Not a few young moms have told me in recent months “I want to homeschool! I want to learn from you!” I generally tell them, “You’ve got time. There’s no rush to make a decision.”

Why? Well, first, I’m definitely not a homeschool apologist and don’t believe it should be a quick decision. Second, I do believe anyone has the capability to homeschool if they want to. But mainly, third, I believe with children four and under, it’s a little early to be considering or making the decision to pursue homeschooling or formal education.

Children don’t need institutionalized education (yes, even home educating can follow there). Children need to be children. To not have to worry about strict schedules, how to stand in line, to be quiet for 4-8 hours a day, to follow a program that doesn’t fit their developmental needs, and on. They don’t need to be trained in their preschool years (pre-school…the years before they go to school) on how to be a student. There are better, more life-giving ways to prepare a child (and parent) for education, whether at home or in a traditional classroom.

If your child isn’t approaching five or six, don’t worry about school.

I mean it. I know everywhere you look you see early childhood activities, programs, curriculum, preschools, and whatnot. Don’t even worry about those. You and your child won’t fall behind if you don’t adhere to the masses that say formal education needs to start at two or three. Don’t let fear or boredom (yours, not theirs. Children are rarely truly bored. And if they are, that’s good for them. It increases their imagination.) steer the decision to pursue early formal education, in the home or elsewhere.

Children don’t need workbooks when they’re still working on their pencil grip and concentration.

(Yes, my beloved Montessorians, even us. I know Primary starts at three, but make your home a home, make learning a natural part of your days and environment. Don’t set up standards and shelf work. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t. Build a lifestyle.)

What should you do instead?

Here’s my not so little list:

Don’t compartmentalize learning.Life is learning. You want your children to love learning and be excited about the world around them? Don’t tell them that learning happens at a certain time of day with a stack of workbooks (PS – No true education ever came through workbooks or worksheets). Learning can happen anywhere and everywhere.

Unschool yourself. Take down the walls twelve years of compulsory education (plus any years of college) taught you learning happens at a desk in silence with one expert telling you what is worthy of knowing. It’ll take time, but you’ll also find you actually like learning. Any homeschool mom will tell you deconstructing what you think learning needs to or shoould look like is one of the hardest parts of homeschooling.

Read: The Brave Learner (Julie Bogart), The Call of the Wild + Free (Ainsely Arment), Free to Learn (Peter Gray), Dumbing Us Downh (John Taylor Gatto, How Children Learn (John Holt))

Reignite your sense of wonder. If you don’t believe there’s opportunities to learn outside of walls and books, then stop right now and take a walk outside. Lay in the grass and observe: the clouds, trees blowing in the breeze, the bugs crawling in the tall blades. If that doesn’t spark wonder in you, then you’re not ready to teach or homeschool. Go and make yourself like a child, find wonder and be in awe.

“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Focus on building the rhythms and routines in your home. Children need structure and that structure will look different family to family, even season to season. But children thrive when they know boundaries and what to expect in their home, especially in the younger years.

Read: Simplicity Parenting (Kim John Payne)

Teach them how to sit in restaurants and coffee shops, how to entertain themselves in respectful ways.

Give them opportunities to be exposed to different cultures, sounds, people, and places. If you struggle with new places, people, experiences, or ideas, then start with yourself. And as you expose yourself and children to different people and places, remember these are real people and cultures rich in history, not object lessons for your own fulfillment.

Let them work alongside you–cooking, cleaning, laundry, list making.

Slow down! Don’t make your child go at your pace every day, all day. Tasks that seem quick and simple to an adult are complicated and stressful to a child. Go at their pace, teach them little by little. Don’t expect them to have the competency of an adult. Slow down.

Talk through tasks and your day. Give a running commentary. It may seem dumb or over the top, but it gives children language and understanding of what’s happening around them. When that becomes a habit, they are better able to join you in the tasks and rhythms of daily living. Which leads to greater freedom and independence.

