homeschool

How To Do Kindergarten: 20 Ideas from a Veteran Homeschool Mom

Bringing your kiddo home this fall?

Here are four things you need to consider when beginning your homeschool:

Your goal is to consider what an education is anyway and read about unschoolingdeschooling, and learning

I compiled a Homeschool Mama Reading List just for you!

(These books are ones that have taught me everything that has helped me structure my 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 school.

My oldest daughter bumped along the gravel road on that green vinyl seat 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 watched out that wide window, past the railroad tracks, past the silos, past the silky yellow fields, to the gigantic butter-coloured school.

I would grieve this day, or celebrate it, by chasing that yellow bus with my camera in ready position. I’d balance that camera on top of the steering wheel, stick it out of the side window, and photograph those few miles for the record book.

This was a momentous day. My daughter would begin her journey of independence, at age six.

Just 1,990 days before, she and I travelled a different path: from the hospital post-partum ward to her cradle in our first apartment. 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. The parent can decide whether he 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. I wasn’t thinking in grades at all anymore. Rather, I’m pursuing an education for each of my kids based on interests first, and also incorporating things I think are important too.

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 this time. 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?

Pretty simple. 

A kindergarten homeschool curriculum:

  1. Read books together. And enjoy the books. Let my kiddo play 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 observe my child.)
  2. Think learning opportunities, not school subjects.
  3. Do Five in a Row. What a fun curriculum. (But if it stopped being fun, I’d stop it.)
  4. Use workbook, like Evan Moore books. (But 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 every day, unless my kiddo wanted to do more. THE MORAL OF THE STORY: I’d follow my kiddo.)
  5. Learn clockwork with a simple clock. 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 I’d need.
  6. Nature study. Go outside, 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, just hang out in nature together.
  7. Create a routine and regularly use it.
  8. Learn flexibility when the routine isn’t working and don’t do it when it didn’t.
  9. Don’t do more. Alter my expectations: my home is not a school.
  10. Chart the weather. Begin to discover different cloud forms, temperature shifts, barometer and thermometer use. Dabble in it for fun.
  11. Poetry teatime. Cause it’s fun.
  12. Include other fun days. Which took me a couple decades to include. Fun wasn’t my default setting.
  13. Explore art while we read.
  14. Let them play. In fact, incorporate play, a LOT of play, into our day.
  15. Don’t fuss about reading, writing, or arithmetic. But identify when we’re doing reading, writing and arithmetic naturally in our days.
  16. Teach boundaries now. What do I need? Like quiet moments, separate times, or dealing with conflict in a respectful way. Seriously consider what I need and determine to include me in my homeschool from the beginning.
  17. 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.)
  18. Incorporate games into my homeschool on the regular.
  19. Read about homeschooling, unschooling, learning, and child development. I’ve got my Homeschool Mama Reading List here.
  20. I’d listen to more podcasts, like Homeschool Mama Self-Care, Readaloud Revival, Honey, I Homeschooled the Kids, and Julie Bogart.
  21. And fun, I’d make sure fun was the prime goal. Fun and great memories!
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Are you considering homeschooling your kids?

I’ve got a free mini-course that introduces you to me, so I can get you from “I don’t know where to start, to I’ve got a plan.”

I’ve got a full course that inspires you to consider what an education is anyway, and get you thinking and planning for your child’s education.

I’ve got a course that will get you from “I don’t think I can do this, I’m too uncertain, nervous, or afraid” to “I know I can do this, I’ve got this girlfriend.”

How to Homeschool 101 will give you Everything you Need to Know to Get Started, Create a Personalized Education, and Gain Confidence in Creating your Routine.

Teresa Wiedrick
Teresa Wiedrick

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