How to Homeschool Your Child for Kindergarten
Today, my five year old officially graduates homeschool kindergarten. It has been such a fun year of teaching him. Kindergarten is one of my favorite grades to homeschool because while the effort is small, the rewards are huge. There is just nothing like seeing your child’s face light up when reading finally “clicks” for the first time!
Homeschooling for the first time can feel overwhelming. There are so many styles and curriculum choices out there, that many parents do not know where to begin. The good news is that homeschooling kindergarten is simple- reading, reading, and more reading. Top it off with a little math, handwriting, and tons of play.
Homeschooling kindergarten does not have to cost a fortune. If you purchase everything I have listed (except for chapter books because those can come from the library), as well as crayons and other supplies, you will spend less than 120.00.
So first things first, let’s keep it simple. Five year olds were not made for sitting at tables doing worksheets all day. “School” is only going to take about thirty minutes a day. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but keep two things in mind- 1)Your child will be learning a lot from you throughout the day. 2)In a formal school setting, very little time is dedicated to the one on one instruction of a child.
Your number one job as a parent of a kindergartener is to teach reading. A child who can read well can learn anything he wants to for the rest of his life. Fluent reading will make every other school subject SO much easier.
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So let’s start with letter sounds. This is a huge cheat, but I use Letter Factory to teach my kids their letters at a very early age. I keep it in my van and play it when we are on a longer trip. Usually by age three or so, my kids know all the letters and the sounds they make with no effort at all on my part.
After your child knows his letters, you will want to begin with daily reading instruction of around 15 minutes a day. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t know his letter sounds perfectly. It will be taught again during reading time.
You will spend more time reading to your child, but 15 minutes a day is all you need for formal instruction. I used The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading with all of my children. I have also read great things about Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Just grab one of these resources and do a lesson a day.
Read to your child as much as he wants. Read picture books, poetry, chapter books. Kids this age love the Magic Treehouse series! Read books to your child that are over his reading level. This will expand his vocabulary and love for reading. Some of our favorites are Chronicles of Narnia, The Boxcar Children, Little House on the Prairie, and Charlotte’s Web.
Whatever you do, DO NOT stop reading to your child when he learns to read. Your child will want you to read to him for many years to come, and there is no greater discouragement to reading solo than the fear of no more story time. Reading to your child will be a great bonding experience, and it is totally free if you use the library.
Next up is math. I use Abeka math with my kindergarteners. It is fast and easy, and they tend to understand it with no problems. We do one math worksheet a day. I don’t purchase counters. If we need to count or have a visual aid for addition and subtraction, we use toys, food, or whatever is lying around.
I purchase a Judy Clock for learning about time. I keep it by my stove and a couple of times a day, I have my child match the Judy Clock to the time on the stove. I also buy them an inexpensive watch to wear for learning time. This is all very organic. If my child says, “Is it snack time?”, I will say, “Snack time is at three, what time is it?”
I read an article recently that said public schools are taking away analog clocks because most children only see digital clocks throughout their day. I think it is important to learn both. I start using the Judy Clock and watch after Abeka has introduced time.
I also have Sum Swamp, which my children love to play. It is great for teaching your child addition and subtraction in a fun way. They don’t even realize they are learning!
I taught my current kindergartener cursive for his handwriting. There are many benefits to teaching cursive first, which include: it doesn’t have to be unlearned later, cursive reinforces left to right reading and flow, it is easier for young children to learn, reversals and inversions are eliminated, and it teaches words as a cohesive unit.
I taught my oldest two print first, and the transition to cursive in third grade was much more difficult. If I could go back in time, I would have started with cursive for them too.
What about printing? Surprisingly, my kindergartener picked up printing as well from reading in print. We will have to polish up his technique, but he can write in both print and cursive even though I only taught him cursive.
We use abeka for our cursive curriculum, but Handwriting Without Tears makes really great curriculum for kids who have a tough time with fine motor skills. We do one cursive sheet each day, and we only do one side. I do not believe in exhausting little fingers and attention spans by writing a full front and back page of handwriting.
Last up is play. Play is so very important at this age. Let your child play outside as much as possible. Go on nature walks and observe. Let your child lead you in learning by asking you questions along the way. Let him make messes, get dirty, and explore using his entire body.
Go on field trips and see things! Homeschooling is all about freedom! Your child does not need to be sitting at a desk to learn. Experiencing life is so much more important than reading about it in a social studies book.
Most places will allow your child to see behind the scenes if you just ask. Your child might see how donuts are made at the coffee shop, check out the mailroom at the post office, or stop by a fire station and get a tour. You can visit the animal shelter and walk the dogs, see how paint is mixed at the hardware store, or milk a cow on a farm. My kids recently helped our vet put our rabbit to sleep and then watched the surgery.
Have your child help you cook and clean. Talk about what you are doing while they work along side you. It does make things take longer, but the payoff is huge. You will have a child who is independent, but also loves being with you.
Here is everything we use to homeschool kindergarten. Just click the photo to go to the product.
The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading
Abeka K5 math
So the plan for you homeschooled kindergartener is:
Practice letter sounds and do a 15 minute reading lesson every day.
One side of a cursive sheet daily
Be read to by mom and dad- A LOT
One math worksheet each day
Have child look at the Judy Clock and their watch one or two times a day (I usually start this after Abeka has introduced time).
Play Sum Swap a few times a week.
Play, play, play!
Go places and do fun stuff!
Spend time working with mom and learning life skills.
That’s it! If you have any questions or comments, leave them below. Happy homeschooling!