. When we spend time coveting the stories we see reflected on someone else’s Facebook or even those accomplishments our friends brag about in an effort to help themselves feel better about their own homeschooling experience, we begin to feel dissatisfied with ourselves and the children we have been blessed with.

Comparison makes us look at our kids as less than, and to fall into the trap of trying to shape our child into something they are not and were never meant to be. When we try to squish our child into the mold of another family’s perceived experiences we are no better than the schools that expect every 6-year-old to perform at the same level as their peers. It is imperative that parents remember why they decided to choose home education and resist the monster of comparison that will suck all the joy from an otherwise beautiful homeschool.

Your little one is an individual. Not all 6-year-olds wear size 6 clothing, and not all kids will learn the same things at the same pace or even in the same order. Trusting the innate curiosity of a child to guide their education and forgetting about your friend’s kid who (supposedly) plays Chopin and performs calculus in his head despite being only 8-years-old, is one of the most important pieces of homeschooling advice I can offer to you!



Okay, we all have expectations. I am not suggesting that you cannot have goals or ideas or standards, but making these the foundation of one's homeschool instead of just a useful tool is a recipe for disaster. In any relationship, when one person is too firmly attached to their own expectations of how things should be, the other person is likely to suffer. As a parent, when my intentions become of greater importance than the child themself, I have created an unreasonable environment which will set the child up to feel like a constant failure. When my standards are left unmet day after day, my child will grow up with the sense that they never measure up and are just not good enough.

Having a plan or a list of goals is worthwhile as long as it is held loosely. And when a parent sighs, and berates themself for not completing the todo list, AGAIN, the child hears this and internalizes the failure because they really want nothing more than to please their parent.

I find that a rotating list is very helpful in keeping my expectations in a healthy balance. By having a predictable order of subjects or tasks that we simply keep cycling through, each day feels like accomplishment and can be considered a success whether we completed 2 items or 7.

Here is a quick example of a rotating list:

  • Math
  • Music
  • Reading
  • Science experiment
  • Spelling
  • Language arts
  • Fun art project
  • History story


On Monday we might do math and music, then on Tuesday we simply pick up with reading, science, spelling and language arts. Wednesday the day begins with a fun art project followed by history and math. And so on. By having an open cycling list there is no expectation that the whole list be completed every day and everyone is much happier and feels good about the things completed that day.



This one is the most important. Every single day we need to remember to be thankful for the child we are blessed with NOT the child we imagined we might have. NOT the child we sometimes silently wish we had and NOT the child our friend has. The child we have is the one we need to love and teach each day. This is true for everyone, and is, I think, especially important for parents of kids with special needs. The quicker we accept and embrace the beauty of who our child is and release our disappointment in who they are not, the sooner they will be able to truly grow and thrive as exactly who they were meant to be. And amazingly, so will we.

Your child with his strong personality or his introverted shyness, or her dyslexia or need for her sandwiches to be cut a certain way are all examples of the things that make him or her uniquely themselves. The quirks, the struggles, the joys and all the intricacies are yours not to endure but to embrace and celebrate and love. Because if you can show your child that you love every part of them, they will grow up learning to love themselves and what better foundation can you provide for them to grow than this?

Here is a very personal account of coming to terms with disappointment : The Loss Of A Dream.

If you want to help your child grow into their best potential then you must STOP comparing them to anyone else, ADJUST your expectations to fit their abilities and RELEASE your disappointment that they are not what you expected. Only then will they have the chance to become their best self.

This is why you decided to homeschool in the first place. To help your unique child discover their individual strengths and flourish and grow in a safe environment rich in encouragement and full of the joy of discovery and learning. It is for this purpose that you are here with this exact child. Courage to you dear parent on the days you feel this and on the days you do not. Your role is the most important in the entire world to your sweet child.


For further encouragement on celebrating the child you are blessed with, read “How Much Control Do You Really Have Over How Your Child Turns Out?"

