The joy in homeschooling preschool and kindergarten is that you are free to tailor your educational system to the needs of your family. In other words, you are free to do whatever you want!
If homeschool is something you are interested in, I encourage you to read about homeschooling styles to see the general direction you and your family want to take. We like the classical approach to homeschool. We also like Charlotte Mason’s approach and certain things of Montessori. We like Waldorf’s approach to art, nature and poetry, so we use some of that in our homeschool, too. I compiled a list of books for the parents of preschoolers and kindergarteners. I believe that The Well-Trained Mind is a number one book to read for every parent who is considering homeschool.
I think the early years are mostly about sensory development, so in our homeschool preschool we mostly play with sensory tubs, play with simple wooden toys and Montessori toys, which encourage imagination development. We tell stories, read many books in two languages, go to story time at the library, learn letters and numbers through playful sensory activities and work on vocabulary. We also severely limit electronics in our home, as children are active by nature and passive sitting in front of a television does not help their development. We work on their vocabularies by asking playful questions, like: “What kind of bird was that? Was it big or small ? Red or blue or brown? Were its feathers soft? Was it a sparrow?” We sing and memorize songs. We memorize poetry ( one line at first, multiple poems later.) This work continues onto the kindergarten year. Read more on homeschool preschool here.
My son just turned five and he is done with kindergarten. I think the most important things for a kindergardener to master are: reading, writing, arithmetics. Everything else is just an icing on the cake. If the child can read well, learning becomes a lot easier later.
In our homeschool, every day has a general theme. Monday, for example, is the day of art, while Tuesday is the day of nature. So, after we are done with the general reading-writing-math program, every Monday we spend 15 minutes studying the works of a great painter and then paint. Draw, Write Now is a wonderful program to help your kids draw well. We use it a lot. On Tuesdays, we take a nature walk and then my 5 year old writes about it in his nature journal. It helps him work on his writing and spelling. Nature Connection book helps us study and understand nature as well.
Because of the fact that our home is bilingual, we do most of the work in two languages ( English and Russian.) We used the following resources for reading and writing in English:
This a wonderful book that teaches your child to read using a phonics approach. I think this is the only book you need to teach your child to read. To practice reading, we used Bob’s Books and many readers from the library.
To work on language and reading, I read a lot to kids during the day. Recently, we started practicing narration, which is a child repeating back to you in their own words, what you just read to them ( or what they just read themselves.) Narration is a tremendous training tool for the mind.
My kids are also constantly listening to audiobooks, which tremendously increases their vocabularies and knowledge, while occupying them better than a TV set. My 5 year old has already listened to many works of classical literature for kids as well as to a children’s encyclopedia and he loves doing that while building with his Legos.
For writing letters, I keep things simple. I show my child how to write a letter. Then, my child writes a page or two of each letter until he is good at writing letters. We started with printed letters and are now almost done working on cursive. Then, he writes everything he can write. If he wants to tell me a story, I ask him to write it and put it in a sealed envelope, like a letter. He writes our grocery list. He writes thank you notes and letters to friends. He copies great books. If he likes a book, I make him copy a few sentences or a few paragraphs from it into his notebook, keeping all the punctuation marks. He works on Montessori moveable alphabet. All of these activities improve his writing and spelling. He does his copy work daily. Prescripts: Cursive Letters and Coloring is a fun book to work with to learn cursive writing.
Once a week, on Fridays ( Friday is the day of literature for us) we memorize a new poem or a story. Memory work is a foundation for all other work, so we take memorization very seriously.
We work on reading and writing daily, 7 days a week. Right after breakfast, my son does his writing exercise for the day and then he reads aloud a small book or a few chapters of a book. He, of course, is free to do more reading and writing throughout the day if he so desires.
While my 5-year old and I are working on reading and writing, my almost 3-year old twins are playing with a sensory tub or doing a craft I had assigned for them to do. They now know how to count to 20; they know all letters of the Russian alphabet and can sing their ABC’s.
For math, we are using The Life Of Fred curriculum. This curriculum presents math as an alive subject, which is part of a story, so kids learn complex mathematical concepts without understanding that they are actually learning. They just have fun with it. We work on math 6 days a week, usually in the afternoons. We are also using Singapore Math curriculum and work on that twice a week, in the mornings. We love Montessori math materials and play with them a few times a week. We love this wooden math game and play with it once a week, on Wednesdays.
We work on history once a week, using The Story of The World and its corresponding audiobook and its workbook. The Story of The World presents history as a story, which is exactly what kids want and need. Reading this book makes historical events come alive and coloring and doing projects in the workbook only makes it more interesting. My 5 year old memorizes all of the important events from the history book and tells them back to me after every lesson.
For geography, we study maps. Whenever we read or hear about a certain place, we find it on the map and discuss it. We also work on Montessori geography puzzles and read encyclopedias.
In the afternoons, we do arts, crafts and scientific experiments from 75 Science Experiments to Amuse and Amaze your Friends.
Generally, it takes us between 45 minutes to 2 hours a day, 6-7 days a week to homeschool kindergarten. We work year-round, with no break for the summer, which does not prevent us from being social or active. If we go to the pool with friends in the morning, we practice our reading and writing earlier. If my son goes to camp in the morning, he listens to his audiobooks and practices his reading, writing and math in the afternoon.
My son also takes music, Spanish and Chinese language lessons weekly.
Next year, we will keep on working on the same things as well as add more science now that he is reading well.