Teach them independence. Not to be completely independent and free of you. Independence is not to make your life easier, but to give them the skills to live and know their own abilities. Here’s a hallmark Montessori for you: don’t do for the child what the child can do for themselves.

Read: The Montessori Method (Maria Montessori), Montessori: A Modern Approach (Paula Polk Lillard), How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way (Tim Seldin)

Don’t smother your children. They are their own persons, not an extension of you or little pets to be doted on, snuggled/kissed, put on display whenever you feel or are entertained by them. Or as my husband says when he sees this happening, “Dance, monkey! Dance!”

Learn to give clear commands and natural consequences. Give children the words to say when they don’t know them (ie, “Move, Mommy.” “Excuse me, Mommy” or “Me want to!” “You would like to do it?”).

Read: Parenting with Love & Logic (Foster Cline)

Learn to be a guide, not an expert or dictator. Children aren’t little housekeepers, a do over for all you missed in your childhood, replicas of your tastes and interests, or exist to prove to your parents (or anyone else) that you are a good parent, homeschooler, or person. Your job is to fan the flame of learning, to guide your child as they discover themselves, not to tell them who or what they should be.

Read: anything by Maria Montessori

Get outside every single day. Yep, every day you can–sun, rain, snow. Nature is vital to growing children. I’d encourage you to regularly explore more natural landscapes, other than your backyard or park. If you’re local and don’t know where to find nature, I’ve got a growing list.

Read: There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather (Linda McGurk), Last Child Left in the Woods (Richard Louv), How to Raise a Wild Child (Scott Sampson)

Read, read, read, read. Make books a natural part of your life. Keep them in baskets or stacks throughout your home. Visit the library often. Get to know the librarians, pages, and circulation desk attendants. They tend to become a bit more friends. Read aloud every day to your little ones, even if it’s just a book a day. Listen to audiobooks, read poetry (there’s plenty of great ones for young and old). Find your own reading style.

Read: Honey for a Child’s Heart (Gladys Hunt), Read Aloud Revival podcast, What Should I Read Next? podcast

Learn yourself. If there’s anything you take from this list, take this: learn yourself. Instead of worrying what curriculum your 3-year-old needs (they don’t), learn yourself, heal your wounds, get to know your strengths and weaknesses, your interests, where your pride, insecurity, and fear hang out (I don’t know of three areas that’ll affect your mothering more). Or as Cindy Rollins says, peel your dragon skin. Get a head start, because as you continue in mothering–homeschooling or not–they’ll all hit you like a wave sucking the breath out of you. Even with a head start you’ll still get hit, but it won’t come as such a surprise.

Read: Dive into the Enneagram with @yourenneagramcoach & Becoming Us (Beth & Jeff McCord), Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Peter Scazzero), Boundaries for Your Soul (Allison Cook & Kimberly Miller)

Know yourself before God. Make time for the care and feeding of your own soul. Your children are important, yes. It can feel like they run the show (even with the best routines) and often your own spiritual care goes by the wayside. Don’t let it. It may from time to time, but over the years make it a habit to spend time in the Word, to pray, be mentored, study the Bible in community, Be okay with what that looks like changing, because it will…many times over. Realize you are mortal. You are not God, nor in control. Understand control is an illusion. You have limits to wisdom and knowledge and how far you can stretch yourself. Fear God and keep his commands. Learn humility. Learn to love and trust the Lord as you go, not as you sit in silence with your Bible open with a hot cup of coffee and get into “serious study and prayer.” Take down the idol of what you think knowing and walking with God looks like.

Read: Sacred Chaos (Tricia McCary Rhodes), Humble Roots (Hannah Anderson), The True Vine (Andrew Murray) )

Get a hobby. I’m serious. I know you probably think you don’t have the time and it’s impossible to fit anything else in. It is possible. And you should. How to tell if you need one? If your children are the topic of most of your conversations–no matter who you’re around or if your children are present–and thoughts, then you need to discover your own interests.

