10 Lessons Homelessness Taught Me About Homeschooling Through Crisis and Transition

10 Lessons Homelessness Taught Me About Homeschooling Through Crisis and Transition


Everyday felt like I was one tantrum away from crying my eyes out for the first few months.

 

We started our school year homeless. A medical condition forced us to leave our comfortable home. We scrambled to find a solution. Our family moved into an Airstream travel trailer and have relocated almost a dozen times in the last year. This was NOT how I expected to start roadschooling with my son.

 

My seven-year-old has needed a lot of parental guidance as we’ve gone through the school year. This experience has connected me with a lot of homeschoolers going through transition or crisis.  

 

One of the blessings of homeschooling, is that when the going gets tough we can stick together as a family and not miss out on school days. However, maintaining a “normal” school experience might be a little more difficult. Having the ability to bond together as a family during the last year has been so meaningful. I hope these tips will help you during transition or crisis.

10 Ways to Keep Homeschooling During Crisis or Transition:

 

  • Keep it Light - If your child is really struggling with a concept, or resistant to learning new things, try to keep it light and fun.

 

  • Kids respond to our stress - Children are little stress meters. They reflect how we’re feeling. Find support for you while trying to support them. Reach out to a Facebook group, homeschool co-op or support group.
  • Use play - Play based learning is great when we’re overwhelmed. It’s nice to relax and just play a bit. A deck or cards or set of dominos lends itself to dozens of math-based games, wooden shapes can be used to create art scenes, and a moveable alphabet can be used to write stories.

 

  • Have resources for on-the-go - During crisis and transition, we often end up spending a lot of time in the car. Check out our list of resources that are print & go ready and great for the car for spontaneous roadschooling.
  • Use play - Play based learning is great when we’re overwhelmed. It’s nice to relax and just play a bit. A deck or cards or set of dominos lends itself to dozens of math-based games, wooden shapes can be used to create art scenes, and a moveable alphabet can be used to write stories.

 

  • Open & Go - Using Shiller’s curriculum has been so nice. No prep work needed on my part, we can just open and go without needing to spend extra time getting ready. This is a godsend on days where we get to a new place and just don’t have time to unpack 1M+ things for school.
  • Try audiobooks - Librivox.org has thousands of free classic books to download, or hop over to the library and grab some audiobooks. It’s extremely relaxing to listen to a book and draw for a bit while learning!

 

  • Embrace nature study - Spending time outdoors is a good way to get some movement, give us time to think and learn something new. You can do nature study when you arrive in a different place or on the road. It requires nothing but our minds (and maybe a notebook and pencil to sketch).

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  • Journal- Journaling helps us process our feelings and is a good way to work on writing skills. Don’t be too meticulous with your student’s grammar and spelling in their journal entries. Let them express themselves.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

 

  • Be grateful for what you’ve got! - If you’re moving, dealing with a natural disaster, or have lost your belongings, homeschooling can seem impossible. However, you can make learning happen with little to no materials. Make math problems with rocks, spell out words with a stick in the dirt, use food to learn adjectives- the options are endless if we take a moment to look at what is available to us. Even traditional Montessori materials can be improvised for little to no money.

 

  • Accept help!- I know, this is hard. Often in crisis and transition, people want to help but they’re not sure how. Find some specific ways for people to help and don’t be afraid to ask.

Schooling during a crisis, transition, or even with limited funds can feel scary and overwhelming. Take it one day at a time, give your family plenty of time to communicate, process the experiences and share. You’ll get through and come out on the other end proud of what you’ve accomplished!

 

What has your experience been like homeschooling during hard times? Do you have any encouragement or feedback to share?  Share in the comments with us and other homeschoolers.


Want more tips and tricks to improve your homeschool? Take the quiz below to find out what kind of learner your child is!

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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 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 >

 

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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 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.


Want more tips and tricks to improve your homeschool? Take the quiz below to find out what kind of learner your child is! Then download our FREE Montessori activity guide customized for their favorite learning style.

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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 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 >

 

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!

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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 >

 

Learn to Identify - and Make the Most of - Six Opportunities in Mistakes

Learn to Identify - and Make the Most of - Six Opportunities in Mistakes.


The ShillerLearning philosophy says that every homeschool math mistake is a learning opportunity because it encourages discussion and improves understanding of concepts and process.

 

Are you getting excited about your child's next mistake?

 

Parents with children that reach their full potential have a clear strategy for dealing with mistakes because they will occur early and often. The language a parent uses in identifying and correcting mistakes has a huge impact on how well or poorly the child will learn and enjoy homeschool math.

