I see it every September. Moms are concerned.
They are just beginning this homeschool journey. It’s exciting! It’s fun!
How many hours a day are we supposed to do?
How am I ever going to get her to ______?
But wait, why won’t he sit and let me read to him?
Is this the right kindergarten curriculum?
Okay Momma, let’s talk about this. Grab yourself a cup of coffee, tea, wine, or whatever your comfort sip of choice is and let’s chat.
You are homeschooling your kindergartener because you want to extend this time with her, right?
You want to nurture her curiosity and creativity and let her “be a kid”. Your son, he’s wiggly and giggly and never. stops. moving. ever. all. day. long. You know that being forced to sit in a chair in a classroom will crush his active spirit.
So you decided to homeschool.
Are you seeing where I’m going with this? Homeschooling is NOT school at home. All of those reasons you’re doing it are the same reasons you need to relax. I’ll try to answer some of your concerns.
What is the right/best/perfect Kindergarten curriculum?
There isn’t one. In fact, kindergarten can easily be done, and very well I might add, with no curriculum at all. None. Nada. Zilch.
Sort of. What is curriculum anyway? Well, mostly it consists of books. Books are freely available at the library. What interests your child? Is it bugs, sunsets, baking, counting? Check out books from the library and read together.
But shouldn’t we be doing worksheets?
Maybe. This entirely depends on your child. I had a kindergarten workbook called Hearts & Hands: Beginner’s Drill in Letters, Numbers, Phonics and Math (<– Still available, recently updated!) that I cut the spine off of, and I put all of the pages in plastic sheet protectors. All of these were put into a 3 ring notebook that my daughter called “my gray book” (it was gray), and whenever I was working with my older kids she would pull it out and “do school too”. She just wrote on the plastic pages with a dry erase marker. I never told her to do it, but I didn’t need to because she loved it.
My next 2 also used this same gray notebook and workbook pages to gain the basics of counting, tracing, lettering, and numbers. I DID ask them to do it but not for long periods of time. Always go with what their attention span allows.
Two wonderful websites for many free (and paid) early learning resources, worksheets and more are Homeschool Creations and Totally Tots. Totally Tots is no longer being added to, but there is a WEALTH of wonderful resources available there!
What about reading?
The best way to make readers is to read to your children. And not just you, either. Most libraries have storytime sessions that anyone can attend. Bring your kids, even your early elementary aged kids, to the library, go to storytime and then let them check out a book afterward. It’s fun for them to be with other kids and to listen to the (often very animated!) readers at the library.
In addition to reading to your child and storytime, there are SO many freely available audio books out there that even if your voice gives out, you should be able to still be able to have them experience a variety of literature. My favorite resource for free audio books is Loyal Books children’s section.
And what if he wants to learn to read? Is he too young?
Heavens, no! I taught one 4-year-old, two 5-year-olds and two 6-year-olds to read. With my first, we started with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. From there, we always used the older version of Spell to Write and Read, but if I had it to do over again I would use All About Reading. It is so well-developed and has everything you could possibly need to teach your child to read.
How many hours a day are sufficient?
Experts say that a child’s attention span is usually close to their age in years. For example, and 2-year old can be expected to attend well sitting quietly listening for about 2 minutes. A 6-year old sits fairly well for around 6 minutes.
The question should really be how long should we spend on __________ activity per day, and again it depends on your child. There are no hard and fast answers because every child is different. Allow for breaks often.
What I’m saying is that it is okay to NOT spend 2, 3, 4 hours a day on school work. Kindergarten is easy and gentle. The same can be said of first grade, scaled up just a bit. We accomplished kindergarten with four different kids each in about an hour and a half a day which included reading time, a little phonics, some math, art or crafts, and of course the gray book (which is handwriting skills) when I was working with other kids.
I think my child is kinesthetic. Should I use something hand’s on?
Of course! And most young kids are kinesthetic learners. Think about it. Crawling is how babies experience their living space and learn by moving through it and touching (and mouthing, ick) everything. Preschoolers and kindergartners are much the same. They want to touch, investigate, and manipulate everything around them. We used a very hand’s on math curriculum called Math U See, which we loved.
But you said I could teach Kindergarten without curriculum…
You can. Count everyday objects. Money, birds, smooth stones or shells or leaves or rubber bands. Get a skip counting songs CD for easy multiplication memorization later on. Read books. Easy books, hard book, nonfiction books with lots of colorful pictures, phonics books, counting book, rhyming books (good ol’ Dr. Suess!)… anything!
Take field trips. Go to the fair, the arboretum, the local pond, a bakery, the fire station, the zoo or aquarium, the children’s museum, science museum, the local historical society… the possibilities are endless. Homeschooling can be done anywhere, and in as many ways as there are numbers of families.
Kindergarten is not something to stress out about. Enjoy it! Watch your kids grow and flourish.