These children are not your life. They are not part of you. They are not your identity. You are your own person. They are their own persons. You need to know and find what brings you life, delight, joy, and fulfillment apart from your children. One day they will be grown and gone (for perspective, I only have 7 more years before my oldest is out of the house) and you will still be your own person with decades to live. Know yourself apart from being a mother. I repeat, motherhood is not your identity.

And don’t be afraid to take time for yourself–whether it’s shutting the door for 30 minutes, a weekly coffee date with yourself, or an annual solo weekend.

Read: Own Your Life (Sally Clarkson), Life Creative (Wendy Speake & Kelli Stuart)

Don’t fear community. You can’t do it all. Your family is not a self-sustaining unit. You cannot provide everything your child needs for a well-rounded education or life. Be okay with that. You aren’t meant to live in isolation. You need voices to encourage you. Your children need other adults, and even other children, to learn from and hear their perspective. You both need to know that your way of doing things is not the only way of doing things, nor necessarily the right way. You need people in your life to say “You’re worrying too much about this,” “You’re focusing on the wrong thing here,” “They’re going to be okay,” and when you complain about your kids “Yeah, they may struggle there, but look how they’ve grown in x, y, z.”

In essence, parents educate yourself before you throw yourself into home educating. Learn to learn, revel in the wonder of the world, the complexity of science, the perspectives and humanity of history. Reeducate yourself. And as you go, bring your children along for the journey.

If your children are three or younger and you like the idea of homeschooling and what it might offer. Don’t go to curriculum, don’t set a school time, or buy workbooks. Work on the things in this list and I promise you you’ll be better equipped for when or if you decide to homeschool.

And if you don’t? Then you have still built a life of wonder and a love and habits of learning you and your children will carry with you wherever you go.

Understand, these will not build a perfect child, home environment, or parent. These are all tools to shape and mold, to assist and give a foundation. They are not a formula or a promise. Be willing to learn and adapt. Be malleable. Know life comes in cycles and seasons, it is never a straight line to growth.

Please, from my eleven years as a mother and fourteen years as a Montessori educator as well as the countless voices of women who’ve gone before me, learned the hard way, and implored my hard of hearing ears, I beg you:

Build a life, not a school.

Seasoned homeschool moms, what would you add to a young mom who wants to start homeschooling early?


This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of those links, it won’t cost you anything, but OMH will get a small commission and you’ll help support the work here! You can find out more about our Privacy Policy here.

It’s back to school time! Pencils are being sharpened, golden beads counted, and trays arranged on shelves. We’re ready to move forward in the new school year. Or are we? There’s always a hiccup or two in the plan.

We’re heading into our third week of school for the year. Our first day of school ended up not being our first day of school. I had spent the week before prepping, arranging the shelves, and making sure I had all my lesson plans printed and ready on my clipboard. Then I went away for the weekend.

I woke up Monday morning more tired than I predicted with less patience and just not mentally as ready as I thought I would be. The kids were having a rough morning (or at least I thought they were…it was probably just me). They wanted our traditional pancake breakfast. I just wanted coffee.  For our first day of school, things were not turning out quite like I had imagined. I planned so well for this. It was all printed out in coordinated colors!

I could’ve pushed through it, but it wouldn’t have been pleasant and in my head I know I would’ve have seen it as a failure and felt guilty for starting our a new year off with a bad attitude.

So I called for a redo. Even if things didn’t go perfectly, I knew with a little more sleep and a change of attitude Tuesday would be a better day.  So we went to IHOP and ran errands (oh, yes…we were also in need of groceries).

Tuesday, I was ready. And everything was a hundred times better. I made the pancakes, even for Mr. Bunny.

3 Tips for Back to School

1. It is what it is.

Perfection isn’t the goal, nor is it real. There will always be hiccups. There will always be There will always be tired mornings. There will always be mishaps we didn’t plan for–water on the floor, an unexpected clothing battle, misplaced lesson plans.

