Once upon a time, before I became a wife and mother, I was a Kindergarten teacher. For one eye-opening year.
I taught in a small Christian school with a very rigid curriculum. Sure, there was some fun for the kids, but not nearly enough.
One student in particular was overwhelmed with the work that was expected of him. I could count on daily melt downs. He’d hide under a table and just cry at times. (His parents knew, and we sought a lot of solutions for the problem, of course.)
The unfortunate thing is when you teach a class, you can’t slow down for one child. The child is simply forced to do work beyond his ability for most of the year then repeat the grade, if nothing is mastered. This little guy simply wasn’t developmentally ready for the program.
I felt as if I’d failed him, when in reality the need to keep on a everyone else’s schedule was what failed him. Had he been homeschooled with this program and been allowed to take a year and a half or even two years, he probably would have done very well and not been nearly as frustrated.
A Kindergartner shouldn’t be overwhelmed with their work…ever. A four-, five-, or even six-year-old does not have the coping mechanisms to handle a difficult work load.
Kindergarten was originally intended to help ease the transition between home and formal schooling. It was meant to be fun, filled with games, and introduce students to what they could expect from formal schooling, but not be formal education in and of itself.
At some point, though, the idea of fun, games, and gradual transitioning gave way to rigid benchmarks, testing, and pre-written standardized curriculum. Even in homeschool communities, there is oftentimes an unspoken race to see whose child can read first, count to 100 first, name farm animals in Spanish first, or [insert arbitrary standard here] first.
Don’t do this to your kids. Let them have fun in Kindergarten!
If they’re ready to read, teach them. If they’re not ready, just work on letters and sounds. If they love numbers, teach them how to add and subtract. If they like painting or science experiments, then go with it.
Kindergarten should start a love of learning, not a dread of schooling. (Tweet This)
With all of that said, Kindergarten is all about looking to future schooling. What you need to teach your student will depend on the curriculum (whether you buy or write your own) that you’re planning for first grade and beyond.
Now, I have my own little Kindergartner. How I teach her looks absolutely nothing like my Kindergarten classroom seven years ago. Homeschooling allows freedoms that a structured classroom simply can’t. Take advantage of that.
With all of this being said, here are the resources I find absolutely indispensable in our home. Your kindergartner will be completely different than mine, but here’s what we love round these parts.
Free Christian curriculum your child can do online. We don’t follow this curriculum to a T, but it gives me a starting place and some assignments to follow.
An oldie but a goodie. I especially like their new DVDs that come with the kit.
This flipped the switch for my daughter in reading. Most of the Kindergarten content is free, and I’m definitely planning on buying a year’s subscription when she reaches the first grade level material.
Between the library, free kindle books, new purchases, and thrift store, we have read a ridiculous amount of level-one readers in this house. Now that my daughter has a basic grasp on reading, it is so much more fun to read stories than do “reading lessons” every day.
If your child isn’t reading yet, a fun way to read with them is to pick out one word for them to read in the entire story and have them say it every time you get to it.
The price is certainly right compared to other tablets, the Amazon App store is growing, and there are always a ton of free kids books. Also the built[-in parental controls are secure enough to hand a Kindle over to a child and not worry. (Make sure you don’t buy the first generation Kindle, which has no parental controls.) If you earn swagbucks, it makes owning a Kindle Fire (compared to another tablet) even more economical because of the gift cards you can earn.
Free Time Subscription For The Kindle
Free Time is a monthly subscription for kid-friendly content. It is awesome. There are a ton of educational apps included with the subscription and books galore. I especially like the science books, and we read them frequently. Luckily, if you have a Kindle Fire, you can enroll in your first month of Free Time for free so you can check it out. (Check to see if a promotion is still going on before purchasing.)
This app costs $2.99 and is worth every penny. It’s my favorite phonics based reading app.
This is my favorite sight words app. It has a free version you can try, but the paid app is definitely worth it.
You can try ABCMouse out for free, and there is a referral system to help offset the cost of a subscription. It’s a little on the easy side, curriculum-wise, and some of the games might be frustrating if your child can’t handle the mouse, but it’s worth a free try for sure. With that said, I paid for a year’s subscription because my daughter loved it so much.
Between shows like Peg+Cat, Super Why, and Daniel Tiger, if my kids watch TV, it’s PBS. (Be wary of evolutionary slant of some shows though, if you teach creationism.) I’m sure some learning experts would say children don’t learn from shows like these, but I know for a fact Super Why is how my two oldest started reading, before I ever started working with them. The games on their website are a great asset, too.
So those are my top (fun) picks for Kindergarten. We, of course, supplement with lots of books, trips to the library, and I base a lot of what we do on structured curriculum. But ultimately, I don’t think Kindergarten should be about pushing.
What are your must haves for a Kindergarten homeschool?