I can vividly remember the odd panic I felt attending a playgroup in 2015 during the week that my son would have been starting kindergarten. A circle of mainly well-intentioned mothers starting peppering me with questions.
How will you do math?
What about socialization?
How long are you going to do this?
How are you going to teach all the subjects?
What about high school?The questions they asked were so silly! But I remember asking similar questions of a friend who was planning to homeschool her then-preschooler. I was curious and interested to learn more about this so-called homeschooling!
Four years later and I'm only feeling more confident in our decision to homeschool and more sure of my ability to make plans that are appropriate for my children and our family.
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Kindergarten has always been a very laid back affair in our house. For all of my children it has meant morning time, several family read alouds, tabletop gaming, and AYSO soccer. For my firstborn, it was also 5-minutes of copywork per day, plus lots of free reading for him, hikes, many tabletop games, a once a week meetup with another 5 year old boy, some Kumon worksheets for fun and lots of math (Life of Fred and Khan Academy) that he begged to do daily.
For my second son, kindergarten was morning time plus lots of playing with his younger sister, lots of outdoor time and time helping in the kitchen, tabletop games, and a little voluntary academic work like Kumon worksheets, Khan academy, and some prereading activities like learning most of his letters.
But this third time around is different. I am much busier than I was the first two times. There is no close in age sibling for my daughter to play with for hours. And we are so much more confined to the house--at home for lessons in the morning and for a nap in the afternoon. I also feel that I could have done a little (and I do mean just a little) more work on prereading with my son to prepare him for true reading lessons when he was 6 and in first grade.
In light of these limitations and my past experience, I decided to actually plan some time for my kindergartner this year instead of just straight up unschooling as I had done in the past. However, participation is entirely voluntary in any of our activities :-)
Special Morning Time
Every morning, after breakfast and our family morning time, I have a few minutes to get my head straight before I try to sit down with Sylvia on the couch for about 20 minutes. At this time, we do another morning time but just for her . . . even though her 7-year-old brother or the baby tag along sometimes. Most days it looks like:
- Singing a song - We are working through the seasonal songs in Early Childhood from Legends of the Staff of Musique [free!] which is awesome because it actually provides an audio file of the author singing the songs!
- Reading one new book per week. Booklist below!
- Learning a poem/nursery rhyme - I printed off the selections from the Wee Folk Art Spring Bs, Harvest Time, Winter Wonderland, and Puddles and Ponds Curriculum and I just pick one to read a few times every day. At this rate, Sylvia will memorize about 2-3 short poems every 6 weeks without even trying! She will be excited to share her poems at our family poetry tea that happens after every 6-week chunk of lessons.
- Reading from some other books--some new, some old, some reading just a chapter a day, some reading the entire thing in one sitting.
Afterward, I often give her the option to draw a picture inspired by our reading. She is usually eager to do this (something her brothers were NEVER interested in!) and sometimes the pictures relate to the readings and sometimes they don't. She sometimes chooses to work in one of her Kumon workbooks at the table during the boys homeschool lessons and drifts in and out of lessons, always participating in singing, and sometimes joining us for German (especially when it is a song), composer study, and natural history, but otherwise occupying her self with puzzles, imaginative play, or spending time with our kitten or her baby brother.
We all eat lunch together and she listens along to the two lunchtime read alouds--currently Black Beauty and The Jungle Book.
Afternoon Time for Crafting and Learning Together
In the afternoon, I also make another 10-20 minutes period of time immediately after the baby goes down for his nap to spend time with Sylvia. (Sidenote: I miss those days when naptime was my time! But it does bring me pleasure to spend some special time with my girl!) During this time, we do activities like
- work on a craft or art project I have selected for the week, usually related to our weekly book or the seasons (see booklist below), or we finish up a craft project from a previous week!
- work through a letter book, or play with a moveable alphabet
- make something in the kitchen
- work in the yard together
- play a game
Kindergarten Booklist with Projects and Activities
Below are the books and projects I have planned to share with Sylvia this school year. To keep costs low, I shopped my own shelves first for books and art supplies. And although I did splurge on one special book to add to our collection [$4.19 from Thriftbooks] the rest are free ebooks, borrowed from the library, or we already owned them. To make sure I remember to get the library books on time, I place all my book requests at the beginning of the school year and set them to activate about 10 days before I want to use them.
I also spent about $50 on supplies for arts and crafts for the whole family, including things like new poster paints, fresh markers, air dry clay, washi tape, and embroidery hoops.
Song of the Water Boatman / Water Boatman art project from Over and Under the Pond
Once Upon a Starry Night / Night sky drawing with white pencil on black paper
Cut-Out Fun with Matisse / Cut-out art project with bright card stock
Zoo in the Sky / Constellation embroidery
The Monarch Butterfly / Make caterpillar out of air-dry clay and paint
The Planet Gods / Paint rocks to represent each planet
One Day in the Woods / Nature loom
Squirrels in the Garden / Sun prints
Ox-cart Man / Make pom poms
A first look at spiders / Spin a spider web on sticks
Ketzel the Cat who Composed / Music at an art prompt
The tree on the road to Turntown / Leaf suncatchers
Gabriella's Song / Leaf wreath
Four Puppies / Leaf chalk pastels
Perrault's Fairy Tales / Thankful bunting
Perrault's Fairy Tales (continued) / Make fairy peg dolls
Stopping by the Woods / Tin can lantern and take them for a night walk from Winter Wonderland
Christmas books (week 1) / Lucet wreathes
Christmas books (week 2) / Make Christmas gifts
How Much is a Million? / Ghungroo project from Early Childhood from Legends of the Staff of Musique [free!]
The Year at Maple Hill Farm / Make ice wreath for birds with cranberries in a bundt pan from Winter Wonderland
The Mitten / Tape resist snowflakes
Winter Trees / Pinecone birdfeeders
The Cookie Store Cat / Bake something together
Catwings / Heart Suncatchers
Catwings Returns / Heart love catchers
The Dutch Twins (finish over the course of several weeks)/ Go ice skating
Mole Music / Embroidery hoop instrument from Early Childhood from Legends of the Staff of Musique [free!]
The Goat Lady / Try goat milk (something Sylvia's been asking to do!)
One Day in the Desert / Paint a desert scene together
The Boy Who Drew Birds / Select and color some birds from free Cornell feeder bird coloring book
Who lives in this house? A story of animal families / Build a nest challenge
Geraldine the Music Mouse / Tissue paper flowers
Milk / Make butter
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