Homeschooling in South Africa ~ Homeschooling Styles

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Homeschooling in South Africa ~ Homeschooling Styles

Over the past few months, I’ve had numerous families come to me asking about Homeschooling in South Africa, how we do it and the registration legalities in South Africa surrounding Homeschooling.

There are many different types of homeschooling styles. Through trial and error, we now use the School-at-home style for the older 2, Koko and Fifi. The children, and I, are routine sensitive, so it works for our family. I use the Montessori Style with Pixie, because that’s what works for her.

Finding a schooling style that suits you can be time consuming, but persevere, once you find your “groove,” you’ll know. Each child learns differently and homeschooling allows you to tailor make schooling to suit each child.

The Different Ways To Homeschool

Although every homeschool is unique, certain homeschooling styles and approaches have become very popular. Most homeschoolers do not follow one style or method exactly. Instead, they select the ideas and suggestions that fit their family and eventually end up with a method all their own.

It may take some time to develop your own routine and you may discover that you start out more structured in the beginning and become more flexible and relaxed as time goes on. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to homeschool. Every family is unique, so find the homeschooling method that works best for you and your children.

Some children prefer structure and learn best when they are told what to do, others learn best on their own. Some children do their best work around the kitchen table, and others excel when they are out-of-doors. The goal for the homeschooling parents is to identify how, when and what their child learns best and to adapt their teaching style to their child.

These are the most popular homeschooling styles:
Relaxed/Eclectic Homeschooling
Charlotte Mason
Multiple Intelligences

School-at-Home is the style most often portrayed in the media because it is so easy to understand and can be accompanied by a photo of children studying around the kitchen table. This is also the most expensive method and the style with the highest burnout rate.
Most families who follow the school-at-home approach purchase boxed curriculum that comes with textbooks, study schedules, grades and record keeping. Some families use the school-at-home approach, but make up their own lesson plans and find their own learning materials.
The advantage of this style is that families know exactly what to teach and when to teach it. That can be a comfort when you are just starting out.
The disadvantage is that this method requires much more work on the part of the teacher/parent and the lessons are not as much fun for the children.
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Typical School-At-Home Schedule
8-9:00 a.m. Children change clothes, tidy house and have breakfast.

9-10:00 a.m. Reading (using spelling books, writing assignments, and free reading).

10-10:30 a.m. Math (using a text book and work book).

10:30-11:00 a.m. History on Monday/Wednesday (using a text book), Science on Tuesday (using a text book that includes occasional experiments), and Geography on Thursday (using a work book).

11-12:00 noon Electives (usually a foreign language audio program, an art course, or another elective that was included in the curriculum).

Relaxed/Eclectic Homeschooling
“Relaxed” or “Eclectic” homeschooling is the method used most often by homeschoolers. Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, and taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects.

For the family who practices “relaxed” or eclectic homeschooling, mornings are often used for more formal, “have to” work, and afternoons are used for hobbies and other special projects. There are no specific times set up for each subject, but instead the child is expected to meet certain educational goals.

For help, the eclectic homeschooler may rely on regular classroom standards for their child’s grade level (for example, studying multiplication in the 2nd grade, California missions in the 4th grade, and U.S. history in the 9th grade). They may also use standardized tests to measure their child’s progress.

Typical “Eclectic” Schedule
Reading: Read one chapter a day from a book the child has chosen. The parent will also often read challenging books to the children at night, like Jane Eyre, Phantom of the Opera, The Three Musketeers, and other classic children’s books.

Writing: Eclectic families usually center their writing around journals, essays, letters to friends and the occasional report. Some families also participate in a “young writers” club, available through their support group.

Math: Each child will have the math materials that best suit their learning style. One child may use math software, one child may use math manipulatives like rods, shapes and counters, another child may use a math textbook. The parent then evaluates the child’s retention by periodically making up a sheet of problems that review all the math concepts the student has learned.

Science: The emphasis is on hands-on experiments which the family does at home or through community science classes (like those put on by

History/Geography: The family will use workbooks, software, educational games and historical fiction. Some families also make up time-lines and history notebooks like those used in the Classical and Charlotte Mason approaches.

Special Interests: Afternoons are generally spent doing special projects, pursuing hobbies, and participating in community classes and teams like soccer, gymnastics, Boy Scouts and 4-H.

