Sunday, December 19, 2010
Homeschooling in Kindergarten
Kindergarten is scary. Well, it was for me. That was the beginning. That was where the rubber met the road and we decided if I had what was required to be my children's teacher. I put a lot of pressure on myself. Too much. Now that I have made it through that year with both of my daughters I am going to share what did and didn't work for us and a few things I will do differently with my son. Remember, this is what worked for OUR family and may not be what works for yours. It took 2 years of tweaking and I had to learn how to teach them before we settled in. I am still learning.
So here is what worked for us:
1 hour TOPS of formal school per day. For my husband's benefit I did do some formal sit down school with the girls during their K-5 year. However, we would only do 15 minute sessions for only a total of 1 hour per day. This could include some workbook type activity, cooking, a field trip or even time on http://www.starfall.com/.
Here are the workbooks that I liked for Kindergarten. Keep in mind that this is AFTER I went through nearly a year of agonizing about whether I was ruining my kids for life if I didn't replicate a public school environment:
Explode the Code Primers- We LOVE these books. We are actually still working in the upper level books. In K-5 this was comprehensive enough to work as the only language arts we used.
Horizons Math K SET of 2 Student Workbooks K-1 and K-2- This is a spiral approach. We have since decided to change to a mastery approach but this did work for us the first year. It is colorful and the girls really enjoyed that.
Unit Studies by Currclick- We really enjoy short unit studies. You can get them for anything from studies on a specific child's book to studies about a specific country your child might be interested in. The best thing is that because they are down -loadable you can reuse them with your other children.
Besides this little bit of formal curriculum, we also did a lot of art. I mean tons of art. I let my girls get out the scissors and glue out any time they ask, as long as they clean up the mess. This has not only helped to develop motor skills, but has resulted in lots of creative art.
That's what worked for us. Now here are a few things I would have done a bit differently:
Firstly, I would have relaxed. Like most new homeschooling mom's I thought I had to meet a public school standard when it came to hours spent learning, curriculum, extra-curricular activities and so on. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn't manage 6 hours a day with school. In the beginning I felt like I was some how failing my children. Then I did what I suggest every new homeschooling mom do, I found a support group of women who had been doing it longer than me. These women helped me to realize that I didn't need to replicate school at home.
Which brings me to my next point. I would have spent less time replicating school at home. Or attempting to anyways. I would have bought less curriculum an spent more time letting my children learn organically through play and other natural opportunities.
And lastly, I would have defended my choice less. I would have spent less time trying to convince others that I was secure in my choice and just well, been secure. I don't mind answering questions for those genuinely curious, but for the most part I now don't mention we are homeschoolers anymore. Not because I am not proud of that choice, but because it is just simply less hassle.
I hope this is a bit of help for any of you just starting your journey homeschooling. The first year is chaotic, but you will find your stride and the rewards are well worth the initial chaos! And by the way, even with the chaos, my children still test at grade level or above.