I remember when I first started homeschooling about 100 years ago. Just kidding, it was only 20 years ago. There are days, however, when it feels like it’s been 100 years! I was absurdly anxious about homeschooling my Kindergartener. Nowadays when I have a new Kindergartener to teach, I don’t even bat an eye, in part because I have done it so many times, but mainly because teaching Kindergarten has become simply a natural progression of our lifestyle of learning at home.
As I recall our early days of homeschooling and the pressure (real or imaginary) that I felt I was receiving from well-meaning family members, I remember those insecurities and wondering whether we had chosen the best option for our kids.
I can clearly say now that I am so glad that we chose to homeschool. Our first Kindergartener is 24 now and thriving! I didn’t need to worry, despite the inevitable ups and downs of homeschooling.
Kindergarten as a Lifestyle of Learning
Most parents enjoy providing stimulating, age-appropriate activities for their children. The only thing that changes once your child enters Kindergarten is that you will become slightly more intentional about teaching the 3 Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic.
If you’re looking for some guidelines for what kids in Kindergarten are learning, here is a list of what your child needs to learn by the end of Kindergarten:
- Follow rules
- Cut along a line with scissors
- Establish left or right-hand dominance
- Understand time concepts like yesterday, today, and tomorrow
- Stand quietly in a line (maybe not so much for homeschoolers!)
- Follow directions agreeably and easily
- Pay attention for 15 to 20 minutes
- Hold a crayon and pencil correctly
- Share materials such as crayons and blocks
- Know the eight basic colors: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, black, white, and pink
- Recognize and write the letters of the alphabet in upper and lowercase forms
- Know the relationship between letters and the sounds they make
- Recognize sight words such as the and read simple sentences
- Spell his first and last name
- Write consonant-vowel-consonant words such as bat and fan
- Retell a story that has been read aloud
- Identify numbers up to 20
- Know that addition is putting things together
- Know that subtraction is taking away from
- Count by ones, fives, and tens to 100
- Know basic shapes such as a square, triangle, rectangle, and circle
- Know her address and phone number
- Understand how people in communities work together.
- Use their five senses to make simple scientific observations.
Many of these things can be taught quite simply with a combination of good quality read alouds and real life experience. Add a reading and math curriculum to help guide you and you’re all set!.
How to Teach Your Kindergartener
General teaching principles:
As you can see from the list above, Kindergarten does not need to be a stressful, hard-core, educational experience for you or your child. Just like other developmental milestones, all kids will master different milestones at different times and that is okay. Remember when you counted the days until your first-born learned to walk? Then with your second and third children, you relaxed more, knowing that they would eventually walk. Relax, have fun, enjoy your kids!
One way to teach your young children to learn and still have fun is to utilize multi-sensory learning. Multi-sensory learning, simply put, is teaching that is done using as many of the five senses as possible. By seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, and yes, tasting while you learn, information is learned much more efficiently. This is not generally the way a traditional schoolroom is structured. The traditional classroom practice of textbooks, workbooks and sitting in desks was created as an organizational system for the many children needing to be taught. It is okay to step away from this, in fact, it is recommended. Multi-sensory learning is way more fun!
Teaching math in the early years is best done using a multi-sensory curriculum such as Math-U-See. This simple, yet effective curriculum uses base-ten manipulatives that your child will use to build most of the concepts taught, followed by saying the concept, followed by writing and coloring the concept or number. It includes a teacher’s DVD that explains how to teach each concept. Young kids have a hard time with the abstract concept of number symbols but when they build math, they understand it. There are oodles of hands-on math resources available to help you make math meaningful for your young children. Use your imagination and turn play time into learning time by counting, adding and subtracting as you play cars, Play-Doh or blocks. Your kids will love you for it!
If you’ve been around the Homeschooling With Dyslexia web site for long, you will know that 7 of my 8 children are dyslexic. Learn more about the early signs of dyslexia here. When our first born was diagnosed with dyslexia some 17 years ago, we were encouraged to wait it out – that he was just a late bloomer. Research has proven that waiting for your delayed reader is NOT the best thing. In fact, early intervention for struggling readers is super important.
Using the Orton-Gillingham Approach is the best method for teaching reading to a dyslexic child and, in fact, will help any child enjoy learning to read. Choose a solid, well- regarded multi-sensory curriculum will help you know what to teach and when. Our hands down favorite reading curriculum is All About Reading.
All About Reading is hands on, simultaneously multisensory introduction into the written word. Every lesson comes with an engaging phonemic awareness activity that is so fun, your kids won’t know they are learning one of the most foundational skills of reading success. Lessons are completely scripted so there is little prep time for mom. The customer service at All About Learning Press is top-notch. Although the program was specifically designed for the homeschooled student that struggles with reading, it can absolutely be used for the child who doesn’t. This program has all of the elements of a research-based reading program. For more information, click the image below.
The main way that I like to teach my younger kids about History is through historical fiction. Kids love to read about Nathaniel Bowditch on the high seas or Thomas Edison’s many attempts at inventing the lightbulb. For a more systematic approach to teaching history, we love the Story of the World series from Susan Wise Bauer. I buy the audio CDs and the Activity books that include tons of fun, hands on activities that relate to the history stories.
Remembering that we are talking about 5 & 6 year olds, I highly encourage you to stay away from any kind of textbook learning. Kids can learn so much about Science through hands on learning. Plant a garden, get a kitten (or an ant farm for the non-animal lovers out there!). Let your kids help in the kitchen (both the cooking and the cleaning).
Lots of kids with dyslexia will struggle big time with the physical act of writing – also known as dysgraphia. Some of my dyslexic kids loved to write and draw while others hated it because it was so hard. Keeping a relaxed attitude and introducing writing in a fun and non-threatening way is the best attitude to take during the early years. Things we have used to ease our kids into handwriting:
- dry erase pens, boards and age-appropriate worksheets slipped into plastic page protectors
- simple workbooks that allow for tracing of letters
- Handwriting Without Tears
What About Socialization?
I really believe that the fear of a lack of socialization in our homeschooled kids stems from a misunderstanding of what a day in the life of a homeschooled child entails. Just because they are not in a classroom does not mean that they are not around people! Dr. Raymond Moore, author of over 60 books and articles on human development, has done extensive research on homeschooling and socialization.
“The idea that children need to be around many other youngsters in order to be ‘socialized is perhaps the most dangerous and extravagant myth in education and child rearing today.” Dr. Raymond Moore
Children often do not respond well to large groups. They become nervous and overexcited by noise and too many people. Learning can become difficult. Behavioral problems can develop. After analyzing over 8,000 early childhood studies, Dr. Moore concluded that, contrary to popular belief, children are best socialized by parents — not other children.
When 20 or 30 kids of the same age are in a classroom together day after day the peer pressure is enormous. Kids feel like they need to look and sound and be like everyone else, at the risk of forgetting or never discovering who they really are. This results in rivalry, ridicule, and competition – hardly the environment for healthy socialization.
A homeschooler who interacts with parents and siblings more than with peers displays self-confidence, self-respect, and self-worth. She knows she’s a part of a family unit that needs, wants, and depends on her. The result is an independent thinker who isn’t influenced by peers and is self-directed in her actions and thoughts.
Never underestimate the power of a loving home and a motivated parent to provide the best educational experience for your child!
More Posts on Homeschooling in the Early Years:
How about you? What tips do you have for homeschooling in Kindergarten?