Who Was Maria Montessori?

Who Was Maria Montessori?


Born 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy, Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy's first female physican, developed a unique educational approach that for nearly 100 years has been successfully applied to millions of children worldwide, starting with children with learning difficulties and extending today to children of all intellectual and socio-economic levels.

The Montessori method considers children to be intelligent and highly capable of learning when placed in an environment and with materials that provide them with respect and privacy. It includes three key elements:

  • Motor education
  • Sensory education
  • Language


The Montessori - ShillerMath combination helps children to learn math and language arts and to become productive members of society throughout their lives.

For more information on the Montessori approach, you may visit these informative sites:

An excellent book on the Montessori method is Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years by Elizabeth G. Hainstock. This is one of many books written for parents about Montessori that are available online or at your local library or book store.

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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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.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

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 >


Homeschooling an Only Child

Homeschooling an Only Child

Joys, Challenges, Tips, and Stats

He sits next to me wrapped up in his favorite blanket. We laugh as we read our current literature selection, Robin Hood. There is no baby needing a diaper change. No big sister wanting help with her creative writing project. It's just the two of us. The day is ours. My family looks different than most homeschooling families. We have chosen an at-home education for our only child.

It is a unique journey filled with joys and struggles alike. I have the advantage of being an only child myself. I understand what it's like to be the only kid around. Although I went through public school so we're navigating this homeschool journey together. Here is a peek into our journey, stats on only children in the US, and encouragement for other families homeschooling an only.

Homeschooling an Only Child in the United States

Homeschooling is on the rise. The NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) estimates 3.4% of children in the United States are educated at home. This is approximately 770,000 kids. I am actually surprised. I thought it would be higher than this.  


The statistic I was floored by is that 20% of United States families are single-child families. In large cities, only-child families are found in 30%-40% of homes. Seattle happens to have the most number of single-child families at 47%! Parents in a large city are generally LESS likely to homeschool, however.  

The NCES found over 60% of homeschool families have three or more children. Data has not been collected on the number of families homeschooling an only. It's definitely not reflective of the 20% of US families that have one child.  


Over 60% of homeschool families have 3 or more children.  


I know a lot of homeschoolers. Most of my closest friends are homeschool parents. I hardly know any other parents of only children. I have never met another homeschooling parent of an only child in person. I've been able to connect with a few online. I interact with thousands of homeschool families. We are definitely in the minority homeschooling an only.

Unique Joys and Challenges in Homeschooling an Only Child


Yes, homeschooling an only is hard. Homeschooling any family size is going to present its own unique difficulties. It's also full of joy! These are a few of the unique things an only child homeschool family faces:


  • Loneliness- Not only loneliness for the child, for homeschool parent as well. Yes, the phrase "lonely only" can ring true. However, in a culture that's largely big families- it's easy to feel lonely as a mother too. Kids connect a lot easier to one another regardless of family size. I would love to have another mother in my life who is homeschooling an only to be friends with. I have yet to find anyone in my area homeschooling an only. The other only child homeschool moms I've connected with online say the same thing. Plus, our kids get lonely for other kids to play with. I remember that vividly as a child. We also value our friends and the time we get with them because we know how fleeting it can be to have a playmate.


  • Learning becomes a family affair- Homeschooling an only opens up new connection for the entire family. I have the chance to dive in deep to everything I am teaching my son. I get to study everything with him. No getting him started on something while I help a sibling. My entire attention and focus is on whatever he's learning. I am amazed at how much I've already learned and grown. I often tell people that WE are in second grade. My husband loves to come home and hear about what we've been learning together and he loves to help out as he can.  


  • Curriculum is much more expensive- One of the benefits of most curriculum is that you can use them with multiple kids. The price of curriculum goes up a whole lot in your mind when you know you'll only be using it once. Yes, you can sell it after you are done. I find it's a bit more of a mind game when I look at the price tags for something knowing it's only going to be used by one kid. One thing I love about ShillerLearning's materials- the kits last a LONG time instead of one school year.  


