7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum

7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum


Choosing homeschool curriculum can feel like a daunting task.  

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

 

1. What is your educational approach and goals?

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

 

2. How much is your budget?

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

 

3. How many children are you teaching?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

6. What is your teaching style?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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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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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.


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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 .

Teaching Kids To Read with the Montessori Method.

Teaching Kids To Read With The Montessori Method


 

Teaching Kids to Read with the Montessori Method

Language development is a paramount component of a Montessori education. The ability to read is an essential skill, one that children absolutely love to learn. The Montessori-based approach to develop reading skills gives children a solid reading foundation and confidence to read and learn on their own.

 

 

Read Out Loud.

Children who are read to often are proven to be more successful readers themselves. Read out loud from infancy. Let your child follow along with you word-by-word if they are interested. If the child is not interested in printed text, don’t force it. Having a relaxing, fun time reading snuggled up with a loved one is an excellent way to build reading skills. Many children enjoy read-alouds well into their teens.  

 


Make the Most of the “Sensitive Period”.

Children age 2 ½- 4 ½ are in what Maria Montessori called a “sensitive period” for learning letters and sounds. Introducing children to these concepts builds a solid foundation on which reading will follow. Following this “sensitive period” some children seem to intuitively grasp reading and take off, while others need more reading instruction and guidance. Both are ok and developmentally appropriate.

 

Use the Three-Period Lesson. This approach is a hallmark of what makes the Montessori method so effective.  
 

1- This is.  

2- Show me.

3- What is?

 

For example:

 

1- This Is. “This is the letter "S" The child sees the painted wood letter "S".

 

2- Show Me. Place several letters in front of the child and say “You may show me the letter ‘s’ “ and allow the child to choose the letter. If they select another letter, do not correct: Simply go back to Period 1: This Is.

 

3- What Is? Point to the letter ‘s’ and ask “What is this called?” If the child answers incorrectly, do not correct: Simply go back to Period 1: This Is.

 

Young children in particular love this approach and may ask to repeat it over and over with the same letter, picture or concept. Repeat the lesson as many times as needed until the child has competence and closure.

Take it Incrementally

 

Reading skills build on each other. Children begin by using letter sounds to make two-letter words, then consonant-vowel-consonant words. Next they match word cards with pictures, and eventually move on to phrases and sentences. Before you know it, the child is on to reading books and is an independent reader!

 

It’s OK to Step Back.

 

Children all have their own development and timeline with reading. Just because another child in your homeschool coop was reading independently at age six doesn’t mean your child will. If a child is not developmentally ready for a lesson, you can skip it and come back to it. Frustrated, crying children can’t learn: Step back and return to it later. Most children are reading by second grade with the Montessori method.  

 

Make Reading Part of Every Subject.

 

Once a child begins reading you can easily incorporate their newfound skills into other subjects: Geography, history, science, and natural history are especially easy topics to incorporate reading skills into. Reading is a skill, a discipline and a gift. Teaching a child to read is well worth the time and effort involved to see their confidence and ability to explore the world grow.  


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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).

10 Winter Books For The Family

10 Winter Books For The Family


 

What could be better than curling up under a warm blanket with one or both of my boys and reading together? Add some hot chocolate, and you have the perfect way to spend time together throughout the holidays and coldest days of winter.

 

In planning for our winter season, I have selected ten books (to cover most of the winter season) to read together with my kids.

 

10 Children’s Books for Cozy Winter Reading

 

1. The Mitten , by Jann Brett – Perfect for my animal loving little guy, this sweet and funny story has beautiful illustrations.


2. Winter of the Ice Wizard (Magic Tree House), by Mary Pope Osborne -  Jack and Annie journey together to a kingdom of ice and snow. An absorbing story that includes solving puzzles and other educationally focused elements.


3. Animals In Winter , by Henrietta Bancroft –This has been a favorite in our home for years (again, animals). This non-fiction addition to our list is informative and engaging with questions to really get kids thinking about how animals survive the harshest of winters.


 

4. Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner –Another delightful nonfiction picture book about tunnels and caves, where many kinds of animals live through the winter, safe and warm, awake and busy, but hidden beneath the snow.


5. The Snowy Day , by Ezra Jack Keats – Caldecott Medal winner and a classic, this is part of our winter tradition each year.


6. Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen – This is my personal favorite on the list. A beautiful story about a girl and her father, out in the snowy woods looking for owls. This one requires a warm fire and lots of snuggles.


7. There Was A Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow!   by Lucille Colandro – This book is just silly and lots of fun.


8. 365 Penguins , by Jean-Luc Fromental – What would happen if you found a penguin on your doorstep every day for a year? Find out in this darling tale. Every time we read it, my son is sure there will be a penguin waiting for him when he opens the front door.


9. Brave Irene ,   by William Steig – Irene agrees to brave the winter elements to deliver a dress for her seamstress mother. A story of bravery and courage.


 

10. The Long Winter , by Laura Ingalls Wilder A favorite of mine as a child, I have added this Laura Ingalls Wilder classic to our list this year. This chapter book is sure to keep us happy and warm on even the dreariest days!


 

It’s going to be a warm and cozy winter here. Wishing you the same as well!

.

..Happy Holidays from ShillerLearning! We hope you enjoy the first of our monthly printable packs. Every month you'll find a brand new FREE Montessori based pack.

We're excited to bring these to you! And don't forget to take photos of your kids having fun with them too! We love seeing your family enjoy Montessori-based fun on our Facebook page.


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Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

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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 .

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.


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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).

Welcome to ShillerMath!

Hi, I'm Larry Shiller, and I'd like to personally welcome you to ShillerMath - and the ShillerMath blog.

From time to time I'll share customer stories, latest thinking, upcoming sales, math learning tips, new product plans, math in the news, and random thoughts.

I'd love to hear from you - it's our customers and prospects and their children that keep us growing and learning.



Larry Shiller