This Ted Talk video by a 13 year old homeschooler is an excellent example of Unschooling. He calls it “Hackschooling”. Notice how he does not use one single curriculum. Notice how his learning is based on his interests. Notice how his homeschooling takes place at home, at Starbucks, and out in the community.

Unschooling is also known as natural, interest-led, and child-led learning. Unschoolers learn from everyday life experiences and do not use school schedules or formal lessons. Instead, unschooled children follow their interests and learn in much the same way as adults do-by pursuing an interest or curiosity. In the same way that children learn to walk and talk, unschooled children learn their math, science, reading and history. John Holt, school teacher and founder of the unschooling movement, told educators in his book, What Do I Do on Monday,
We can see that there is no difference between living and learning, that living is learning, that it is impossible, and misleading, and harmful to think of them as being separate. We say to children, ‘you come to school to learn.’ We say to each other, (educators) ‘our job in school is to teach children to learn.’ But the children have been learning, all the time, for all of their lives before they met us. What is more, they are very likely to be much better at learning than most of us who plan to teach them something.

Pat Montgomery, homeschooling advisor for over 50 years and founder of Clonlara Private Day School, defined unschooling in a speech she made to parents at a homeschooling conference in August 2001, titled: Unschooling: Catch the Spirit.
I think, first we have to define what unschooling is, because it is different things to different people. For some it is living and learning without any school at all. For others, it means not using any pre-packaged materials. For others, it is letting kids do whatever they want. For me, unschooling is taking responsibility for your own learning and the learning of those around you. It’s focusing on the interests of the child. It’s focusing on your own interests, your own abilities. It’s learning in spurts and it’s goofing off – not necessarily in equal doses. And, all of it, for me, spells freedom. Freedom to learn. Freedom is never given. It is taken.

Unschoolers embrace that freedom and believe strongly that learning happens naturally and effortlessly and they trust in their child’s ability to direct their own learning.

The advantage to unschooling is that unschooled children have the time and research abilities to become experts in their areas of interest.

The disadvantage is that because unschoolers do not follow the typical school schedule, they may not do as well on grade level assessments and may have a difficult time if they re-enter the school system.

For help, unschoolers turn to other homeschoolers and to the community. They set up classes and clubs together. They trade private lessons with other homeschoolers. They do not take tests and do not teach to state-mandated standards or schedules.

Typical Unschooling Schedule
Every unschooler’s schedule is different and will follow the interests of the child for that day.

Mornings: Children wake up when they are rested and decide for themselves what they would like to do that day. Some unschooling parents give their children a list of chores to do and suggestions for different activities for the day. Many unschooled children establish goals for themselves and work with their parents to set up a schedule that will help them achieve that goal.

Each day will be different. One day, the child may be hungry to learn new spelling words, so they will do spelling first thing in the morning. On another day, the child may be excited to set up a special science experiment and may run to the kitchen first thing to begin their project. Unschooling parents have a tendency to leave educational materials out for their children to “discover”– they may leave the microscope out on the kitchen table, or a new book on the coffee table, or a new cookbook in the kitchen. They direct their children’s learning by stimulating the child’s interest in a particular project or subject.

Afternoons: Many unschoolers spend their afternoons out in the community; volunteering at the library, working at a part-time job, or taking private lessons. Unschoolers have a tendency to pursue their interests passionately and in-depth for a time and then move on to their next interest. They also have a tendency to stay up late, engrossed in a good book.

The “Classical”approach has existed since the Middle Ages and has produced some of the greatest minds in history. The goal of the classical approach is to teach people how to learn for themselves. The five tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are Reason, Record, Research, Relate and Rhetoric. Younger children begin with the preparing stage, where they learn the three R’s. The grammar stage is next, which emphasizes compositions and collections, and then the dialectic stage, where serious reading, study and research take place.

All the tools come together in the Rhetoric stage where communication is the primary focus. For help, homeschoolers following the classical style will read books about this method, find Web sites about classical homeschooling, and possibly join a classical homeschooling support group.

Typical “Classical” Homeschooling Schedule (For children under age 10)
5-6:30 a.m. Parents rise, children rise, showers, dressing, early morning chores.

7:00 a.m. Breakfast, morning family meeting or worship.

8:00 a.m. Daily chores from a pre-determined list.

