I’m frequently asked how to homeschool kindergarten, so I thought it might be useful to post it for future reference.
First things first: the only wrong way to homeschool kindergarten is to try to do too much with your kid and stress him or her out. (And an unfortunately large number of over-eager mothers end up doing just that.) There are lots and lots of good ways to structure a kindergarten experience, so feel free to do it your way. But what I’ve found from talking with dozens of mothers who are considering homeschooling is that they don’t want to do it their way because they are intimidated by all of the options. They want a little hand-holding. So here it is.
Be sure to check the legal requirements for your state before you get started.
How to make a lesson plan
(You don’t technically need this but if you have a toddler or two distracting you to the point where you have forgotten whether you’ve done math today, this will be very helpful.)
In a Word document, set the paper to landscape and make five columns. In the first column, write:
In each of the other columns, put a blank across the top. You’ll write in the dates by hand in these blanks as the year progresses. The reason that you aren’t writing the dates in now is that life (illness, fieldtrips, etc.) is going to intervene and you’ll just end up “behind.” But you’re only aiming for 144 days this year, so don’t worry about it.
Next, put a check box (go under ‘insert symbol’ to find these) for each subject for each day. (However, only do science twice, social studies once, and art once per week.)
Then make 36 copies of this. That gives you 36 school weeks, each with four days. Three-hole punch and put in a binder. Now you have lesson plans.
What to do for each lesson
Phonics–Buy the book Phonics Pathways. Each day, set a timer for ten minutes, snuggle on the couch, and work through it (entirely orally–no writing) with your child.
Reading–After about 20 Phonics Pathways lessons, get a set or two of BOB books (or something similar such as these) and do one per day. After that, use the easy readers from your library (These are the kind from series such as Step Into Reading, I Can Read, Ready-to-Read, etc.) and have your child read one per day to you.
Books–Each day, read your child one fiction picture book and one nonfiction picture book from the library. The picture books will be very easy to find. For nonfiction, I suggest anything by Aliki or Demi or Gail Gibbons. Once you find those, you’ll find lots more.
Math–Order Horizons K (Note: there are two workbooks for the year; I only linked to the first). You do not need the teachers’ manual. Just do one lesson per day. If it helps your child, use physical objects (beans, buttons, pieces of cereal) to work the problems.
Science–Buy the book Mudpies to Magnets and do the wonderful experiments in it.
Social Studies–Buy Children Just Like Me and each week, read about one child.
Art–Buy the book Storybook Art and do one project per week. You will need to find the corresponding book at the library.
Memory Work–Pick one short and easy scripture and work on it until you know it. Don’t spend more than two minutes per day on this. At that age, it helps to jump on the couch when you practice.
That’s it for academics. It will take about an hour per day. I think it is nice to read aloud a novel to your kids, but frankly our family goes through phases when we do and don’t do that. I have found it easier to do that as part of the bedtime routine than as part of school. Good ones for that age include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web, Little House on the Prairie, etc.
What about socialization?
Almost every town of any size has an email list (or two or ten) which functions as a clearinghouse for information about playgroups, field trips, park days, co-ops, classes, etc., etc.
What about housework?
Hey, at least now you have an excuse for your messy house.
What about my toddler(s)/infant(s)?
Well, that’s the hardest part of homeschooling for me. You do what you have to do. I sometimes stagger meals and snacks so toddlerman is quiet with his mouth full while I’m reading to the older ones. We also let him watch United Streaming (get your membership from the Homeschool Buyer’s Coop for a discount). I also have boxes and boxes of things that he is only allowed to play with during school time to keep him entertained. You can also do one-on-one things during naptime. I’ve also been reduced to putting toddlerman in the bathtub and doing school on the bathroom floor during really difficult days. Whatever works.
Note: my links keep, uh, changing. (No, really.) I gave up on most of them. After the demons are exorcised, I’ll try putting them back in.