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!

0 comments

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!

 

And if you’re looking for guidance on preparing for school, check out my Back to School Planning Guide and join the Our Montessori Home Community on Facebook!

0 comments

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

 

0 comments

As I began reading responses to the survey from last week (haven’t taken it? You can take it here. It’s super quick), 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 goals for the next school year
  • prepping materials (Oh! All the cutting and laminating!)
  • supply lists
  • figuring out our scope and sequence

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 24 – 28 – Getting Focused & Getting Started

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

Week 2, July 31 – August 4 – Print! Cut! Laminate!

  • All the Lists!
  • Get Cutting
  • Organize

Week 3, August 7 – 11 – Being Prepared Off the Shelves

  • The Prepared Environment
  • The Prepared Teacher
  • Embracing Freedom with Responsibility

You’ll get a free 5-10 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.

Each week, I’ll post in the Our Montessori Home Facebook Group with the week’s focus and daily a task to work on. Every once and awhile, I’ll jump on to do a Facebook Live to talk about the weekly challenge and answer questions.

We may even celebrate our progress with a few giveaways. 😉

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?

The way to get the Back to School Planning Guide is to subscribe to our newsletter, The Pep Talk.

The guide will go out in the newsletter on Monday, July 24th. Are you ready to start planning?

I hope so. I’m looking forward to it!

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter

to get your guide! 

Click here to join the FB group and stay tuned

for the planning guide coming next week!

0 comments

Montessori Rocks & Minerals ActivitiesIn the winter we studied Rocks & Minerals, (I know…I know…it’s July and I’m just now putting this up here. That’s real life.) it was a fun study to dig into and learn more about geology and rocks and minerals in our area. It’s amazing to think just how old the earth is and how many of our natural materials have been through multiple transformations in process of the rock cycle!Montessori Rocks & Minerals Activities

 

We discovered that South Carolina is known for its blue granite and has a good number of quarries (though many are now closed). The first vertebrate fossils recorded in North America were found in South Carolina. We also discovered that just an hour north of us, America’s first gold rush took place in 1799 at what is now known as the Reed Gold Mine. We took a field trip there with our Wild + Free group and were able to climb 50ft underground and explore the mine! It was pretty neat…and cool. There was about a 20 degree temperature difference!

Studying Rocks & Minerals: Reed Gold MineStudying Rocks & Minerals: Reed Gold Mine

We sorted rocks by type as we learned the difference between igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.

We did lots of sorting and classifying with Montessori Print Shop’s Rocks printables.

Igneous Rocks are formed by the cooling and hardening of molten rock.

Sedimentary Rocks are formed from different sediment of other rocks and/or minerals that have eroded over time.

Metamorphic Rocks are formed from existing rocks by heat, pressure, or chemicals.

Rocks & Minerals Unit StudyMontessori Rocks & Minerals Activities

We also learned the most basic thing, what is a rock? Which led to the question, how is a rock different than a mineral?

A rock is a combination of one or more minerals and may have organic remains, while a mineral is a naturally occurring solid, is not (and has never been) a living organism, has a definite chemical composition, and an ordered atomic arrangement.

Montessori Rocks & Minerals StudyThis might be a good place to jump into matter, atoms, and molecules if the child is interested. It would help to understand the importance and uniqueness of chemical composition the atomic arrangement in minerals.

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.)

So then, how do you tell the difference between a rock and a mineral?

That’s where the Mohs Hardness Scale comes in, which we then had to test ourselves. It was helpful to have our rocks and minerals kit to understand the test. It had all the samples need, except for the diamond (go figure). The kids asked if we could test my engagement ring, to which I said, “Yeah, why not? Follow the child!”

Just kidding. Ring is still in tact.

But really, this kit was so useful in being able to hold and examine the different types of rocks and minerals. The kids could see for themselves the difference between the three types of rocks, as well as the softness of minerals. You could also see identifying markers, for example, how some rocks are in layers or squared. They thought it was neat that you really could write with the graphite!

It also comes with a list of all the rocks and minerals broken down by type and numbered, which is really helpful when the younger siblings decide to dump everything on the floor.

We also did a crystal growing experiment and excavated for rocks.

This kit was given to us as a Christmas gift and the rocks were so small they were hard to find. If I did it again, I’d probably go with National Geographic’s Mega Gemstone Mine.

The crystal growing lab was pretty cool and it took about a week to grow a decent size crystal. We also tried an at home crystal growing experiment with salt water, coarse string, and a paper clip. Barely any crystals grew. After doing a little searching, it looks like we didn’t need the paper clip to weight down our string. We could’ve just left the string longer, because the salt crystals need something coarse to grab onto (hence the string) and the paper clip was too smooth.

 

 

Favorite books from our Rocks & Minerals study:

The Practical Encyclopedia of Rocks & Minerals, John Farndon

Rocks, Gems, & Minerals (A Golden Guide), Paul R. Shaffer

A Rock is Lively, Dianna Hutts Aston

Everybody Needs a Rock, Byrd Baylor

The Big Rock, Bruce Hiscock

If You Find a Rock, Peggy Christian

How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World, Faith McNulty

A Rock Can Be…, Laura Purdie Salas

Nature Anatomy, Julia Rotham

I thought it might be helpful to have a quick, Rocks & Minerals planning guide to print out and store until you’re ready for your own study. It’s a simple list of the lessons and resources listed in this post. You can download the Rocks & Minerals Planning Guide here:

Rocks & Minerals Planning Guide

Montessori Rocks & Minerals Activities

 

 

0 comments
//Track outbounds