8:30-9:30 a.m. General lessons where children:
1) recite memory work
2) practice reading
3) practice oral narration

9:30-10:15 a.m. Mother reads aloud to all the children (child’s choice)

10:15-11:30 a.m.
1) phonics instruction
2) copy work (the student will copy verbatim a written piece, like the Constitution, that is at their level).
3) history notebook and time-line (For the time-line the children keep a running time-line where they can note names of people and events that they are currently studying. The history notebook is laid out by date and children add information from their copy work, photos from their field trip to the Civil War re-enactment, or their entry into the National History Day Competition (

11:30 a.m. Prepare lunch and straighten house.

12:00 noon Lunch and mid-day chores.

1:00 p.m. Naps and quiet time.

2-2:45 p.m. Mother reads aloud (Children may do arts & crafts at the same time). Children finish up their oral narrations.

2:45-4:30 p.m. Finish up academic work from the morning, play time, walks, field trips, library, and volunteering.

4:40-5:00 p.m. Prepare supper, straighten house.

5:00 p.m. Supper and evening chores.

6:30 p.m. Evening family worship (optional).

7-7:45 p.m. Father reads aloud to the family.

7:45-8:30 Family activities (like games).

8:30-9:00 p.m. Prepare for bed.

9:00 p.m. Bedtime

Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason method has at its core the belief that children are not mere containers waiting to be filled with knowledge, but persons in their own right deserving of respect. According to Charlotte Mason, children should be given time to play, create, and be involved in real-life situations from which they can learn. Students of the Charlotte Mason method take nature walks, visit art museums, and learn geography, history and literature from “living books.” (Books that make these subjects come alive).

For help, homeschoolers using the Charlotte Mason method can gather information from books, web sites and perhaps even create their own Charlotte Mason support group. Students also show what they know, not by taking tests, but via narration and discussion. Popular books on this method include “A Charlotte Mason Education” and “More Charlotte Mason Education,” both by Katherine Levison.

Typical Charlotte Mason Schedule
Homeschoolers using the Charlotte Mason method strive to keep variety in their schedules. They generally do academics in the morning and try to “rest the child’s mind” by switching between easy and challenging tasks and between active and passive tasks. The Charlotte Mason method stresses the importance of spending lots of time outdoors (usually in the afternoon) and students are encouraged to keep a nature journal. They also look for the most interesting learning materials available and avoid anything boring. Fridays are reserved for field trips.

9-9:20 a.m. Math

9:20-9:40 a.m. Handwriting

9:40-10:00 a.m. History

10-11:00 a.m. Read aloud literature

11-12:00 noon Lunch

12:00 noon Drill

12:20-12:40 p.m. Science

12:40-1:00 p.m. Grammar

1-1:20 p.m. Latin or music or art appreciation or poetry or P.E.

1:20-2:00 p.m. Map Work and read aloud work by children

Afternoons are spent outdoors, enjoying nature.

Waldorf method is also used in some homeschools. Waldorf education is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner and stresses the importance of educating the whole childn- body, mind and spirit. In the early grades there is an emphasis on arts and crafts, music and movement, and nature. Older children are taught to develop self-awareness and how to reason things out for themselves. Children in a Waldorf homeschool do not use standard textbooks; instead the children create their own books.

Typical Waldorf Homeschooling Schedule
Rhythm and consistency are very important to Waldorf homeschoolers, so the daily schedule is designed to flow easily and to give the homeschooling parent plenty of time for their many responsibilities. (This is a sample schedule for a younger child.)

Circle: The day starts with a 15 minute circle. (Circle time takes place in a special spot in the house. The family lights a candle and says the morning verse. They then sing a Movement Verse, which usually involves finger play, a Closing Verse or song, and then blow out the candle.)

Main Lesson: The family spends 45 minutes of focused time on reading and writing. (The family obtains these lessons from a Waldorf curriculum supplier).

Free Time: During this time, the parent attends to their normal responsibilities, like household management or perhaps even running a home business, and the child watches and eventually imitates the parent’s actions. In addition, parents provide opportunities for creative play (like puppets, or art, or building projects).

Lunch: Children help with the preparation and clean-up.

Afternoon Lesson: Science is done twice a week and math is done three times a week. Science lessons involve frequent outings. Reading lessons are also done during this time, reading from a Waldorf Reader for approximately 15 minutes a day. This afternoon session lasts approximately one hour.

