5 Tips for Homeschooling a Kindergartener

Thursday, July 16, 2015

5 Tips for Homeschooling a Kindergartener

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Getting ready to start homeschooling your kindergartener? Here are 5 must read tips to ensure you have a fun, successful year.
How to Homeschool Kindergarten - 5 fantastic trips every parent should read!



Do you have a Kindergarten age child?


I bet you are excited to start homeschooling. Many of you have been reading, planning, and researching this first step on your homeschool journey for years. (I know I was a HUGE planner ahead of time.)


But before you start, I really want ensure you have a successful first year. Your first year is going to be the foundation by which all future homeschooling years built on. So here are 5 Tips for Homeschooling a Kindergartner:


Focus on Relationship over Content

I hate to burst your bubble, but your child is not going to learn any physics or be able to write the great American novel in Kindergarten.  Not going to happen.


Okay, so you that’s probably not shocking to you. But how many of us feel the pressure to push our kids to get through books and learn a whole bunch to prove to ourselves, spouses, families, or society that homeschooling is a good idea?  I bet many of you figure if you could do Kindergarten you would keep going with this homeschooling thing.

I’d like to propose that the main purpose of Kindergarten is to learn how to learn in a more structured environment.

Your kids have been self motivated, curious learners since they were born. They learned to smile, sit, crawl, walk, talk, share, use the bathroom, and more. They eagerly wanted to explore and learn what would happen when a block tower was pushed down. And then repeat their experiment. {grins}  But what they don’t know is how to learn in a structured environment.


Now don’t get me wrong, there are some important things you will learn in Kindergarten like how to count to 100, add basic numbers 0-10, learn to write and identify alphabet letters, and to begin sounding out letters to make words. They may even learn a little about their community, community helpers, discover their 5 senses, gain some new vocabulary, and learn about animals. But even if kids can do all that already– they still start with Kindergarten. Why? So all kids have the same foundation to their education.


In schools, Kindergarten age kids are taught how to sit quietly, raise their hands, listen to a teacher, and have a scheduled day with an assigned time for snack.  I mean most Kindergarten school days are half days because there really isn’t that much to cover. In Kindergarten they cover some material, but more importantly they teach kids what is going to be expected of them for the rest of their schooling career.


So back to my main point – focus on relationship over content.
Since you are building the foundation by which your child will spend their entire homeschooling career let’s build a solid foundation. A foundation built on a solid relationship with you – their parent, their teacher.


Focus on making learning fun and interesting. Focus on correcting with kind words instead of yelling at them for not getting something done right or faster. Just breath. It’s Kindergarten.

Your child may not remember a thing you teach them this year, but they will be left with an impression of what school is like. Is it going to be fun and a chance to hang out with you (someone they trust who makes them feel like they can succeed) or a list of endless tasks with a drill sergeant yelling at them.
You decide.

 

Let your Child’s Interests Guide your Study

Your child has been a self motivated learner since they were born. They learned to eat because they were hungry. Your child perfected their eating technique over the years as they mastered teh spoon, solid foods, and a big kid cup. And except for maybe a little encouragement from you, they did it because they wanted to learn. They were curious, they were motivated, and they wanted to learn.

Homeschool should allow children to continue following their own natural curiosity to explore the world around them.

Don’t make learning boring by taking the child out of their education. They will learn, be excited by, and remember things so much better if they initiate the learning.

So how does that work?

If you boy loves snakes why not learn about snakes. Check out some books at the library, make some snake crafts, and visit the reptile house at your local zoo.

Instead of having your child write meaningless sentences to learn to write have them write out scripture, letters to grandma, grocery lists, or the names of their favorite Disney princesses.
Make sense?

Sure there are going to be some things they just need to learn. But as much as possible, allow your child to pick what they are learning and set the pace.

Reading is #1

Of all the things you want to do in Kindergarten let me encourage you that the #1 most important thing is to read.

Read a lot.

Read a variety of books about a variety of topics including classic books like these 45 Must Read Books for Kindergartners.

By reading a lot you can cover social studies, science, reading, math concepts, geography, bible, and building vocabulary.

Besides learning facts, kids will learn that books teach. They will learn to appreciate [and even love] books - the basis of most leaning!

As the year progresses kids can begin reading books to you too! Start with sight word reading books and progress to Kindergarten books by reading level


Ensure Correct Letter Formation

This is a personal tip from me to you.

With my oldest I doted on every little aspect of his year. I mean I had been planning his Kindergarten homeschool year since he was born. I watched him do every worksheet paper, did tons of experiments, took him on lots of field trips, and was his own personal cheerleader.

Now fast-forward to my 2nd child. She was excited to do school and worked very well independently. She was very different from my son, she could already read some, knew all her letters and sounds, had a great vocabulary, and a great understanding about the world around her. However her fine motor skills were weak. She didn’t like to color and so hadn’t developed those muscles very much yet.  So when we began making letters I could tell it was going to be a struggle. she just needed practice, and lots of it, to get those hand muscles working the way they needed to do make letters. So as we were repeating much of the Kindergarten plan I had already done plus I was splitting my time with a 2nd grader I left her to do many worksheets independently to make her letters.  The muscles started developing and after several months she started making more recognizable letters and pictures.

Now to my mistake: I did not watch her form her letters and numbers carefully.

I was at the table with the kids. I was not an absent homeschool mom. But I was helping my older child and my Kindergarten child seemed to be doing well, was happy, was making more and more recognizable figures, and she kept completing worksheets. Welll…….she wasn’t forming her letters or number correctly. And it began to show when she had trouble with future letters or writing more. By the time I caught that she really couldn’t properly form most letters she already had developed some poor habits that took quite some time to undo.
Ugh!
It is so much easier to make sure things are learned right the first time than to try to fix them later!

So learn from my experience and when it comes to learning to make letters or numbers, beginning to sound out words, understanding the concept being addition/subtraction, etc. make sure you are there to not only teach those important building blocks, but stick with them to ensure they’ve got it down before you multi task somewhere else!


Plan Extracurricular Activities in Moderation

Kids need the opportunity to interact with other kids, adults, and new environments.  I won’t go into the whole socialization thing here, but if you’re interested here is My Two Cents about Socialization.
So please make a plan for some extracurricular activities like:
  • Awana Club
  • Fieldtrips (zoo, aquarium, science museum, working farms, etc.)
  • Co-ops
  • Sunday School
  • Play Group
  • Classes through a park district (6-8 weekly classes in art, music, tumbling, soccer, dance, etc.)
  • Camping
WARNING! Planned kids activities are great but….. and this is a big BUT! Too much of a good thing is not good.


A single chocolate chip cookie is delicious, energizing, and fun. But eating a whole batch of chocolate chip cookies is bad for your health, heart, self control, etc.
What activity moderation looks like in your home may be different than in our home. You’ll need to take into account how many kids you have, the expense, how far you have to travel, the availability of parents, and the quality of programs available.


Our family’s Extracurricular Schedule
  • weekly Awana (as a family)
  • weekly Sunday School (As a family)
  • quarterly class each (tumbling, soccer, music, art, illusion, etc. through our city’s excellent park district)
  • monthly co-op (3 families from church meet together for a combined unit)
  • semi-weekly fieldtrips (I think especially when kids are young, fieldtrips are a great teaching tool and one of the advantages of homeschooling in the first place. Our fieldtrips could be a simple trip to our nature center or arboretum, a visit to the zoo, or a trip to the science museum)
  • annual vacation (we go on an annual vacation which usually includes camping, seeing a different part of the world, and a lot of new educational experiences – see our Revolutionary War Trip)

What tips do you have for families Homeschooling a Kindergartner?



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