It seems like kindergarden was finished just as quickly as it began. This was our unofficial official start to our adventures in homeschooling. I have always wanted to teach our children at home. My last year in the classroom was spent in kindergarten making it most fresh and recent in mind. I absolutely l-o-v-e-d kindergarten and wanted my sweet girl to feel the same. Starting out, my ultimate end goal for the year was to cultivate a heart excited and enchanted by learning! I aimed for her to be able to read, solve basic math problems (+ and -), recognize numbers to 100, and to have the very, very basics of writing. Of course, we would (and did) a lot more than just that but starting out that was all I put on myself and subsequently her for the year.
This year was about learning how we would do school. It was about setting the foundation for a beautiful future of learning and growing together. Homeschool is not for the faint of heart. There were days we struggled, days when patience ran thin, days we were sick or days nothing could go right. BUT, there were also glorious days we celebrated reading our first word, and then sentence, and then paragraph, and then a WHOLE book! There were days we made break throughs that sent us both laughing and dancing across the house! We had countless ballet dance parties to classical composers. There were field trips to museums, the zoo, ballet performances, and playgrounds. There were also days we decided school could wait and we took the day off to take a road trip or celebrate her birthday.
That’s one of the sweetest beauties of homeschooling, it is what you make it to be. We could have joined a co-op, classical conversation group, or any other organized group but we decided this year was a home year. A year to start out on wobbly legs and find our way together. For my own reference and comfort I looked up our state standards (just google your state’s standards for education) to see what the schools were expecting of kindergarteners. According to HSLDA (Home School Law Defense Association) there are no federally mandated national standards but I felt more comfortable seeing what her schooled peers would attempting to accomplish. From there I set our goals (reading, number sense, writing) and started to look around at curriculums/programs. The more I searched the more I felt my hands would be tied. I knew because of the financial investment I would feel obligated to do all the curriculum required. It would naturally infringe on our freedom I really wanted to enjoy kindergarten.
If I could give a tiny very humble piece of advice to new to homeschooling mamas headed to kindergarten let the year be FUN. There are plenty of years ahead for rigor and a more regimented learning. Let this year be about learning how you learn together. Definitely make a plan and set goals but give your self freedom to loosen up and really love the little (school) years. That being said, every family is different and if you feel most comfortable with a curriculum or a program like CC then I say go for it! The Lord is faithful to show you the way your family is supposed to go.
Here is what we used for reading in our very relaxed school year:
This was perfect for my big girl and her learning style. She’s eager to learn and has a longer attention span. That being said, I could see this book being a challenge for my younger two when they come to kindergarten age. We did 75 of the lessons and chose to stop there. The book says it teaches your child up to a second grade reading level. Since that wasn’t our goal we stopped when I felt comfortable with her reading and moved into focusing on reading high interest books together for the remainder of the year.
At the beginning of the book you can easily complete 1 or even 2 lessons a day, however as we progressed I found that staying on one lesson for several days- sometimes a week, was very beneficial. Teaching your child to read is a big deal and it’s important to keep in mind it’s not a race. Just because your child’s peers are in a different place doesn’t mean you are doing a poor job. Each child’s journey to learning to read looks different. Make your goal for confidence and enjoyment. If your little is capable of reading Mrs. Piggle Wiggle in Kindergarten but hates reading, is that truly what you set out to accomplish?
I think the biggest idea to take away, no matter what book or curriculum you choose for reading, is to do it daily. Reading daily with your little and doing mini lessons daily will have a tremendous impact.
ABC Hear Do– These were perfect for an introduction to letter sounds. The interactive approach is excellent for teaching letter sounds in a way that they stick.
Everyday Learn + PLAY Calendars & Sight Word Sets– These were wonderful because I could adapt them to fit her need and she loved how fun they were! Themes go a long way to engage little ones.
Storytime at our Local Library– The simple act of getting your little around books makes a bigger impact than most of us realize. Give them freedom to pick out a-n-y children’s book that grabs their attention. Let them check out a whole pile. Build up excitement for new books and cycle them in and out frequently. Consider including story time in your school week. Giving your little opportunity to hear books from other adults enthusiastic about reading is wonderful!
BOB Books– Tiny books that pack a big confidence building impact. We didn’t use them but Dash Into Reading looks like another great starter set for new readers. These were fun for her to look through, read, and proudly share that she read a whole book all by herself! Confidence is a BIG part of the game when it comes to reading.
All About Reading Readers– These are available from our local library and my big girl LOVED that they were a collection of stories she could read at her level but put all together in a larger, hardcover format.
Family Read Aloud Time– We read about 1 chapter book a month. I typically read at different times throughout the day depending on what we had going on. Sometimes it was after morning basket, sometimes at lunch or snack, and sometimes even at night. Both my girls grew to love listening to stories and would even proclaim that I couldn’t stop. It was, “too exciting to stop!”
Here at the end of the school year she can comfortably read beginner books and her confidence grows daily! We continue to read together daily and we have daily read aloud time as well throughout the Summer!