Free Play: Crafts, imitation activities, and creative play occupy the child until dinner time.

Dinner: Children help with preparation and clean-up.

Bedtime Ritual: This usually takes one hour. The parent either reads aloud or tells a bedtime story.

Montessori materials are also popular in some homeschools. The Montessori method emphasizes “errorless learning” where the children learn at their own pace and in that way develop their full potential. The Montessori homeschool emphasizes beauty and quality and avoids things that are confusing or cluttered. Wooden tools are preferred over plastic tools and learning materials are kept well organized and ready to use. For help, the Montesorri homeschooling family would turn to their library to read books about the Montessori method. They might also contact a Montessori school in their neighborhood for suggestions and guidance.

Typical Montessori Homeschooling Schedule
According to Montessori philosophy, children should be allowed as much unscheduled time as possible in order for them to learn to manage their own time. Children are also encouraged to select their own learning materials and to learn at their own pace, believing that children will be drawn to what they need.

Montessori families often set learning centers in their home, for example:

A “practical life” area, which promotes activities such as pouring, spooning, and food preparation, and includes child-sized buckets, brooms, and mops for cleaning up.

A “sensorial” area, which includes such items as wooden blocks (that teach size comparison), different scents for smelling, and colored tablets for learning about colors.

A math area, which includes hands-on materials like number rods, sand-paper numbers, and colored beads for counting.

A language area, which includes sand-paper numbers, a moveable alphabet, books and phonics materials.

A “cultural” area for history and geography, which includes globes, map puzzles, time-lines, books and pictures about different cultures, and the Montessori “Peace Curriculum” (a course on conflict resolution for children).

A music area, which includes bells, and a variety of rhythm and other instruments.

An art area, which includes drawing materials, prints from a variety of different artists (including the Masters), and craft and sewing supplies.

Multiple Intelligence’s
Multiple Intelligences is an idea developed by Howard Gardner and Harvard University’s “Project Zero.” The belief is that everyone is intelligent in his or her own way and that learning is easiest and most effective when it uses a person’s strengths instead of their weaknesses.

For example, most schools use a linguistic and logical-mathematical approach when teaching, but not everyone learns that way. Some students, the bodily kinesthetic learners for example, learn best by touching and not by listening or reading. For example, an active, hands-on learner, who has a hard time sitting still to read, may prefer to listen to audio versions of classical children’s books, while drawing or building things. Or, you may have a voracious reader who learns best by reading and then writing essays to show what she knows.

Most successful homeschoolers naturally emphasize their children’s strengths and automatically tailor their teaching to match the child’s learning style. Successful homeschoolers also adjust their learning environment and schedule so that it brings out the child’s best. For help, the family using the “multiple intelligences” model would turn to books about learning styles.

A Typical “Multiple Intelligences” Schedule
The goal in “Multiple Intelligences” homeschooling is to adapt scheduling and materials so that they bring out and work with the child’s natural strengths.

Reading: One child may begin reading at age five, another child may not be ready until age seven. One child may learn best by being read to or by listening to audio tapes, another child may carry a book around all day.

Writing: One child may like to write with a pen or pencil, one child may prefer typing their work on a computer, and another child may feel frustrated by the writing process and prefer to give oral reports of what they’ve learned.

Math: Some children learn well from workbooks, other children prefer using hands-on manipulatives like beads or fraction rods. Still others, do math quickly and easily in their head and feel frustrated when forced to answer problems on paper.

Science: Almost all children learn science best by having plenty of hands-on experiences.

History/Geography: Children learn best by “doing,” so families plan activities where the child can experience for themselves the clothing, food, and music of a particular era or culture.

Music/Sports/Arts: Families expose children to a variety of experiences, watch to see which activities spark their children’s passion, and then support their children in that activity.

Source: The Different Ways To Homeschool




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Montessori Madness ~ Montessori Space at Home

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We live in a small town house. Our school area is in our living room and is tiny and as a result, I’ve had to modify our Montessori space quite significantly. We had a little shoe shelf that I converted into a tray shelf for the girls to share. It was too small so I added a small 2 tier wooden shelf on wheels (it used to stand in our bedroom with a TV on it). Fifi’s trays now stand on the shoe shelf and Pixies trays on the wooden shelf underneath our router and my colour printer. I’ve repurposed a large baby blanket to use as a cover when we are done with lessons and to help minimise dust.