Catherine Donnelly

Catherine began her formal education journey in Montessori preschool. Following a short stint in regular school she was homeschooled from 5th grade on. After being her college's first homeschooled graduate, she and her husband decided upon home education for their five children. 27 years, and many adventures later, she is till homeschooling their youngest 3 children. The foundation of Maria Montessori's principles have been a consistent thread throughout their learning journey and Catherine was delighted to discover Shiller Learning and join forces with them in 2020. In her sparse free moments she can be found reading with her children (or hiding in a corner reading by herself); writing articles for her blog, books or various clients; playing with her children; or dressing up in various time period costumes and traveling to historical sites.

See Inside Our Kits

Language Arts Kit A (PreK/K-G1)

Language Arts Kit B (G1-G4)

Homeschooling With Skeptical Family Members At Thanksgiving

How to Approach Homeschooling with Skeptical Family Members Around the Thanksgiving Table


Choosing at home education is not a decision taken lightly. We put in hours of research to find the best homeschool curriculum. Every day we give of our time to ensure our children are learning. It’s a journey of discovery, learning, and growth - for us and our children!

It is also a journey many outside the home education community do not understand. Some people may criticize or make false assumptions about our choice and what we actually do. For home educators, the holidays - especially Thanksgiving - can turn into an emotional day of inquisition from skeptical family members. We are here to provide you with a few tools today to help guide your conversations.

How to Approach Homeschooling with Skeptical Family Members Around the Thanksgiving Table


  • Common Scenario #1- Skeptical family member quizzes homeschool students on facts. A family member may make comments about what the student “should” know.


Advice: It may be a good idea to have a conversation with your children before your family gathering. Equip them with responses or prepare them that it may happen. Make sure they know they may share any information they like but are not obligated to do so. This will, of course, depend on the age of the student and how comfortable they feel talking with adults.


One option might be: “I’m not sure about the answer to that but let me tell you about…” They can then share something interesting they’ve been learning. Or they may politely respond with “After we enjoy our meal, I can show you some of what I’ve been working on.” It may also be a conversation a parent needs to intervene in. Respond with a spirit of love remembering home education is a foreign concept for a lot of people. Also, remember children in public schools are used to being quizzed.


Quick Exit: You might respond with, “We don’t typically quiz (name) as part of our schooling so they're a bit unfamiliar with how to respond. (Name) would you like to share something you’ve been learning?” or “Thank you for showing an interest in what we’re studying in school. We’ve recently been learning about… ”


Avoid it all together: Have your students prepare a brief presentation or bring materials or a completed project. Let relatives know ahead of time the students would like to share what they've been learning with interested family members. If you feel you need to, let them know your preference is for the children to not be “quizzed” about school. This way they can show curious relatives what homeschooling is like. It also gives students the chance to take pride in showing off their work. Grandparents especially love to see what kids have been working on.


  • Common Scenario #2: Relative says something like “I don’t know HOW you do it. I could never homeschool my children.

Advice: First of all, remember your children are listening to hear how you respond. Yes, there are days we consider dropping them off at the nearest public school. Yes, there are days we feel ill-equipped and are floundering. Yes, there are days we feel like we can’t do it after all. Our children are listening to how we respond. Respond with words of life, joy, truth, and love. Build up your kids and their hearts. And respond with words that build up the other parents to know they could do it and thrive too!


Quick Exit: “I felt that way too. It’s been a delight.”


Avoid it all together: Share a tidbit from a homeschool group or forum about how you’re comforted with the reminder most homeschool parents jump in without any teaching background. You could also share how much you’ve been learning too as a home educator.


  • Common Scenario #3: Relative asks if you’re afraid home education will destroy their love for learning.

Advice: This tends to be a big one for people. A lot of families choose to homeschool because they worry public school will destroy a love of learning. This is a subject that can lead to an argument about school structure. Tread lightly and share the joy your children find in learning. Describe how their eyes light up when they learn. Share how they work on school work during free time. Tell how much YOU’RE loving it compared to the educational experiences you’ve had before!


Quick Exit: “No.” Plain and simple :)


Avoid it all together: Share how glad you are about the decision to homeschool. Tell details about a moment of particular joy in learning. Share how your child starts school alone. Or how they get excited waiting for you to finish breakfast dishes.

