How We Used Gentle Discipline in our Homeschool
Montessori Math Activities


Terry, Deb, Christina (5), and Will (10) in the Black Hills where did some of our elementary homeschooling, 1995.

Terry, Deb, Christina (5), and Will (10) in the Black Hills where did some of our elementary homeschooling, 1995.

Although my children are grown up now, I love to look back on our years spent homeschooling. And I’m so thankful we homeschooled. Whenever you hear someone say children grow up too fast – they’re absolutely correct! I’m glad homeschooling allowed my husband and me to spend as much time as we did with our children.

I certainly could have been better organized in my homeschool planning and record keeping. Maybe I should have been more structured. But I’m happy to say that my children turned out great, and none of us ever regretted homeschooling. And after homeschooling through high school, at ages 20 and 25 my children, Christina and Will, both have bachelor’s degrees and still have a love of learning.

Here’s how we homeschooled:

Preschool Homeschool

During the preschool years, we used Montessori education, lots of reading aloud, and field trips. We had a separate room for our Montessori classroom. Our classroom actually looked like a small Montessori school because I had the materials, shelves, and furniture from the Montessori school I closed when Will was 3. It certainly wasn’t essential that I had such a complete Montessori homeschool classroom, though.

Elementary Homeschool

Christina (2 1/2) crawling through the KONOS-style model ear she and Will made in our Montessori classroom, 1992.

Christina (2 1/2) crawling through the KONOS-style model ear she and Will made in our Montessori classroom, 1992.

During the elementary years, we used KONOS unit studies for science, social studies, art, music, literature, reading, health and safety, and religious education. We all loved KONOS because it’s multi-level, fun, emphasizes character development, and uses a lot of hands-on discovery learning, compatible with Montessori principles. We also enjoyed using the KONOS timelines and timeline characters, at first on a wall and then in the Book of the Centuries when we moved.

We used some Montessori elementary materials from Montessori Research and Development, but we didn’t have access to all the wonderful inexpensive and free Montessori materials available online today. We still used many of our Montessori hands-on cultural materials for the appropriate KONOS units. Although the materials were used at the preschool level in Montessori, many of the cultural materials are actually appropriate for elementary ages as well. For example, we used our rock-matching cards and classifications-of-animals 3-part cards during our unit on orderliness with its associated studies of rock classification and animal classification.

We had some traditional subjects. KONOS doesn’t cover math, phonics, grammar, or spelling. We used Montessori math, phonics, and grammar in the beginning. Then we used Saxon math all the way through high school.

We used Bob Jones University Press spelling and grammar – in an unstructured way. We had spelling “tests.” In Montessori education, children aren’t graded, and our homeschool didn’t have grades either. We had what we called spelling tests (our only tests other than the state-required standardized tests every other year), but then we just checked and corrected any mistakes without giving a grade. We liked the spelling books for going through spelling in a systematic way along with adding personal spelling words and weekly journal writing.

Homeschool P.E. with Christina (6 1/2), Terry, Deb, and Will (11 1/2) in Vail, Colorado, 1996.

Homeschool P.E. with Christina (6 1/2), Terry, Deb, and Will (11 1/2) in Vail, Colorado, 1996.

We did A LOT of reading. With KONOS, we were able to use library books or books we collected in our home library related to the unit we were studying. And we read numerous fiction books – classics, historical fiction, and just-for-fun fiction. We read a lot of books aloud, regardless of our children’s ages, and Will and Christina read a lot on their own.

We went on lots of field trips. Early on, we did many activities with our local homeschool co-op. We and the other homeschoolers in the group took turns hosting activities at our homes, at a local park, or at a local business. We studied everything from origami to German to horsemanship.

As a family, we went on lots of field trips as well. When Will and Christina were ski racers and then figure skaters, we combined competitions with educational and fun road trips.

High-School Homeschool

We continued to use KONOS in high school as well. During high school, we used KONOS History of the World. By high school, Will and Christina completed most of their subjects independently. We used traditional materials for subjects like biology (except for dissection, which we vegetarians did on the computer).

Christina's first day as a concurrent high school/college student, 2005.

Christina’s first day as a concurrent high school/college student, 2005.