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Here are many examples, with links, from other bloggers who have shared their Montessori spaces.

This is my favourite classroom setup, one day I’ll have the space to do something like this for the kids. Homeschool Room Tour Fall 2014 by 1+1+1=1
Not much has changed since our last homeschool room tour here {which also has a video}. But there are a few changes, and I will focus on those in this post! Our Homeschool room has evolved greatly over the years. Here’s a look back, for those of you who like to see how I got to where we are now.

How to Set Up a Montessori Space at Home by Living Montessori Now
Setting up a Montessori space at home is something any parent can do – because it can be designed to fit any home and any family. A Montessori space is especially helpful for toddlers and preschoolers, but it’s helpful at the elementary level as well.

How to Set Up a Montessori Homeschool Classroom by Living Montessori Now
We loved our Montessori homeschool experience! Just adapt your Montessori classroom to your home situation, and have fun following your child!

My Homeschool Classroom by Montessori for Everyone
I thought I’d start by showing you a picture of my living room – should I say, “former” living room! I explained to my husband when we started homeschooling that whatever is important to you is reflected in your house, so if homeschooling was important to us it was okay to devote our living room to it. (We still have a family room for play & TV.) Somehow he understood my rationale.

Montessori Homeschool Setup in a Small Space by Child Led Life
I am excited to be hosting a 5 part series at Trillium Montessori on our Montessori homeschool setup in a small space. We have lived all over the country and creating new Montessori spaces for our children in all types of homes has been a fun adventure for me. I hope you will join us at Trillium Montessori each Monday in the month of September for a tour of our one bedroom apartment setup.

Our homeschool room! by Barefoot in Suburbia
When we built our house earlier this year, we finished the basement, with the intent on using a quarter of the finished basement as a homeschooling room. The space worked out wonderfully and it is exactly what we needed! We can easily fit our three children in there and they work fairly harmonously, and we can likely fit 1-2 guest children as well (we have a few friends that also want to homeschool using Montessori ideas, and so we’d love to have them over to work too!)

A Montessori Homeschool Classroom by Montessori Mischief
Our Montessori home has changed significantly in the past six years. Not only have the children grown older and changed in terms of their needs, we have lived in four different houses! For example, when we lived in Dallas, I had a kitchen with a lot of space. I could fit a toddler table and chair set inside, and I had an extra cabinet just for kid stuff. When we moved, the new kitchen was a mere sliver. The toddler table and play kitchen lived in the dining room instead, and the play kitchen was converted to a cabinet where we kept the actual kid dishes and utensils. Even though it was not ideal, in my mind, it worked! And while having more space is nice, it didn’t define our Montessori practice.

Montessori at Home: 8 Principles to Know by Simple Homeschool
Montessori education is a philosophy and model created by Maria Montessori, the first woman physician in Italy, in the late 1800s. At its core, Montessori education is designed to promote peace and considers the whole child as well as the environment in its approach.



To see more amazing Montessori classrooms and spaces, visit my Pinterest Board below.

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Tots and Me

What’s in the Workbox Wednesday #4 ~ Tot Tray Ideas

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I started tot trays with Koko over 5 years ago when we started homeschooling. He was a tender 27 month old that wanted to get into the homeschooling fun when Noo was in grade 1. Our trays have evolved over the last 5.5 years into what it is today.

In the beginning I found putting the tot trays together challenging. I didn’t know what was supposed to go in them and felt like I wasn’t doing it properly. It took me a while (a year or two) to realise that at such a young age, learning is all about exploration, not sitting and working for set, rigid, hours during the day. After I had relaxed and starting “going with the flow”, so to speak, school time became a lot more enjoyable for the both the tots (Koko and Fifi at that stage) and I. Now that Pixie is a totschooler, I’m much more relaxed and enjoying this phase of learning.

When putting tot trays together, make them activity specific. Here is a great list of activities from Fumbling Through Parenthood:
Squeezing (a sponge, playdough, etc.)
Practical Life skills (folding, sweeping, etc.)
Threading Beads (onto sticks, string, pipecleaners, etc.)
Threading Sticks (straws, or spaghetti into small spaces)
Stacking & Balancing Objects
Using Glue
Using Stickers
Simple Crafts
1 to 1 Correspondence
Other activities to work those hand muscles (clothespins, hole punches, etc.)