It may not be every day, but we know from experience something will happen. So what do we do then?

Accept that there are some things in life we can’t change and no matter how well planned we are, we can’t plan for everything. There will be bumps in our homeschool days and family life. It is what it is.

But that doesn’t mean we need to take a defeatist attitude. We’ve had a set-back, so?  Maria Montessori had to dissect cadavers on her own at night,  because society at the time thought it would be immodest for her to dissect cadavers alongside men.

Take a breather and start again. Separate yourself from the situation, even if it’s just a five-minute bathroom break (lock that door!), and ask yourself,

“Does this absolutely need to happen today? In this way? At this time?

What will my children and I gain if we continue with this/these attitudes?

What will we lose if we keep pushing on with these attitudes?

What can I do to change the atmosphere right now?”

Sometimes we need to know when to push through and when we need to put the breaks on the day. The answer will change based on the day, needs, and circumstance.

2.  It’s okay to reevaluate.

Even in the beginning of the year. Maybe you realize you need to change directions. That one of your children needs something other than you planned. Perhaps you’ve over planned and need more margin. Maybe you realize you haven’t given enough room for play or interest-led projects. Change it. Your plans are not set in stone.

You have freedom to change and find what works for you and your family. And if this new thing doesn’t work as you thought, you can change that too. We’re educators and parents, homemakers and culture makers, we’re guides and cultivators. We’re making choices to find what best fits our family’s educational goals, but more than that we’re making decisions to help our children reach their full potential.

It’s going to take time, trial and error, and patience to figure out what that looks like.

We’re not going to know all of what our children need on our first go or even our second or tenth. Parenting and teaching isn’t as linear as we think. We will constantly be adjusting ideas and methods to help our children and ourselves.

(Two out of four looking at the camera…that’s pretty good, right?) 

3. Remember your why.

When you start to feel overwhelmed with your over planning or lack of planning or somewhere in between. When you see everyone else’s “perfect” spaces or a great unit idea and you feel you have to add in one more thing, remember your why. Why are you homeschooling? Why did you choose this method?

But more importantly, what is your goal in the long run? To finish all the language lessons in a year? To get through a certain amount of history? To know the difference between a planet and a dwarf planet?

What’s your ultimate goal and reason for homeschooling? Compare all the new ideas and insecurities to that. Readjust if you need to, but most often we get sidetracked in our vision and purposes when we forget our end goal. We see everything else (lots of great ideas!) and feel like we’ve missed something.

Maybe we have, but more likely we’ve lost sight of our direction in the haze of everyone else. Look up, instead of around and maintain your course.

You’ve got this!


This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of those links, it won’t cost you anything, but OMH will get a small commission and you’ll help support the work here! You can find out more about our Privacy Policy here.
Montessori Homeschool Planner

It’s hard to find a planner that fits the Montessori philosophy and structure.

I remember teachers I worked with adapting traditional lesson plan books to fit their classroom and nothing ever worked great. They got by, but it didn’t really fit their needs.

Even as a homeschooler with as many options and varieties of lesson planners, nothing seemed to work just right. There didn’t seem to be a product that worked well with the Montessori environment. So I began to build my own. Each year I’d tweak this or that, add something new to bring focus or organization to my planning and our homeschool environment.Montessori Lesson Planner

As any prepared environment is always changing to fit the child’s need, so is this homeschool planner.

It is still in the process of becoming.

But I’m excited to finally present it to you! If you’re a Montessori homeschooler, or even a Montessori teacher, and you’ve been looking for a planner to help you prepare lessons, unit studies, shelf work, and give you a way to record observations then this planner for you!Montessori Homeschool & Lesson Planner

It’s filled with useful printables for your school year, such as School Attendance Record and a 12-month calendar for 2017-2018. There’s a few pages of goal planning worksheets to help you think through your goals for the year, as well as student goals and goals for your prepared environment.

You’ll find a reading log, book list, undated weekly lesson planning sheets by subject and blank, and a field trip planner.