  • Common Scenario #4: The dreaded “socialization” word comes up.

Advice: This is another topic that can turn into an argument. You know your audience best. One approach might be to share fun outings, coops, nature groups, etc you’re involved in. Another approach might be to say you don’t feel like children in school get much time to visit with friends in a relaxed setting. Or there’s always the snarky response of “We socialize dogs, we build children’s relationships.” Buuuuuut that one doesn’t go over in a lot of crowds. Or turn it around and ask “What does socialization mean to you?”

Quick Exit: ”That’s a common stereotype of home education and we’re not concerned about it.”

Avoid it all together: Share about your children’s friends and activities.


  • Common Scenario #5: Teacher becomes defensive that you’ve chosen to reject formal schooling.


Advice: Again, this is another tread lightly and you know your audience scenario. Teachers, and parents who adore their public school, often get defensive. To be honest, when I used to teach I did too. I thought homeschooling was irresponsible. 15 years ago I would have said there was no way I’d ever homeschool. Share your “whys” in a loving way. Give examples of experiences you’ve been able to have that school wouldn’t have allowed.

Quick Exit: If it’s something you truly feel, try a comment like: “You know, I’d be more inclined to send my children to school if more teachers were like you.”

If you think it will escalate into an argument, “I think this may be a topic that’s best we agree to disagree about and enjoy our meal.”

Avoid it all together: If the topic seems to be creeping that way, change the subject. Or comment on how nice it is to have another educator around and ask questions about the classroom, favorite subjects to teach, etc.


  • Common Scenario #6: Other children at the meal think homeschooled kids are “weird.”


Advice: Depending on the age and self-esteem of your children- this may be one to prepare them for. Not only on Thanksgiving but as a homeschooler. This seems to be a common misconception. Most likely, this would come up while you are out of earshot and shared to you by a tearful child later on. You could talk to your student about stereotypes and how they’re not true. And tell your child all the things you love about them. I think this stereotype may come because homeschoolers are viewed as not culturally aware. (I could write an entire blog about this!)

Quick Exit: If you overhear children calling names, intervene as necessary.

Avoid it all together: Chat with other parents before the meal. Ask them to tell their children what homeschooling is. It could be helpful for you and the parents to find common interests between children for them to know about ahead of time. If they can bond over a shared interest, your homeschoolers is “relevant." Plus kids always get along better with a shared interest.


Common Scenario #7: Concern is raised that kids aren’t getting “enough” learning.

Advice: Students in public school are gone 7-9 hours per day. Teacher spend 25%-50% of their day doing behavior management, managing transitions, and other tasks that aren’t necessarily teaching. You could throw out stats or respond a bit about your educational philosophy.

Quick Exit: “We’re all happy with our schedule and the kids are thriving!”

Avoid it all together: Stay away from information about your daily schedule.


Common Scenario #8: Guests assume you have to follow traditional stereotypes such as you grow your own food, grind your own flower, raise chickens, have a big family, etc. to homeschool.

Advice: If I had a dollar for every confused person when they found out I homeschool an only child. The stereotypes about a homeschool family abound. Share how home education is growing across all family sizes, religions, lifestyles, cultures, etc. Keep it polite and thoughtful. Or turn to humor and make a joke. I also know many of us do fit some portions of the stereotype. If they ask about some way it applies to you, share it or make a joke depending on your personality. :)

Quick Exit: “You know? I have yet to meet a homeschool family who fits the traditional stereotype.”

Avoid it all together: Stereotypes stick and they stick strong. This is one people are likely to at least joke about. Remember it’s not a personal attack or insult. It’s the human mind and societies attempt to classify something they don’t understand. Only by open and honest truth can we break any stereotype.


  • Common Scenario #9: The age-old homeschool question of “How will they succeed in college if they’ve never been in a classroom?”

