Every year, Shelli and Amy open the door and invite you to step inside their homeschool lives. (Please ignore the mess!) We talk about the resources we're using in our own homeschools and how we structure our days. There are lots of ways to homeschool, and we don't think our way is the best—just the one that happens to be working best for our particular families at this particular time. If nothing else, you will get a behind-the-scenes look in the homes of the editors of home / school / life, but if something here helps you, all the better! Today, Shelli's talking about how she homeschooled kindergarten this year.
This is my second time homeschooling kindergarten, and I can assure you, it’s so much easier the second time around! I know without a doubt that as long as I’m spending quality time with my son, reading to him, letting him explore, and most importantly, giving him free, unstructured time to play, I can’t go wrong with kindergarten.
The nice thing about being a younger sibling is that you pick up so much information just by watching your older sibling. My six-year-old watches and sometimes participates in his brother’s lessons. He hears books read aloud that are well above his level. He can help out when we do a science experiment, and he loves art day, too. With my first son, I didn’t know any other homeschoolers until he was four or five, but my younger son has been going to play dates since he was a baby.
My older son was in the third grade this year, so his work was harder and more structured than any year thus far. As a result, my six-year-old had much more structure to his days than his older brother did at six years old, but the upside to this is that he still had lots of time to play by himself while I was working with his brother. I think letting children learn how to play by themselves is so important. Not only does it give them important skills that they will need in the future, it is also very helpful to their parents in the present moment!
This year I’m slowly helping my son with his reading skills. I have tried a variety of resources (just like I did with my older son), and thankfully, I am much more patient than I used to be. We spend about 30 minutes on language arts three days a week. I don’t worry about whether he’s keeping up with his peers because I know from experience that it’s better to let children learn how to read at their own pace.
Here’s what I’ve used and will keep using for the foreseeable future:
- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons – This became too difficult for him, so I stopped using it and will save until next year.
- Brainquest’s Kindergarten Star Wars workbooks – We finished these and will be moving onto the 1st grade workbooks soon.
- Starfall.com – My son loves this site.
- Starfall Level 1 Reading and Writing Journal
- Handwriting Without Tears “My Printing Book”
I use Life of Fred with my older boy, but that curriculum just didn’t seem right for my younger son. Instead, I’m using Singapore’s Primary Math Textbook 1A with Home Instructor’s Guide (U.S. Edition) with great success. Actually, I’ve been using it much longer than this school year. We do lessons three days a week, and I am carefully going through every worksheet, game and activity with him. When we finish this set, I’ll move on to the next level.
I don’t worry about completing any curriculum in one school year. For me, I am more concerned about making steady progress at my son’s pace.
My six-year-old seems to love math. If you ask him, he would say he didn’t like math, but actions speak louder than words. This kid is always asking me math questions, he loves to count things, and he’s always noting the time. He even wanted to join his older brother in learning the multiplication tables!
All other subjects
At this age, I don’t do any formal lessons in science or social studies. I am confident that through our daily life and major interests, he is getting all the instruction he needs for these areas. We watch nature, science, or history documentaries every day, visit museums frequently, and he attends classes and camps at the local nature center and botanical garden.
I try to make every Friday “art day,” and we have read about artists, the history of art, and visited the local art museum. For history, we read books and watch documentaries. (My husband is a history professor, so I’m not worried about history.)
My six-year-old loves birds, so we have spent a lot of time observing birds, reading about them, drawing them, and listening to the sounds they make on our bird guide app.
The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that if you are curious, engaged in life, and open-minded, your children will learn so much through their daily life. Very little instruction is needed. (Of course, for unschoolers, they feel no instruction is needed at all, and that works for many families too.)
I do teach my children certain subjects, but mostly, I try to fill our house with books and tools, and I give them plenty of time to play and ask questions. Especially for kindergarten, this is all we need.
Please offer your kindergarten tips in the comments section below.
SHELLI BOND PABIS is home | school | life magazine’s senior editor. She writes about her family’s homeschooling journey at www.mamaofletters.com.