You've done it. You've made the decision. You are not sending your child to public school. You are keeping him home with you and you will be homeschooling for kindergarten. Now what?
Friends, you do NOT need to spend hundreds of dollars on homeschool curriculum for your kindergarten child. You do not need to spend 6-7 hours per day doing school with your child. Homeschooling kindergarten is not hard and is lots of fun! You don't even really "need" a curriculum at all, but if you are interested in buying one there are a lot of good options available.
I read a recommendation that children should work on a subject for no more than 2-2.5 times their age. I think this makes great sense and have been using it for a guideline. This means for kindergarten you should only plan on around 15 minutes per day for each subject. I am not a person that keeps rigid schedules, but children do thrive on routine and knowing what to expect. Plan a schedule that will allow your child to do his sit down work when he is at his best, not when he is tired or hungry. Make sure he knows that TV time is not until all school work is completed for the day. Don't allow interruptions (phone calls, answering emails etc..) when possible during school time. Knowing what to expect will make your days go much smoother both for you and your child.
My favorite curriculum choices for the three R's for kindergarten are:
Reading- All About Reading (*this is my affiliate link.) If your child already knows all their letter and sounds and are ready to start blending sounds, you can stat with Level 1. If they do not, you probably want to start with the Pre-1. I have seen and used a lot of different learn to read curriculum and this is my favorite.
Writing- My favorite handwriting is Handwriting Without Tears. They have workbooks, and different manipulatives that you can purchase. If you have an iPad, they also have an app for upper case letters and numbers practice.
Arithmetic- My favorite Math program is Math U See. It is a mastery based, hands on Math program. Using the manipulative blocks children have to the opportunity to build and understand Math. The first level is Primer.
What about the other subjects? For Bible we have for Kindergarten enjoyed the Egermeier's Storybook Bible and my ABC Bible Verses for Scripture memory. Bible Study Guide For All Ages has Beginner materials for ages 3-K that are very good.
For Science and History for this age, I like to pick a topic that the child is interested in, choose some great picture books on the subject, and add in some hands on projects. For instance, we did a study on Dinosaurs once (you can read a post on it here) using creation based picture books, and a free lapbook from www.homeschoolshare.com (they have a large variety of free lapbooks!). When my oldest son was in Kindergarten, he was fascinated with Knights and Castles, so we spent a lot of time reading picture books on Knights and Castles, doing coloring sheets and hands on activities. When we were interested in learning about plants, we got some books on seeds turning into plants and planted a container garden. With a library card, a few supplies, and the internet, you can spend the year diving into what interests your child.
My other favorite approach for teaching children this age is by using Five In A Row. Five in A Row is a guide that teaches Math, Science, Art, Bible, Social Studies, Geography, and Language Arts using great children's literature. You choose a book listed in the guide and read it to your child 5 days in a row. After reading the story, you choose an activity to complete. The book choices are wonderful, the activities are a lot of fun, and the prep time is pretty short (aside from gathering books and supplies), making Five In A Row a great, affordable curriculum for Kindergarten.
Children at this age are like little sponges. Everything is new and interesting to them. They learn best by doing and by watching people around them. It is a wonderful age! Involve your children in everyday activities. Let them help you with your housework. Children this age love doing chores (enjoy it, trust me it will wear off.) Let them fold laundry with you, set the table, dust, sweep, make the beds, clean up toys etc... It may take you longer to complete these chores, but it will be so worth it. Take your children on errands with you. Make them a grocery list they can check off at the store. Take them to the post office to mail a letter. Let them go with you to the bank and talk to them about money. Children can learn so much from real life experiences!
Age appropriate field trips are great for this age group too and there are so many places to choose from, even if you live in a small town. The zoo, aquarium, or pet store are all great field trips for children this age. Hands on discovery museums, theaters with age appropriate plays are good as well. How about a farm, greenhouse, pumpkin patch, or state park? Fun educational opportunities are endless.
Don't forget the importance of having outside time. Children this age need to run, jump, and play often. They are fascinated with nature and how things live and grow. Make time to be outside for a good portion of every day. Talk about the bugs, clouds, or birds that you see. Draw pictures of the flowers. Build castles in the sand. Have fun!
Read, read, and read some more. Children benefit greatly by being read to. Read picture books with your young children. Read both fiction and non fiction. You can even get them started with chapter books by reading a chapter aloud to them every day. Snuggle and cuddle over some great books. During times of the day where your child needs a rest (but doesn't really nap) or are playing quietly, or doing an art project, you can play audio books for them to listen to. www.booksshouldbefree.com is a great resource for free audio books. We have also enjoyed Narnia, The Sugar Creek Gang, Jonathan Park, and Adventures in Odyssey.
No matter what curriculum you choose, enjoy your time homeschooling your children! Not everyday will go as planned, the laundry and the dishes may pile up, mommy could end up needing to nap more than the child, but I promise you, it is so worth every moment! The look on their faces when they read for the first time, or learn to tie their shoes, or when they bring you a rock to add to your rock collection are priceless. Enjoy it and treasure every moment.