Saturday, September 8, 2012

Three Keys to Homeschooling in Kindergarten

This year, for the fourth time, I started a new student in our homeschool.  Wesley is officially in Kindergarten this year.  So, I thought I would take some time to do a post on a few of the keys that I believe are important in formal education at this age.

First, here is a bit of background info on my journey and change of heart dealing with early education.

When I started homeshcooling I was so excited to start.  I had fond memories of homeschooling as a child and couldn't wait to start homeschooling my children.  My oldest was almost five, but not quite.  I had a three year old and one year old to juggle and jumped in with both feet.  It didn't take long to see that my oldest was not ready for formal education and I was not fostering a love for learning in him.  So, after just a few weeks, we put away the textbooks.

When the next year rolled around, I had more realistic expectations.  With a slight change of heart toward early education, I decided to lighten the load.  We studied Phonics, Math, and Handwriting several days a week which took about 45 min to an hour each time.  I then created my own theme units around the days of creation to study Science.  We took a month to study each day of creation.  We read books from the library, did experiments, created art projects, and went out in nature to examine God's creation.  This was a fantastic year, but it was still a bit much for him.

After following much the same method for the next two kids, I have had another slight change of heart.  I have seen the negative effects in my older children of more formal education in the early years than they were ready for.  I would like to avoid this with my younger children and also want to make learning as fun as it can be.

So, here are my three keys to homeschooling in Kindergarten.

1. Keep it simple.  There is really no reason teach secondary subjects to your Kindergarten child.  They may learn it and it can seem impressive but it really isn't in keeping with the development of that age.  A simple introduction to the basics of Math and Phonics is really sufficient and will create the basic foundation for later building blocks of learning.  Then, if there is a topic that they love such as animals you can add in great books, art, etc..  But, forcing the extras at an early age can create resentment toward learning that will rear it's ugly head in later years.

2. Keep it short.  At this age attention spans are usually very short.  If they are loosing interest it is a sign that it is time to move on to the next thing...even if you didn't get through your lesson...haha.  Developing a love for learning is more important than the amount of work that they do at this age.  Spending about 30 minutes  3 or 4 days a week is really plenty. I schedule an hour for Wesley because he has the desire and ability (that most of mine did not have at that age) to sit longer so that he can write and color his work thoroughly.  But, he is free to stop after 30 minutes and go play with Abby and the littles in the loft.  Whatever we don't get done in that 30 minutes can surely wait for the next day:)

3. Keep it hands-on.  Children of all learning styles still learn best at this age by actually doing things.  So, keep things as hands-on as possible.  Use Math manipulatives, games, Play-Doh, and puzzles as much as possible.  It is also a good idea to have a learning rich environment in your home where your Kindergartener can learn through games outside of the formal learning time.

Wesley will sit near and listen to the books that we read in the afternoon from "Rome to the Reformation".  But he will be on a mat with a game or puzzle to keep his little fingers busy.

I am always amazed by how much my little ones pick up from being near us while we do school.  I believe that they listen best when their fingers are busy:)

What things do you do to help your Kindergartener learn?

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