Saturday, June 15, 2013

Thoughts on homeschooling kindergarten

What do you imagine when you think of kindergarten? I can't help but picture the scene in Billy Madison where he first goes "back to school" to re-pass every grade. I suppose this scene was from first grade, but I always think of him drooling on his nap mat and coloring a blue duck (not to mention Miss Lippy spreading glue all over face).

I'm not so into eating paste, (but I really ought to consider sending the kids outside for dodge ball... "Dodge ball is a special time..."), but there is something fun and innocent about the coloring and pasting and story reading that makes kindergarten so special.

The thing I love about homeschooling kindergarten, is you kind of can't mess it up. Some countries don't have children beginning formal academics until they are 7 or 8, and our insistence on beginning formal schoolwork at 5 doesn't necessarily put our kids ahead. That's not to say Grayson didn't have his own set of schoolwork to do this year. We worked on phonics and reading, handwriting, and math, and even a little science. We read stories and poetry and did some art projects. But you can have a more relaxed pace and not stress too much about how much schoolwork your child is doing. You still have many years ahead of you.

Part of our fairy tale project - his Cinderella "magic pumpkin carriage"

Kindergarten offers a lovely freedom for the homeschooling parent; at least I felt that way. It takes very little time to do a phonics lesson or practice reading, then do a math lesson and a handwriting page. And if we didn't do all those things each day, it was fine. I think many homeschoolers find themselves reading a vast amount of material aloud, and those become part of your kindergartner's day as well. Simple, quick and fun - those were my guiding principles for Grayson this year.

My relaxed approach has worked well for him. I think of all my kids, he would have been the one to really dislike going to school. He's a little bit wiggly and does not like having someone else plan his entire day for him. He likes having the freedom to choose the order of his subjects, and to spend lots of time playing and building things. And I love that I can give that to him.

Homemade sling shot - and yes, he almost always wears a hoodie

He's made enormous progress in handwriting this year, his reading is taking off, and we abandoned the kindergarten math book and jumped partway into the first grade level because math was so easy for him (I realized this after he looked at a worksheet one day and said, very dramatically, "Yawn! This is too easy, Mom." Time to move up!). I'm very happy with the progress he's made in his basic skills subjects.

And for a child who is already apt to equate learning with boring, even at the tender age of 6, I think I've done a good job of preserving his natural curiosity and keeping him interested in the process of learning. My hope is that we will find things that ignite his curiosity and get him thinking and wanting to learn things on his own.

For now, I'll keep exposing him to great stories and other interesting material, working with him on his basic skills, and providing lots of room for his interests in things like geography and Lego building.

Man, I love that little guy


  1. I think you're doing K wonderfully! My daughter just finished K too. You've been nominated by me for The Super Sweet Blogging Award!