There’s a 4-week and 6-week unit planner with a place to record weekly and daily lessons, art activities, book/resource list, and a page to record activities for your shelf.Homeschool Unit Planner

Now this is what has helped me that no other planner I’ve come across has had–pages to record what lessons and activities are rotating on the shelf. There is a page for the activities by subject and then a second page to list the materials for each activity.

This was been so helpful for me when planning what’s going on our shelves. I can see each item I need, which helps me avoid thinking I can use the same material in two separate activities. What’s also great is you can save these for next year, especially for seasonal activities, and then you already have a list of all the lessons and items you need!Montessori Homeschool Lesson Planner

The Montessori Homeschool Planner  has over 60 pages of helpful tools for planning and recording your school year!

It includes:
– A Year at a Glance 2017-2018 Calendar
– School Attendance Record
– Homeschool Goal Planning Worksheets
– Student Goal Planning Worksheets
– Goal Planning Worksheets for the Prepared Environment
– Field Trip Planner & Log
– 4 & 6 Week Unit Planner
– Worksheets for Planning & Organizing Monthly Shelf Work
– Weekly Lesson Planning Pages
– Lesson Planning Pages by Subject
– Weekly Observation Sheets with 4 options
– Reading Log & Book List
– 6 different cover pages to choose from

You can find the Montessori Homeschool Planner

over at my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Download for Facebook - 740 × 400

And if you’re looking for guidance on preparing for school, check out my Back to School Planning Guide!


This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of those links, it won’t cost you anything, but OMH will get a small commission and you’ll help support the work here! You can find out more about our Privacy Policy here.

We all make the decision to homeschool for varying reasons. But have your ever considered creating a vision for your homeschool learning environment? Businesses and organizations create mission statements to declare why they do what they do. Essentially what they are building, their purpose for existing. Even some family’s create their own mission statements.

Vision. Purpose. Mission.

All these get to the heart of knowing why you’re pursuing what you’re pursuing, why you’re doing what you’re doing, why the goals you have matter to you.

How does this translate to Montessori homeschooling?

Homeschooling isn’t just about the school work and checking off skills and subjects. We can have a vision for our children’s education that goes past our scope and sequence. Homeschooling with purpose takes into account what we’re building in our homes and in the hearts and minds of our children. We are tilling the soil and cultivating an environment that will lay the foundation for a lifetime of learning, exploring, and community.

How we teach and what we build in our homes will have lasting effects for years to come.

If we come to our homeschooling without knowing what we’re trying to accomplish we may just do the work or go through the motions. When a tough day or season comes, if we don’t have a solid vision it’d be easy to throw up our hands in frustration and ask, “Why am I doing this? What is even the point?”

Having a vision statement reminds us on those hard days (because they will come) why we chose to homeschool, why we chose this method, and helps look at these hard days knowing they are small in the grand scheme of things. Our vision statement can remind us of our why and help us to refocus.

Sometimes we’ll realize we need to adjust our vision, perhaps shift focus or try something new. But the idea is we school with a purpose.

Take some time to consider, what are you building in your homeschool? What are you creating?

Think about what’s important to your family–what things are important to you? When you look back in twenty years, what do you want to see?

As Lara Casey says, “Cultivate what matters.”

What matters to you?

We don’t have to get in a rut in our homeschooling.

We don’t have to be just like someone else.

We don’t have to meet the ideal of perfection for our method.

What is most important to your family? What do you want to create as you learn and grow together?

Discover that and go do it!

Having a vision for your homeschool can help knowing what you’ll say yes or no to. These are essentially the core values of your family. So when an opportunity comes along or you come across a new great idea, your vision can help you decide if this is something to say yes, no, or not now to.

There’s a lot of great opportunities and ideas, and we can often get caught up in all the good ideas and stretch ourselves too thin. Just because something is good doesn’t mean it’s for us. A vision statement is just a tool to help filter through those things and not overextend ourselves

One thing can be helpful to thinking this through is three words.