Will completed his high-school subjects at home, graduating at age 17. By the time Christina was in high school, I had learned about concurrent high-school and college courses which allowed high school and college credit at the same time. At age 15, Christina took College Astronomy through a local community college during the fall semester. During the spring semester, she took College Algebra through the local university. She graduated at age 16 from homeschool high school.

Will finished his 1st and 2nd grade work in one year, allowing him to graduate a year early. He became a part-time college student at age 17 (part-time in the beginning because of his skating schedule). Christina started 1st grade a year early and homeschooled year round the last couple of years, allowing her to graduate two years early. Christina became a full-time college student at age 16.

How we homeschooled worked perfectly for our family. Your family’s style of learning at home might be completely different, and that’s totally fine. What type of home learning works best for your family?

I LOVE diversity and the freedom we have as homeschoolers! I’ve added this to the Celebrating Diversity Blog Hop hosted by SisterLisa at Homespun Life and Tiffany at Sweet Phenomena.  🙂


We’re all homeschoolers: This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted byHobo Mama and CodeName: Mama. This month our participants have shared how their children learn at home as a natural part of their day. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- HoboMama and Code Name: MamaVisit HoboMama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Learning Through Play — What better way to learn at home thanthrough play? Dionna at Code Name: Mama lists the many ways children learn through play,whether they know it or not. (@CodeNameMama)
  • LearningWith Savoury Pikelets — Deb at [email protected] breaks down how cookingfacilitates learning. (@ScienceMum)
  • Lessons Learned by Bowling (Yes, Bowling) — What lifelessons can you learn from bowling? Ask Jessica from This is Worthwhile. @tisworthwhile)
  • Life is learning, learning is life. — Kristin, guest posting at JanetFraser — Where birth and feminism intersect, defends the truth that children are hardwired tolearn. (@JoyousLearning)
  • life learning… — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children foundthat structured schooling is about teaching, whereas unschooling is about learning, and herfamily resonated with the latter.
  • Live to Learn Together — RealMommy at True Confessions of aReal Mommy knows that children learn in all different styles, so only one-on-one attention can dothe trick.
  • Natural Parenting and the Working Mom — Jenny fromChronicles of a Nursing Mom shares how natural parenting in the Philippines — and learning athome — includes “yayas” (nannies). (@crazydigger)
  • Not Back toSchool: How We Learn at Home — Denise at This Holistic Life has learned todescribe what unschooling is, rather than what it isn’t.
  • Our Learning Curve — Andrea of Ella-Bean & Co. has a specialbookshelf set up where her daughter can explore the world on her own terms.
  • School at Our House — Where is learning happening at Kellie atOur Mindful Life’s house? It is pouring all over the floor. It is digging down deep in the earth. It iseverywhere!
  • Schooling Three Little Piggies — Despite the mess and thechaos, Melissa at White Noise lets her children into the kitchen.
  • SuperMom versus The Comic Books of Doom! —Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup realized that if “getting the kids to read” was the goal, itdidn’t matter what the kids read. (@mommysoup)
  • The joy of learning at home — Heather at Life, GlutenFree has a daughter who sees magic in the stars and understands the honeybees. (@lifeglutenfree)
  • those who can’t teach — Do you need a superiority complex tohomeschool? Stefanie at Very, Very Fine wonders.
  • Too lazy to unschool? — If unschoolers aren’t lazy, Lauren atHobo Mama wonders if she’s too lazy to live her dream of free-form education. @Hobo_Mama)
  • Unschooling the School of Me — Rachael at The Variegated Lifeconsiders what she’s teaching her son about work as a work-at-home mother — and theextreme work ethic she doesn’t want him to emulate. (@RachaelNevins)
  • What We Do All Day — Alison at BluebirdMama discovered thatit’s easier than she thought it would be to quantify how her child learns all day. @childbearing)
  • Who taught that kid ‘exoskeleton’? — Nervous about how you willfacilitate learning at home? Don’t be – they will absorb things on their own! Joni Rae at Tales of aKitchen Witch Momma shares her story. (@kitchenwitch)


How We Used Gentle Discipline in our Homeschool
Montessori Math Activities
For Small Hands - A Resource for Families
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