Advice: This is one every homeschool family has to tackle on their own at some point. If your children are still young, you can say it’s something you’ll consider more when they are older. Or share ways other homeschoolers have approached this such as- sending kids to high school for courses such as chemistry and AP courses, taking classes at the local community college, starting a small business as a teen that does not need a degree or jumping right into college. (Hint- on the last option, most students thrive because they’re used to self-study already!) This would also be a good one to turn back around and ask, “I’m curious what it is about home education that makes you think it would be hard for them.”

Quick Exit: “We’re not worried about it. (Name) has excellent learning skills!)

Avoid it all together: Give your older teen a chance to share how they’ve been preparing for college.


I hope these scenarios have been helpful for you. The Thanksgiving table can, unfortunately, become a place of stress and fights. Remember to keep things in a spirit of love. Also, remember you don’t have to defend yourself to anyone. The choice for home education is what you have decided is best. If the conversation gets heated or you feel uncomfortable, shut it down with that reminder. I hope you won't need any of this advice and you’ll have a fun Thanksgiving meal- but I’m glad to provide it in case you do!


Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Her family resides in an Airstream parked in Washington State and loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces.

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You Are the Parent Your Child Needs

3 Things That Qualify You to Teach Your Child

Who am I to ever think I could educate my own child?” A question asked one way or another by most homeschooling parents at least on occasion, if not weekly (or daily.)


Yet similar to parenting as a whole, it is crucial to remember that YOU are the parent your child was given to. So, on a rough day, how does that knowledge help?


It affords us the reminder to take a deep breath and focus on these 3 truths.


1. No one on this planet loves your child more than you do. There is no well-trained teacher out there, no matter how skilled or dedicated, that cares as much as you about your child and what is best for her. No one will sacrifice like you for her greater good.

2. You know your child better than anyone else does. You have watched him learn to breathe and eat and walk and talk. You know what frustrates him and what causes him to light up. You know how to motivate him and your love and respect are the keys that build his confidence and give him the wings he will need to thrive.

3. You can’t do a perfect job of educating your child! And…. neither can anyone else. Whether your child goes to the best school in the nation or has the brightest and best tutor or enjoys your family’s homeschool, there will be gaps in the education they receive. There is no way to ensure a perfect education. So let go of the idea that you have to do this perfectly and begin to enjoy the journey. It is by introducing your child to the joy of learning that they will develop the foundation to succeed in whatever it is they want to do in life. And no one is better suited to take this journey with your child than you are.

As you teach your child, you will begin to discover his or her strengths and struggles. You will start to figure out what learning styles work best and you will celebrate the wins as they reach each new milestone. Just like watching your child take their first steps you will be there to cheer when they read their first words and figure out the mystery of multiplication. And nothing will motivate them more than your admiration and confidence in their achievements.


No child is born knowing how to walk and talk or read and write. And no parent starts out with all the necessary skills to raise a child to adulthood. Mercifully, parents and children learn and grow together. And this is just as true in the journey of homeschooling. You and your child will learn together what works and what doesn’t. You will get up each day a little wiser and a little more confident. And on the days where everything seems to go wrong, you will chalk it up to growing pains and you will remind yourself yet again that YOU are exactly the parent your child needs.


At ShillerLearning we passionately support parents and children in finding the joy in learning. As a Montessori based program, we cultivate the whole child - teaching and inspiring using all the learning styles. We equip parents by providing beautiful materials, scripted lessons and Montessori resources.


ShillerLearning also has a unique diagnostic testing system which will enable your child to fill in any learning gaps they might have without the frustration and boredom of repeating work they have already mastered.

So sit back, stress less and take time today to enjoy your child. It’s not about benchmarks and passing grade levels. Homeschooling is about learning together and fanning the flames of curiosity and wonder. And YOU are the best one for this job!

Catherine Donnelly

Catherine began her formal education journey in Montessori preschool. Following a short stint in regular school she was homeschooled from 5th grade on. After being her college's first homeschooled graduate, she and her husband decided upon home education for their five children. 27 years, and many adventures later, she is still homeschooling their youngest 3 children. The foundation of Maria Montessori's principles have been a consistent thread throughout their learning journey and Catherine was delighted to discover Shiller Learning and join forces with them in 2020. In her sparse free moments she can be found reading with her children (or hiding in a corner reading by herself); writing articles for her blog, books or various clients; playing with her children; or dressing up in various time period costumes and traveling to historical sites.