Below are some tot tray ideas I’ve collected over the years. You don’t need to purchase expensive toys/resources for them. Making the equipment they will use during the day is almost more fun for you both.

Tot Tray Ideas for Tot School from 1+1+1=1. The Original Totschooler!!!!
“Soon after the creation of Tot School, came the concept of Tot Trays. A simple twist on an old idea with Montessori based roots. A contained work space for tots, to inspire early learning fun. A way for mom to stay organized in her thinking and provide opportunities for early development in fun ways.” ~ Carisa from 1+1+1=1

Shadow Match Learning Mat from My HomeMade Montessori
“I put this learning mat together by tracing around each prop and then the child finds the prop to the shadow match and places it on top. A fun way to teach object placement.” ~ Lisa from My Homemade Montessori

Homemade Toy: Pushing Puff Balls from Fun & Engaging Activities for Toddlers
“It was really easy to make, just cut small holes in the lid of an old butter container. J’s goal is to stuff the puff balls inside the container via the holes. The holes are just smaller than puff balls, requiring J to work a little harder to get all the balls inside. It’s a fine motor activity that I pull out once every couple weeks and J is always very intrigued.” ~ Fun & Engaging Activities for Toddlers

I’ve made this activity for Pixie. To say she loves it is an understatement.

Magnetic foam shape picture from Rockabye Butterfly
“We got these magnetic foam shapes. I made this shape sheet design with markers and then laminated it. Put it on a metal pan and she can match the magnet shapes to make the picture!” ~ Butterfly’s Mommy from Rockabye Butterfly

Simple Play: Pipe Cleaner Game from Dose of Happy
“Porter is 15 months and has enjoyed this game for a little while now. It’s perfect when I need him focused and quiet for a little bit— think church or waiting in the doctor’s office.” ~ Deb from Dose of Happiness

Sticker Matching Activity & Game for Preschoolers from Feels Like Home
“The idea is that the kits are very open-ended to inspire creativity in children and fun parent-child time. My kids have asked to play with these materials almost every day since they arrived a month ago. The designs are cute and inviting, and they are almost all include stickers.” ~ Tara from Feels Like Home

Textured Photo Book for Baby from Teach Me Mommy
“I made a textured photo book from CD cases. Babies love familiar faces, and they love to touch different textures, so they will probably love this book too. The fact that it is made from plastic CD cases, makes it slobber proof too and the photos are protected by sticky paper. The different textured materials will just have to take the punch” ~ Nadia from Teach Me Mommy

Tweezing and Dropper trays from Learn~Play~Imagine


“I set up these trays to give him something educational and fun to do while JZ works. I would give him toys only, but he requests work. Like most younger siblings he is eager to keep up and be just like his big brother.” ~ Allison from Learn~Play~Imagine

Bunny Tails Color Matching from Twodaloo
” I stuck to bunnies to our new magnetic chalkboard wall (post coming soon) with tape and let the twins match away. They like to match the tails and name all the colors and then have the “Scary Fairy” (a.k.a. my hand) swoop down and mix up the tails again” ~ Stephanie from Twodaloo

DIY zipper board for kids from Laughing Kids Learn
“Key learning points achieved with this zipper board are –
Fine motor skills
Sensory awareness
Identifying colours
Discussing length of zips etc” ~ Kate from Laughing Kids Learn

I just love this activity. Its on the top of my “to-do” list!

Shape matching game from Diapers to Diplomas
“I had some leftover velcro and a cardboard box too, so I went to work with my cookie cutters and made this little game for the boys.” ~ Diapers to Diplomas

Paint Chip Pom Pom Match from Childcareland Blog
“Here is a fine motor development activity that uses paint chip samples. I brought my bag of pom poms into the store with me and matched them up to the paint samples.” ~ Shelley from Childcareland Blog

Pipe Cleaner Color Sort from Kitchen Floor Crafts
“I was inspired to use pipe cleaners and spice containers together from a toddler activity post over at Teaching Mama” ~ Kate from Kitchen Floor Crafts

Strengthen Toddler’s Fine Motor Skills & Creativity from Delightful Mom
“This easy-to-create learning activity is great for teaching your toddler color sorting, enhancing their fine motor skills and expanding creativity” ~ Danielle from Delightful Mom

Magnetic Pipe Cleaner Discovery Bottle from Chasing Cheerios
“The girls love moving the pipe cleaner pieces around using their magic magnetic wand!” ~ Melissa from Chasing Cheerios

The tot (and preschool) trays have become a passion for me. My children have all benefited greatly from the freedom they are afforded to work independently during the day while I am busy with one of their siblings.