  • Energy wanes- Being the sole playmate and the educator is exhausting sometimes. I get worn out pretty fast. My son does too. Kids feed off each other's energy. Without another kid around sometimes we both get tired and cranky.



  • Higher demands- There are much higher demands on both of us than on a larger family. We don't have several kids to split the chores between. We don't have older siblings to help teach concepts I am struggling with. There are no other kids to bounce ideas off of or to provide entertainment. Plus, only children have an extremely high likelihood of putting a ton of pressure on themselves. Knowing this first hand, I try to minimize it as much as I can. It still rears its head pretty often.


  • Deeper bond- Our bond has gotten so much deeper as a homeschool family. I remember as a kid never wanting to leave to go to school. Homeschooling wasn't something I knew about as a kid but I didn't want to go to school. Only child families usually report being more connected to one another and having a stronger relationship. Having the chance to homeschool and learn together has been a beautiful relationship for us. I truly can't wait to see how it changes and grows throughout the years.


  • Not enough time- I joke with people all the time that the only thing I don't like about homeschooling is there's not enough time. The homeschool world is vast. There are great resources out there. Mothers that homeschool large families have the advantage to get to try more materials out. They're able to find what works well for them, and grow in their profession as a home educator. I once read it takes a professional 10-15 years to find their footing in a career. I won't get that long as a homeschool mom. I won't get to read all the books or try all the programs I want. I don't get to go back for a re-do of things from when my son was younger that I loved. I value and cherish each day because of this. It also makes me sad.


Tips for homeschooling an only

Want to make the jump to try homeschooling your only child? Already have an at-home education set up for your child and want tips and encouragement? Here are a few tips:

  • Find a nature group, coop, or regular group for play-dates- You both need it. A once-a-week nature school or art class might be one of the best choices you make for your homeschooled only. It gives you a chance to have some space from one another, gives you a break, and gives your child a consistent group of friends.  


  • Music and art are your friends- Turning on a little classical music and creating an art piece can help diffuse the most tension-filled day.


  • Pick curriculum wisely- Look for materials, such as ShillerLearnings's, that will last several years. For other materials, find a friend with children whose ages are bookends to yours you can borrow from or split the cost with.


  • Love your library- It's the best place to save money and meet other homeschoolers!


  • Have open communication- This is a must among your spouse/partner and your child. Keep the dialogue open about the struggles and joys of your experience.


  • Take a break- Being an only child parent is demanding. Make sure you get a break on a regular basis. Even if it's for an hour alone in your home while your kid goes to a friend's. You've got to take that time or you're going to struggle.


  • Learn together- Find subjects you both are interested in and dive in together. My son and I are studying homeopathy together and it has been incredible.

Model lifelong learning- Give your student the chance for some independent study time. While they're at it, pick up a topic you're interested in as well.  

  • Get help- If you need to get help with cooking, chores, or cleaning to focus on education, that's ok! The demands of educating an only are high and it's ok to get help. It is also ok to get help for subjects that are difficult for you to teach.

  • Connect- Find a way to connect with other only child homeschoolers. The Internet is an amazing tool!

  • Let things go- If you try something in your homeschool that isn't working, let it go. You'll both be miserable trying to force something you both hate.  

  • Have fun!- This is the journey of a lifetime for both of you. It's the only chance you're going to get. Have fun, let the memory of bad days roll away, and enjoy the adventure.


Do we have any other only child homeschool families in our community? Reach out and let us know your tips, challenges, and how we can support you! You can reach me at amanda.osenga@shillermath.com

Make sure to check out our Free Monthly Activity Packs. We design them to be usable by only children through large multi-age families, my son even helps create some of the materials! You'll find a new one every month and they're an excellent way to get free materials for your child to use.