See Inside Our Kits

Language Arts Kit A (PreK/K-G1)

Language Arts Kit B (G1-G4)

5 Learning Goals To Set Your Child Up for a Successful Future

5 Learning Goals to Set Your Child Up for a Successful Future

How can one hit a target that doesn’t even exist? Homeschooling without defined goals is like standing in one's backyard with a bow and arrow spinning in circles trying to decide what to shoot at. Or worse yet, letting those arrows fly randomly and hoping for the best.


As fall approaches each year, the panic settles over many homeschool parents and they become glassy eyed from pouring through catalogs and websites of curriculum options. How to choose the best materials for each child can be agonizing.  


As a veteran homeschool mom of 27 years who was also homeschooled as a child, let me ease your burden just a wee bit.  


Before you even start looking at all the options, may I suggest you step back and decide what your big goals are. What are the most important lessons, skills or qualities you’d like to be sure your child leaves your homeschool with when the time comes for them to launch?


The answer to these foundational questions will then guide and narrow the rest of your decision making process. And hopefully significantly reduce your stress levels.


No matter what your plans are, it is very important to note that your homeschool goals do not need to mirror those of any other family or school, public or private. (I am going to share our family’s goals with the hope that these will get you started thinking about your own!)

When I was a new homeschool mama, I would sit for hours, researching and writing lists of all the specific skills I hoped to cover each year with each child. This exercise was fine and it did help steer our choices for the year but after a few years I realized that everything boiled down to a few foundational targets I wanted each child to hit before they “graduated” from my homeschool.


So each year I still make a general list of subjects and skills we will cover but everything always points back to our family’s “Five Learning Goals.”


The Donnelly Family Learning Goals


1. That the child would learn to read well.

2. That the child would learn basic mathematics.

3. That the child would learn to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.

4. That the child would learn how to learn.

5. That the child would cultivate a lifelong love of learning.


(Number 5 is the one that is the absolute most important to me!)


When I sit down one day to write each of them a transcript or a diploma, I will look back at these foundations to our homeschool and judge our mutual success as student and teacher. If these targets were met, I will have confidence that any subject they didn’t completely ace or a skill that wasn’t on our radar can easily be filled in if they find a need for that skill or knowledge in their adult life.  


The ability to read well is the key that unlocks any door.  

A deep love of learning will inspire and drive them to seek the knowledge they need.

An understanding of how to go about learning will steer them to be able to follow their dreams.

The ability to communicate what they have learned will insure their usefulness in whatever professions they pursue.

And mathematics, well we all know that math is used all day every day in one way or another.


May I encourage you to take some time to evaluate what your family’s most important outcomes are for your homeschool and then let everything else be driven by your foundational goals.


Welcome to the beautiful world of homeschooling. It’s hard. It’s wonderful. It’s worth the investment of time and money. You can do this! And here at ShillerLearning we are available to come alongside you in your education journey. Feel welcome to call 888-556-6284 or message/email with your questions. We are passionate not only about helping your kids learn but helping them learn to love learning.


Catherine Donnelly

Catherine began her formal education journey in Montessori preschool. Following a short stint in regular school she was homeschooled from 5th grade on. After being her college's first homeschooled graduate, she and her husband decided upon home education for their five children. 27 years, and many adventures later, she is till homeschooling their youngest 3 children. The foundation of Maria Montessori's principles have been a consistent thread throughout their learning journey and Catherine was delighted to discover Shiller Learning and join forces with them in 2020. In her sparse free moments she can be found reading with her children (or hiding in a corner reading by herself); writing articles for her blog, books or various clients; playing with her children; or dressing up in various time period costumes and traveling to historical sites.

See Inside Our Kits

Language Arts Kit A (PreK/K-G1)

Language Arts Kit B (G1-G4)