All workbox posts on Monsters Ed
All Tot Tray posts on Monsters Ed
Sue Patrick’s Workbox System
Workboxes on 1+1+1=1. This is where I got our inspiration back in the day for Noo.
Preschool Work Trays
Tot Tray Ideas for Tot School from 1+1+1=1

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Montessori Madness ~ How do I Montessori at home without breaking the bank?

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How do I Montessori at home without breaking the bank?

This is a question that gets asked many times by “newbies” to the Montessori method. In the beginning I found this question difficult to ask, HOWEVER, in my research over the years, I have found the following:

  • Montessori is a way of life. Read more about Living Montessori here;
  • You don’t need to purchase expensive “Montessori” branded equipment;
  • All you need is a small space to place your trays and activities; and
  • Most of the activities can be made up at home costing almost nothing.

There are many sites, and blogs, that offer free information and resources online that give a wealth of information on following the Montessori Method at home without breaking the bank. I am only going to list 2 for you below. I have already shared a post on making your own Montessori materials by a fellow South African Montessori Mom and a Roundup of DIY Montessori ideas from around the web. Below are two more sites that offer information on how to Montessori at home inexpensively.

How to “Montessori” Without Going Broke (or “The High-Low Montessori Project”) by Montessori Messy1This post is about how to set up your space without going broke and how to know when to buy the “good stuff” and when to get by with substitutes.

How many Montessori materials do you REALLY need in the home? by Confessions of a Montessori Mom Blog
2A Montessori mom recently confessed in my Montessori Facebook group about the constant feeling of needing MORE: more Montessori activities and materials, more quality toys, more art supplies… When do you feel satisfied? When do you have enough!?

I highly recommend that you read these books as you start your Montessori Journey (click on the image to purchase and download the book ~ Affiliate Links):

The montessori method bookThe absorbent mind book




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What’s in the Workbox Wednesday #3 ~ What are Workboxes?

This post may contain affiliate links which help support my family. Thank you for stopping by.


I am often asked, “What are workboxes?” In a nutshell, “Workboxes are a structured system of presenting lessons to children that allows them the independence of self-directed learning with the bonus of clear visual stimuli that encourage self-motivation and allows the teaching parent to step more into a secondary role during the actual learning time.” (Source)

I started using Sue Patrick’s Workbox System 5 years ago with Noo, and we’ll continue to use it with Koko, Fifi and Pixie as it suits us to a tee and works well for us. Our workbox system has evolved over the years, from sorter trays to the drawers we still use for Koko today. The girls still use tot and preschool trays.

The workbox system was developed by Sue Patrick.

Specialized and Structured Teaching
Sue Patrick’s Workbox System

An effective teaching system to reduce your organizational time and increase your child’s self-control, independence and learning.
Specialized for: Autism, ADD ADHD, and
Large Home School Families
This system will complement your existing curriculum!

Sue Patrick’s Workbox System has two very important components.

The first component teaches you how to optimize the benefits of homeschooling. One of the reasons we home school is to provide the best teaching and learning environment for our children. She will show you how to present your child’s work with purpose and fun, and allow you to be more systematic with appropriate materials.

She will explain how to make your current curriculum and work “make sense” to your child. Often a child’s ability to succeed simply depends on having the material presented in smaller pieces that are especially tailored to him. Also, presenting his material throughout the day with variety and enhanced teaching “angles” will make sure he truly learns. While this is great for all children, she can address teaching low functioning children as well as gifted and distractible ones.

The second component is the physical structure of Sue Patrick’s Workbox System which will allow you to teach your child more effectively, and at the same time help you to better organize your school day. Children using this system stay more focused and are more successful in learning and completing their school work independently. With as little as one day’s work in restructuring your classroom, you will provide better organization for you and your child. It will then be easier to set up a school day of curriculum, variety and fun, while steering your child toward independence and greater focus.” Source

There are, literally, hundreds of ways you can implement the Workbox System in your homeschool. Visit my Workbox Pinterest Board below to see some of the different ways Workboxes can be used.