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 >


From Classic School to Homeschool: 8 Tips for New Homeschoolers

From Classic School to Homeschool:

8 Tips for New Homeschoolers

My son spent two years at a lovely Montessori School for Preschool and Kindergarten. Despite a spot-on Montessori curriculum, beautiful Montessori materials and absolutely loving his teachers, it never felt quite *right* for us.   It was a combination of a lot of small things. My family tends to be bad at sticking to a schedule. Even though he just went for afternoons, we were always rushing out the door to get there on time. He was late at least once a week (sorry teachers)! Plus, we missed the time together, the lazy afternoons in the sun together, and I dreaded the carpool line.


Our plan had always been to homeschool, we did a Montessori-based homeschool Preschool for a bit. Then I got sick, we moved to a new town, and decided to try school. We hoped it would help us get to know some people and help my health recover. It never felt like a place we really belonged, despite my background as a teacher and with almost a decade in a Montessori classroom. Other families seemed at home there, I missed my son all afternoon and he was often teary eyed as he headed off to school.


Making the decision to homeschool was an easy choice for us. The transition ended up being much different than I imagined. I figured we’d fall into an easy rhythm, he’d be so pleased to have more time with us and more time at home, and it would be a smooth transition. It ended up being a bit rockier than I anticipated. Fortunately, I had several school-turned-homeschool Mama friends that offered me guidance, advice and support. Hopefully, these tips can help you too.


Tips for Transitioning To Homeschooling:


1. Your child is used to routine.

While your family may not be big on routine, you may imagine flexible & free homeschool days, schools thrive on routine. With that many kids in one space, state standards that need met, specials classes, etc. A schedule is necessary for a school. Your child is used to this and has come to expect a “schedule” for schooling. Younger children and children with special needs are more likely to struggle transitioning away from a structured, scheduled day. Some kids will gobble it up and make the transition just fine. However, don’t be surprised if your student seems to struggle with a lack of structure or even asks for a daily schedule.

2. Kids take direction much differently from Mom than from Teacher.

Most parents have, frustratingly, experienced the phenomenon of their child listening to someone else but not Mom. Using respectful verbiage with your student such as “You may…”, “Come join me…”, and “Let’s work on this together…” can all help this transition.

3. A transition party can help.  

Giving a small transition party, perhaps a simple playdate at a park, with some of your child’s school friends can help. Some families even hold a mini graduation with a certificate signed by the school teacher and parenting signifying the transition.


4. Notify the school early.

This is just a logistical note. Especially if your student is in a school with a waitlist, it’s helpful for them to know as soon as possible that another spot will be opening for next year.


5. Be willing to be flexible!


This is one of the greatest joys of homeschooling. If something isn’t working out for your family, you can change it! If your child misses having lots of kids around, investigate coops. If you’re struggling with a curriculum give something else a try.

6. Communicate throughout the transition.

Check in with your student towards the end of their time in school to see what would help them with their transition. As you begin homeschooling, talk about what’s working, the differences between homeschool and their previous experience, and keep an open dialogue about the transition.

Be prepared for some unexpected emotions- We were surprised by some of the emotions we experienced. It’s a huge transition, which can come with huge feelings from everyone.

Talk about favorite elements from school. - If your child had things at school they really loved, it can be fun to incorporate some of those ideas into your homeschool.


7. Don’t forget your school friends!

Friends your student made can still be lifelong friends. Set up weekend get togethers, offr to help pick up buddies from carpool on occasion. Many children’s sports programs will allow homeschoolers to request to be pared with students they know from school-days on teams.  

8. Enjoy it!!!!


Homeschooling is a fun experience. Enjoy the ride, tackle the bumps as they come and remember that it’s OK if it’s not the best fit for you. Schools will be there if you decide that’s what is best for you family!

An easy way to get started with homeschooling is by easing in over the summer and having fun. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to get our free monthly printable packs. These are a perfect resource to help you ease in this summer!

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 >


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 to be 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’s also a journey many outside the home education community don’t understand. It’s a journey individual sometimes criticize or make assumptions about. For home educators, 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!

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 >


Homeschooling in an Airstream

Take a Peek Inside What It’s Like Homeschooling in an Airstream

“How do you do it?” If I had $1 for every time someone has asked me that in the last year. I’d have an excellent hands-on homeschool math activity! Almost everyone asks a variation of this question when they find out I live in an Airstream that I work and homeschool from.