 

Education expert Larry Shiller suggests the following approach when a mistake is made:

 

1. Focus on the process, not the person. When they mess up, children, like adults, don't like to hear that they are a lesser person (because they're not); blaming a child for a mistake discourages interest. Try using phrases like, "Does that seem right?" "I might've come up with a different answer. Let's take a look at the steps we are using to solve this problem." "I would've got that answer wrong too! Let's see how we can get to the correct answer and understand why it's correct." Or: "Maybe there's a different approach; let's start from the beginning to get it right."

 

2. Keep a sense of humor. When a child associates math with laughter and warm feelings, it's bound to be a good and lasting one.

 

3. Use the other senses (touch and movement, hearing, sight, smell). Math is best learned when it is concrete before it is abstract. Put the audio CD on and sing and dance along. Use the manipulative index to find an activity that uses a favorite manipulative.

 

4. Be creative . Feel free to extend the activity or game in the lesson - or make up games as you go along should the urge strike. The ShillerMath.com customer downloads page opens a whole new world of arts and crafts that make math fun.

 

5. Mistakes are opportunities to identify holes in the child's knowledge or approach. ShillerLearning recommends employing the Socratic Method of questioning to help the child discover his or her own error. Once the hole is known it is usually easy to "fill." Be sure the reasons for the mistake are well understood before moving on: "This card says three thousands and you have two thousands. How many more thousands do you need to have three thousands? That's right: one more thousand. You may get another thousand."

 

6. Go back to basics. Revisit the Montessori Three Period Lesson of "This is, Show me, What is," which is explained fully in the ShillerMath Parent Guide and lesson books.

 

All this talk on mistakes; what about when the child does something correctly? One word: PRAISE. We will explore praise more in a future blog post. In the meantime, don't miss out on treating a mistake as an opportunity. Keep in mind that these tips work for all areas of learning, not just homeschool math.

 

 


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).

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.


Want to 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).

How the Montessori Three Period Lesson Has Changed Our Homeschool

How the Montessori Three-Period Lesson Has Changed Our Homeschool


 

When my boys were young, they both attended a sweet little Montessori school down the street from our house.

It was wonderful – the attention to individualized learning was amazing to me and my boys flourished in that educational setting. At our first “parent-teacher conference,” their wonderful teacher introduced me to the Montessori concept of a Three-Period Lesson.

I remember thinking, “Wow, that just makes so much sense!” and then promptly forgetting about it when she showed me my son’s handwriting practice.

Four years later I found myself homeschooling those same two boys and found myself struggling with the way traditional curriculum was structured. Page after page, text book after text book, my boys and I plodded through that first year, with only barely satisfactory learning and very little joy.

“I want something closer to what worked so well for them at their Montessori school,” I thought.

Vaguely, I remembered the introduction to the three-period Lesson I had been give so many years before. Was it worth giving it a try at home?

 

What is the Three-Period Lesson?

 

At its most basic, the three-period lesson is simply a lesson in 3 parts. The lesson is designed to move the learner from an introductory level of understanding to mastery of any one concept or object.

 

The three-period lesson includes: Introduction, Association/Recognition, and Recall.

 

Period 1: Introduction (This is…)

 

This is the child’s very first exposure to a new topic being learned. In this period, we are simply providing a name for the concept and allowing the child to explore. This is not the time to explain all the details or expected outcomes. It is just simply naming the item or concept, and allowing your learner to do the rest.

 

For example, I showed my son Africa on the globe last week. Pointing to it, I said, “This is Africa,” and then allowed him to move his fingers over it and say some of the names of countries he saw. When we were finished, I said, “Well, that’s Africa” and we moved on to another lesson.

 

Period 2: Association/Recognition (Show me…)

 

This is the most important (and the most fun!) period of learning. It lasts for as long as it takes for a child to fully grasp new learning. It can extend across weeks and even months, but should never be rushed.

 

The “Show me” period is all about allowing your child to explore and learn as much as possible about the idea or object itself and to confirm that the learner has moved beyond “period one” (is at least comfortable with the name of what is being learned).

 

In our home, this period often includes games, hands-on activities and projects to help my sons gain a deeper understanding of the material. It also allows them to make connections between the new concept and others that have already been mastered.

 

 

Period 3: Recall (What is this…?)

 

This is the first time a learner is asked to name the concept itself. It is only done with the teacher feels confident that the learner will be successful. (Think of it as a comprehension “quiz” to confirm that your child has achieved mastery.)

 

My boys love this part of learning, because it doesn’t feel like a test at all. In fact, they feel like they are the teacher, explaining back to me what they’ve learned!
 

 

The three-period lesson is a natural fit for homeschooling as it is grounded in relationship and child-led learning. I encourage you to give it a try.


Want to See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits?

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade


Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is the creator of Not The Former Things , a blog dedicated to homeschooling children with learning differences and special needs. She loves finding out-of-the-box ways for out-of-the-box learners to thrive. She is the author of two books, Special Education at Home and Everyday Autism. You can follow Shawna and Not The Former Things on Pinterest , Facebook and Instagram .