All workbox posts on Monsters Ed
All Tot Tray posts on Monsters Ed
Sue Patrick’s Workbox System
Workboxes on 1+1+1=1. This is where I got our inspiration back in the day for Noo.
Preschool Work Trays
Tot Tray Ideas for Tot School from 1+1+1=1

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Technology Tuesday ~ Zoodles

This post may contain affiliate links which help support my family. Thank you for stopping by.



Zoodles is a great tool to keep your youngsters from accessing applications you don’t want them to go into. I have it installed on both hand held devices and my Computer. The kids love it and know that’s where their games are. All 4 kidlets each have their own user with age appropriate games for each user (you can add additional installed applications to each user). It has worked well for us over the years. I highly recommend it.

The following information has been taken from the Zoodles website

The Zoodles Story

The idea for Zoodles was born while Mark watched his 4-year-old daughter, Abbie, struggle while using the computer. He wondered why kids were constantly trying to adapt to computers rather than having the computers adapt to them. After talking with dozens of other parents, it became clear that they were all equally frustrated with the experiences their children were having online.

While parents universally believed that the computer could help their kids learn, they just didn’t have the time or resources to scour the web and find any of this fun, educational content themselves. Additionally, parents wanted more say over what their children were doing online. Without trusted content, they really didn’t want to open up the whole, sometimes scary, web to their young kids.

Mark decided it was time to build a safe, fun, and educational online experience for kids that also gave parents the information and control they wanted. After discussing the idea with his friend, Rich, they decided to form a company to build Zoodles.

Since then, the team has grown to include incredibly talented engineers, educational experts, and creative designers who understand how to build simple interfaces for kids. The team is excited to be working on a product that can change how children learn while giving parents an active role in the experience. We hope that you enjoy Zoodles as much as we do!

Kid Features:
Zoodles Apps (for every device)
Zoodles has an app available for your Mac, PC, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android. We help them have fun learning while keeping your device safe.

Personalized Play
Every child has their own personal Playground, which they can access just by clicking on their picture.

Child Friendly Interface
Our simple interface makes it easy for kids to play independently. No more URL bars or crazy navigation bars.

Age Appropriate Content
All our content adapts to your child’s age and skill level, so they are always playing and learning at the highest level.

Games (Fun and Educational)
Zoodles has thousands of fun, educational games that are always changing so your child never gets bored.

Videos (Fun and Educational)
Our educational videos cover a wide variety of fun topics, like dinosaurs, counting, geography, and more.

Foster a love of reading in your child by giving them digital storybooks that have been read to them by loved ones.

Art Studio
Kids can create their own unique drawings, without the mess or hassle!

Video Mail
Video messages from family are sent straight to your child’s Playground, a great way to stay in touch!

Parent Features
Parent Dashboard
Visit the Parent Dashboard to learn about your child and customize Zoodles to meet your family’s needs.

Child-Centric Navigation
Focus on one child at a time as you learn about their interests and customize their Playground.

Helpful Insights
See the sites and subjects your child’s been spending time playing and learning in.

Content Ratings + Reviews
Every game has been played through in its entirety by our team of educational experts, and rated on how engaging and educational it is.

Promote Subjects
Promote games teaching the subjects that matter most to your family.

Parent Play-Along mode
For parents that like to play by their child’s side, Parent Play Along mode gives you full access to sites and more freedom to guide your child’s experience

Record Stories
Choose from classic stories and record a reading for your child. Great for distant family members.

Art Gallery
All your child’s drawings are automatically saved to an art gallery where you can share them with friends and family.

Family Connect
We help family members stay in touch through Family Connect, where kids and family members come together!

Set Time Limits
Control how long your kids can play with the Zoodles Play Timer.

Limit Violence
Our comprehensive rating system gives parents superior control over how much violence their children are exposed to.

Block Sites and Characters
Remove games from your child’s Playground that annoy you because of a particular site or character.

Add Sites
Add in your family’s favorite sites or services, so everything your child needs is inside Zoodles.





#1 ~ DIY Windmills: Tutorial
#2 ~ K5Learning Review
#3 ~ Time4Learning Review
#4 ~ How is Technology used in our homeschool?
#5 ~ Toddlers and Technology
#6 ~ James Hall Museum of Transport
#& ~ Youtube?

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