Are you new to homeschooling? Here are four things you need to consider when beginning your homeschool:
Your goal is to consider what is an education is anyway and read about unschooling, deschooling, and learning.
But I want you to tuck those things in the back of your head for your kid’s childhood. Because you won’t get clear on your ideas about homeschool straightaway. Just consider them as you enjoy your kindergarten year with your kiddo.
So how to do kindergarten in your homeschool?
Kindergarten is a rite of passage, right?
I put my first six-year-old daughter on the bus at the end of the block, then I went directly home to load my other two girls into the minivan and followed that yellow bus to the school that I had registered her in.
Yeah, I did.
My oldest daughter bumped along the gravel road on that green vinyl seat while chatting with a new friend.
She checked out the first graders behind her and the second graders behind them and behind them, third graders until the bus was bookended with high schoolers.
My six-year-old daughter looked out that wide window, past the railroad tracks, past the silos, past the silky yellow fields, to the gigantic butter-coloured school in anticipation.
I would grieve this day (or celebrate it) by chasing that yellow bus with my camera in ready position.
You’d see me balance that camera on top of the steering wheel, stick it out the side window, and photograph those few miles for my scrapbook.
This was a momentous day, my daughter began her journey toward independence, at age six.
Just 1,990 days before, she and I traveled a different path: from the hospital post-partum ward to her cradle in our first apartment.
And just 1,990 days before, she fed directly from me, she bathed because daddy brought her to the foldable tub on the dresser, and she slept because I held her in my arms.
Her days of dependence were coming to a close.
When I’d pulled that minivan into the school parking lot, I slowly crept by the bus to capture her first descent off those three black steps…click click click.
“Good job, Hannah,” I yelled.
(I’m not sure what I thought she did well. It was me that should have been congratulated. I had managed to stay on the road with two squirming toddlers while I perilously photographed that bus while I drove.)
Fast forward six years: my youngest is getting his hair cut. The stylist asks how I want his hair prepared for his first day of kindergarten.
Hmm, kindergarten? But he’s four!
The cut-off date is January, she tells me. Parents can decide whether a child goes to kindergarten now. It’s your choice.
Hmm, somehow the kindergarten years slipped from my awareness (not that I would ever have considered kindergarten at four).
But I hadn’t been thinking about my son going to any school, because he was the youngest of four kids.
I wasn’t thinking about grades at all anymore.
Rather, I’m facilitating an education for each of my kids based on interests first, and also incorporating things I think are important.
Kindergarten: days of play centers, introductions to line-ups and bagged lunches, sounding out letters and counting manipulatives, reading stories at the foot of a teacher, resting on blankies at quiet times, and swinging on playground equipment at recess.
I decided to skip the mile-drive camera in hand for my four-year-old. I’ll simply photograph him on the front porch.
Those first 1,990 days slipped silkily through my fingers like one long night. I’ll try to keep closer to my youngest son’s next 1,990 days and keep him home to learn and play.
Now, what would I do with him at home?
What would I do with a kindergarten child if I had one now?
It would be pretty simple.
This would be my kindergarten homeschool curriculum:
Read books together.
And enjoy the books. We’d tote home dozens of hard-covered storybooks every week from the library (& we’d probably routinely pay hefty library fines too: welcome to homeschooling!)
Oh, and I’d let my kiddo play with Lego, dolls, draw, or whatever will keep his hands busy, while I read for a little bit (“a little bit” might mean five minutes or sixty.)
I’d think learning opportunities, not school subjects.
Also, I’d definitely do Five in a Row. What a fun curriculum.
(But if something stopped being fun, I’d stop doing it.)
I’d use a workbook, like Evan Moore’s books, for maybe printing or number recognition or addition (if my kiddo didn’t have to work too hard to do the activity).
However, I’d only do it if my kiddo wanted to do it and I’d only do it in a subject my kiddo wanted and only for fewer than twenty minutes each day unless my kiddo wanted to do more.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY: I’d follow my kiddo.
We’d do clockwork practice with a simple clock.
I’d explain to him how to use a clock.
A minute or two a day is all I’d need to explain it. Just a basic introduction would be all he’d need. Because I would know that a teeny exposure to any subject will make an expert, or at least make someone capable, in a few short months.
We’d go outside every day.
Then we’d walk, look at leaves, discover what’s hiding under logs in a pond, listen to birdsong, lay in a field, and stare up at the sky: whatever, we’d just hang out in nature together.
We’d create a routine and regularly use it.
A simple routine. One that didn’t force us to wake too early, but still allowed us to be present in the morning hours.
- One that honoured the other kiddos in the house.
- Definitely create a routine that got him, and me, enough sleep.
- One that included my natural interests and his, and one that included my natural rhythms too.
- I’d learn flexibility when the routine wasn’t working and wouldn’t do it when it wasn’t.
We wouldn’t do more.
I wouldn’t try to be competing with a local private school, trying to convince myself that whatever I was doing really was more effort and more brilliant than a private school education.
Because I’d know I wasn’t trying to make a school at home.
I’d alter my expectations: my home is not a school.
We’d chart the weather.
Together, we’d begin to discover different cloud forms, temperature shifts, barometers, and thermometer use.
Our money would be spent on Home Science Tools or KiwiCo or at-home experiment boxes.
Because I love science, we’d dabble in science fun.
We’d do poetry teatime every day.
Cause it’s fun.
And we’d read any poetry book that struck us as fun.
Or just because it’s pretty.
We’d include other fun days and create traditions around them even.
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We’d explore art while we read.
Just because I love it.
(I’d learn to do things I loved to do with my kids.)
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I’d let them play.
In fact, incorporate play, a LOT of play, into our day.
Because I’d be confident that playing was learning.
I wouldn’t fuss about reading, writing, or arithmetic.
But identify when we’re doing reading, writing, and arithmetic naturally in our days.
I’d teach boundaries now.
And I’d ask myself, what do I need?
And I’d start practicing that question, a lot.
Like incorporating quiet moments, separate times, or dealing with conflict in a respectful way.
I’d seriously consider what I need and determine to include myself in my homeschool from the beginning.
I’d teach them to cook.
(This might mean making ants on a log, or mac n’ cheese, or having them chop veggies alongside me at dinner: just get them involved early.)
And create a routine with our menu plan, so I wouldn’t feel stressed.
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I’d incorporate games into my homeschool on the regular.
All the games. Any games. Whatever games we were into.
Because I’d know that we would eventually play every game known to mankind.
(Oh, and I would make sure to invest in Hasbro stocks. Might as well earn money from all that natural investing.)
I’d read about homeschooling, unschooling, learning, and child development.
I’ve got my homeschool mama reading list naturally, so I would read.
And I’d make sure I was chatting with other homeschool mamas who were reading too.
Because reading helps me show up on purpose in my homeschool (& my life) if I choose the right influencers.
And I would join the Homeschool Mama Book Club too (but I actually couldn’t do that, because I wouldn’t have created that yet. By the way, it is actually a thing: you can join it here!)
I’d listen to more podcasts.
- Homeschool Mama Self-Care (my podcast),
- Readaloud Revival,
- Honey, I Homeschooled the Kids
- and Brave Writer with Julie Bogart.
(Of course, none of these podcasts were around when I began homeschooling, but if I could, I would surround myself with a whole bunch of homeschool mamas and learn from them all).
I’d make sure fun was the prime goal of my homeschool kindergarten.
Fun and great memories!
Deschool your Homeschool Journaling Workbook
Deschool your homeschool journaling workbook that aids in your self-exploration, to get clear on how you can bring freedom & individualization into your homeschool.
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