What three words would describe your dream homeschool?

Don’t get too caught in appearances. How do you want your days to feel? What do you want your children to remember? How can you homeschool in a way that feeds your mind and spirit?

Use those words as a spring board to forming your own vision.

For me, I want my kids to keep that wide-eyed wonder when they see the world. I want them to enjoy learning, to not only find it useful or necessary because the law says so, but to truly desire to learn…all their life. I want to grow life-long learners. My husband and I love stories, him through history and me through literature. We want our kids to appreciate, love, and tell good stories.

Our Vision

I believe education is for life. I want our homeschool to be an environment that fosters wonder and a joy for learning through stories and nature.


What is yours



This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of those links, it won’t cost you anything, but OMH will get a small commission and you’ll help support the work here! You can find out more about our Privacy Policy here.

The planning guide has been updated for 2019 – 2020 School Year!

Back to Homeschool Planning Guide for 2018-2019

As I began reading responses to the survey from last week, I realized I’m not the only one whose been struggling with the back to school homeschool anxiety.

It got me to thinking, wouldn’t it be nice to be in a community with other homeschooling moms (or dads! or teachers!) who are working through and trying to figure out what they’re doing for this next school year?

And wouldn’t it be nice to have a plan to plan? Something to guide our process, to help us remember all those things that sneak up on us in the second week of school or a month in. Maybe that’s too Type A for you, but hear me out.

What if we got together—virtually, of course, and worked through:

  • our hopes and vision for our homeschool
  • our goals for the next school year
  • year at a glance calendar for 2019-2020
  • prepping materials (Oh! All the cutting and laminating!)
  • supply lists
  • figuring out our scope and sequence
  • making a self-care, mother culture plan

It’s more like a guide to planning your school year. It’s taking those big ideas and lists of details and putting them in order so we can see clearly the path we’re heading.

What do you think?

I’m calling it the Back to School Planning Guide.

Week 1, July 15 – 19 – Getting Focused & Getting Started

  • Practical Goal Setting
  • Mark Your Calendar
  • Rhythms & Routines
  • Scope & Sequence

Week 2, July 22 – 26 – Print! Cut! Laminate! Organize!

  • All the Lists!
  • Get Cutting
  • Organize

Week 3, July 29 – August 2 – Being Prepared Off the Shelves

  • The Prepared Environment
  • The Prepared Teacher
  • Making a Plan for Self-Care

You’ll get a free 40-page planning guide to help you work through practical goal setting for yourself, your children, and learning environment. There will be reflection questions to help you flourish as a homeschooling mama and family, a scope and sequence template, planning pages for study interests, as well as plenty of lists to help you get organized.

If the 40 pages is adding to your anxiety, don’t fret! Read it over and print what will be helpful for you. Maybe that’s the planning charts, lists, and year at a glance calendar. Maybe you really need to dig into brainstorming and figuring out your vision for homeschooling. Do what works for you!

Each week, I’ll do a live story on Instagram with the week’s focus and daily a task to work on. I’ll post our daily tasks and prompts on Instagram  to talk about the planning for the week and try to answer questions.

What I’m really excited about is doing this in community with other homeschooling mama’s and educators. Seeing how others adapt Montessori to their homes and families, as well as what works for them can be a great catalyst in learning what is best for your family.

We’ll work alongside each other offering our own insight, encouragement, and not feel so alone or overwhelmed as we get ready to go back to school.

While this guide is geared toward Montessori homeschooling families, it may also be helpful to Montessori teachers and homeschooling families using other methods. Our goal is to be prepared and ready for the upcoming school year. To know our children, ourselves, and to lay for ourselves a solid foundation for future growth.

Whether you’re feeling

overwhelmed with planning,

ready to go,

or this is your first year and

you need some direction

…this is for you.

Are you in?

Are you ready to start planning?

Click here to download the Back to School Planning Guide! 

I hope so. I’m looking forward to it!

1 comment
//Track outbounds