When you think of kindergarten, you may visualize the poignant images of a five-year-old strapping on a backpack and heading out for his first day of school, while the parent waves, smiles, and maybe cries a little. I always envisioned my child’s first day of school a little like that. However, after much thought and consideration, we deviated from that path when we decided to try homeschooling our children. Having recently completed our eldest son’s first year of homeschooling, I can tell you, any mental images that I had were quite different from the realities.
Find Your Method
Homeschooling is often thought of as a miniature version of traditional schooling, with the parent taking on the role of the teacher, standing in front of the children and directly teaching them. Actually, even traditional schools are moving away from this model. In education lingo, we are moving away from the sage on the stage and toward the guide on the side. While some parents may still take the sage route, there are many other styles of homeschooling. One of the joys of kindergarten is experimenting to find the best ways that your child learns. When you see the spark of excitement, you know that you have found a great method for reaching your child.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
What do you need to do to get ready to homeschool your kindergartener? It’s as easy as 1,2,3.
- Do your homework. What are the laws and requirements for homeschooling in your state? Make sure that you are legal before you get started. If you are not sure where to start, check for information and resources at www.hslda.org You may also need to fill out paperwork at your public school. Next, find a support group, or two, or three. You can use the wisdom of others to help you navigate the waters of homeschooling. Your kids can learn and play with other kids, while you get some needed help and encouragement. This will also alleviate some of the relentless socialization question.
- Have fun and play! Children learn through play, so they should enjoy learning. Start by watching your children at play on their own. What activities do they gravitate towards? My eldest is a builder and inventor, so I incorporate projects into our homeschooling whenever possible. Other children may prefer art, music, physical play, or particular subjects. Let your child enjoy and explore his or her passion. Find ways to nurture it. Then, incorporate his passion into what you would like him to learn. Things change, of course, so be prepared when his passions change.
- Try, try, and try again. Experiment to find the learning approaches that work for you and your child. Some parents are most comfortable using an all-inclusive curriculum. Others purchase different subjects from different publishers. Still others piece together their own curriculum. Computer-based learning is also growing in its availability and quality. I found it helpful to look at state and national learning standards for kindergarten, so I could be realistic in my goals and objectives. Just like there are different styles in traditional schools, homeschools have varied approaches. You can find lots of resources to help you, but also be wary of information-overload. You cannot do it all. Remember to focus on enjoying your own children. If you try to see the world through their eyes, it is amazing what you will both learn together.
Lesson Planet has plenty of ideas that you can use to enhance your kindergarten homeschooling experience!
Technology that Makes Phonics Fun
Here are several websites with applications that can be used to enhance your child’s understanding of phonics. A great resource!
Weekly Math Challenge
Learners keep a Math Challenge notebook and write their response to a weekly challenge problem. You could offer incentives to fuel the challenge or just keep the reward as the satisfaction of solving the problem.
Science Scavenger Hunt
Take your kids outside to learn! Multiple ages and learning-types will find this activity fun while it encourages scientific observation. Make this your own by encouraging the discovery of certain types of objects or life forms. Then, work together to research and discover more about all that you found.
Use this idea to create a memory page for each month of your homeschooling journey. Your child can help you do this either digitally or by hand at the end of every month. This would make a great yearbook or addition to your child’s portfolio.