Homeschooling Kindergarten

Posted on August 9, 2011 by


At the beginning of my son’s kindergarten year, we didn’t really know what we were going to do. We’ve slowly, but surely, fallen into a system that works well-enough for our family. I’d like to share it with you all today, so that you get an idea of typical homeschooling-life with young children.

Schedule

The plan varies from week-to-week, depending upon the materials we’ve collected, the projects or excursions we’ve planned, and our appointments. So we decide on Sunday night what the lessons are going to be, write them down in detail in a simple lesson book, and assign them to the various weekdays in a card-schedule. We turn over a card (which has a picture on it, corresponding to the subject) after every completed assignment. That helps give my son a feeling of accomplishment, and discourages him from dwaddling. It also helps remind us when we didn’t get to something, so that we can finish it up on another day or add it to the next week’s assignments.

Twice a week we have co-op, but on the days when we are home our lessons consist of:

  • 10 minutes: reading aloud and narration from a children’s classic in English (usually one chapter)
  • 10 minutes: reading aloud and narration from a children’s classic in German
  • 15 minutes: English or German copywork (we read through the selection together, then he copies it out)
  • 10 minutes: math or logic (we supplement with board games or card games, and manipulatives like dice, dominoes, geometric shape tiles)
  • 30-60 minutes: reading aloud from books about our elective subjects, or working on a related project (art, saint’s studies, history, geography, science)

So that makes 45 minutes of core-studies and 30-60 minutes of electives per day, with additional time for completing any homework for co-op. The electives, German readings, and occasional Bible-study are usually done in the evening with Daddy. The co-op focuses on other stuff like Latin, Spanish, music, geography, and art. He also attends Catechism class at the church. That’s about it.

If we find that assignments no longer fill the entire alloted-time, we don’t add more work. Instead we move on to more-advanced material. I used to worry that this wasn’t “enough time” spent on formal studies, but my son manages to fill the day with other interesting activities (LEGOs, play dough, painting, playing outside or with his sister, video games, helping with housework, etc.), so adding more seat-work would be a net-loss for him. We know he’s “on grade-level” by checking our state’s curriculum guidelines.

Documentation

In our state, we’re required to document all of the learning that goes on at home. To accomplish that, we’ve bought a 2-inch binder to use as a portfolio. We bring that portfolio, along with our school books and lesson plan, with us to the school district’s biannual reviews. In it we put:

  • stubs or brochures from excursions (with the date we attended written on top),
  • all written work and co-op results,
  • and photographs of projects or nature-study.

For larger projects or excursions we like to make a photo-collage on the computer with subtitles, showing the steps we used in our work.

Unit Studies

Kindergarten is less formal than the elementary grades, so we enjoyed using this year to do some interesting unit-studies. These are structure by topic, rather than by subject, and they flow more naturally than the formal studies. I didn’t have any concrete plans when we began each one, we just thought up interesting things to do or read about as we went along.

We did three, each centering around a specific book and lasting three months:

  1. Charlotte’s Web. We learned about the different farm animals and took a trip to a local farm. We read several picture-books about spiders, made a spider’s web out of string, and then checked out the spider and insect exhibit at a local zoo.
  2. King Arthur (using the Hudson Talbott series). We studied castle-design, read about knights, made a model castle out of LEGO’s, cooked a medieval dinner, and took him to the Medieval Times for his birthday.
  3. Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy. This one centered on historical and modern Japan, ships and boats, whales, the California Gold Rush, volcanic islands, and calligraphy with paint brushes. We also made our own sushi and drank green tea, and then went to a Teppanyaki restaurant.
Posted in: Education