Truthfully? It’s exactly the same way you do. One day at a time. Is that too simple of an answer, though? Our experience is quite different from others who choose an at home education. Aren’t all experiences different to some extent? My classroom is a lot smaller (and a lot less Instagram ready.)

How I Ended Up Living, and Homeschooling, in an Airstream

Before I tell you about what my days look like, let me tell you a bit about how I ended up here. Like many things, it’s a very long story. I'll provide the short version. It started with having a baby while living in a one-bedroom apartment. We were content with a small space. Eventually, we have to move somewhere bigger. No apartment complexes would lease a one-bedroom to a family of three. As our space grew, so did our stuff. We realized we wanted to downsize, a process that took several years.

In 2013, we ended up living in a tiny rental house. During our time there we started toying with the idea of building a tiny house. We even got on the wait-list for our preferred builder. Most of our free time was devoted to designing tiny house layouts, planning, and researching. It was a year-long wait list so we had A LOT of time before we had to put any money down. During that time we came across information that made us second guess our decision.

Our quest took us, where else, to Craigslist. One night we saw her, our beautiful little Airstream Argosy. We knew right away she had to be ours. Within a couple weeks we owned her and began researching a whole new kind of project. Our Airstream renovation took about a year and we moved in last fall. Currently we are stationary but we plan to be able to travel full-time in the next couple of years.

It has been an adventure for sure. An adventure in personal space, planning, organizing, and much more. It’s especially been an adventure in homeschooling! We can’t have a beautiful Montessori-inspired homeschool room in this tiny little home. I have to exercise a lot of self-control on what I buy. We’re having educational experiences we never could have imagined would come from this way of life.

My school day looks a little different than most


Homeschooling in general is a huge commitment. Trying it in a tiny space has major ups, and downs. For example, we have to “build” our classroom every single day. School happens in the living room. Which also happens to be the dining room. It’s also my office. Oh, and my yoga studio. Don’t forget, it’s also my bedroom. So… as you can see, we have to build and tear down everything. Every day. This adds a bit of time into our homeschool routine.


Everything has to be put away as soon as we’re done. In such a tiny space, it’s easy for things to get messy fast. Plus there’s no space to leave things out! During our school day, we end up spending a lot of time putting away books and materials after lessons are complete.


We don’t have beautiful Montessori shelving. This is something I often long for.   Instead manipulatives are stored in the drawer that is next to my son’s jammies. Items we’re not currently using are stored in upper cabinets. Sometimes I don’t plan right and we have to spend extra time taking everything down to get what we need to finish our lesson. Somedays I love how neat and tidy we keep things. Other days I’m nothing short of annoyed by the extra time this adds to my day.


As much as possible, we have school outside. It’s not uncommon for us to haul everything out to a mat on the grass. One of our goals with living small was to spend more time outside. Our hope was to have a space so small we felt "forced" outside for more space. That has definitely been something we’ve experienced. Even with only three of us, space runs out pretty fast. We end up outdoors or loading up our materials and heading to a local park often.


Frustrations and disagreements are more acutely felt in a tiny space. If a lesson is difficult, or we’re disagreeing, it can get hard. Even though my son has his own room, it feels a lot more intense when that room is 3 feet away instead of on the other side of the house. We generally get along quite well but when we need our space, it can be difficult. Nothing can be left on the “back burner,” so to speak. We’ve also learned techniques for handling frustrations and disappointment.

On the flip side, homeschooling and living in a tiny space has made us so much closer. We have to have good, honest communication.


We have to deal with issues. We are grateful for the chance to snuggle up and read literature. We love laughing together writing silly stories. I know all homeschool Mamas enjoy these sweet moments. Somehow it feels different in a cozy, tiny space. I love the concept of Hygge that’s sweeping the nation. When we’re sitting inside having a great lesson together, I feel like I get the concept. When we were schooling in a more “normal” living space, it didn’t feel as Hygge and special as it does now.

My Encouragement to You


Nearly as often as I have people ask me how I do it, I have people say “I’ve always wanted to try that!” It is a HARD lifestyle, so much harder than we imagined it would be. It’s also so much more rewarding than we thought it would be. We love it and the pros definitely outweigh the cons for us.

It never hurts to give something new a try. Pack up your ShillerLearning materials, print a bunch of FREE printable packs (they hardly take up any space!) rent the house for a bit, and give it a trial run. There’s a whole community of Road Schoolers and tiny living dwellers, waiting to welcome you! Make sure to take advantage of the incredible community out there. It’s full of homeschoolers from all walks of life all over the world.

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 >


Parenting Styles That Use Positive Discipline Aren’t New - Montessori Has Taught This for 110+ Years

Parenting Styles That Use Positive Discipline Aren’t New - Montessori Has Taught This for 110+ Years

A common remark parents make when learning about the Montessori method is the use of positive phrases. Parents often skip over this entirely when they think about correcting poor behavior. Through the implementation of Montessori in a homeschool, or attendance at a Montessori school, parents learn to use these key phrases. With this, our parenting styles can shift overnight with a few key phrases. Maria Montessori believed that children should be respected and talked to with maturity and respect. She had little tolerance for “baby talk,” or for simplifying things too much when speaking with a child. She recognized by using positive phrases, we help to affirm and build up our children’s education, self-esteem and ability to interact in the world.  

Where Our Parenting Styles Begin


As parents, it is easy to fall into a rut with our “catch phrases.” Most parents have phrases they use often that our children have grown accustomed to. These phrases are often phrases Montessori views as “negative phrases.” Negative communication is not something we set out to use, it tends to be a rut we fall into without even realizing it’s snuck in. When we strive to use positive phrasing, we’re looking to use words that are true, brief, clear and inviting.


When we start using words like “May,” “can,” and “let’s,” we reduce power struggles, invite the child to join us and eliminate open-ended choices which can overwhelm a child. Believe it or not, Montessori also discourages the use of phrases such as “Good boy/girl,” “Good job” & “You’re so great.”

How to Discipline a Child Using Positive Phrases


Using “No” is also avoided in most situations in a Montessori environment, reserved mainly for safety issues. For example, if a child wants to help you fix supper but you don’t have a way for them to help (or you don’t want little hands in the way.) Instead of saying “no” try “You may set the table while I cook.” No has inherent negative connotations and remarkable changes in communication can occur when replacing “no” with positive phrases instead.  

Examples of Positive Phrases to Incorporate Into Your Homeschooling


  • “I can see how hard you’re paying attention.” - Try replacing “You’re so smart,” “Don’t ignore me,” and “Why aren’t you listening?” with this phrase instead

  • “I saw how hard you were working.”- This is a great phrase to use instead of “good work/boy/girl/job.” By using this phrase, we show the child we’re proud of their behavior and habits. It helps to instill a deeper work ethic in them and helps them to avoid seeking praise and reinforcements on their actual work.

  • ”Let’s try this…” This is a great phrase to use to redirect a behavior instead of saying “No you can’t do that” For example- let’s say your child is about to pour water out on the table. They’re most likely not looking to create trouble, they just want to play with water. Instead of saying “No, you can’t pour water on the table.” Try “Let’s see what happens if we put the water into this bowl.”

  • Try replacing what we don’t want with what we do want- Instead of “Don’t run inside” try “You may go outside if you’d like to run.” Instead of “We can’t buy that toy today,” try “You may save your money for that toy.’

  • “It’s time to”- Use phrases like “It’s time to eat,” “It’s time to go.” Try to avoid following them up with “ok.” Many parents get in the habit of saying “It’s time to eat, ok?” By using that little “ok” at the end, we confuse our children into thinking they have an option and can say “no.” By keeping it short, sweet & to the point with “It’s time to…” we can avoid fights

  • ”In this home we…” This is a good way to help remind children of family expectations and rules without them feeling like a command. It helps remind the child this is everyone in the family does.

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 >