Are you frantically searching, “How do I start homeschooling kindergarten?!”
Or, “How many hours a day do you homeschool kindergarten?”
And, “What subjects do you need to teach in homeschool kindergarten?”
Or the ever present worry – “Will I go crazy trying to homeschool kindergarten?!”
I was asking the same questions not too long ago.
When I first started homeschooling, my oldest daughter was in first grade.
I knew that I had “cheated” a little bit by not starting with a kindergartener.
My oldest already had a strong foundation in several areas.
She could count to 100, skip count, understood the concepts of addition and subtraction, could read 100 sight words, and could write sentences.
Much more importantly, she understood the concepts of listening, waiting for her turn, and completing work without whining.
She was a breeze to work with.
As I looked at my younger 2 kids, I did worry about how easy or not easy it would be to homeschool them when they hit kindergarten.
Will they be receptive to this idea of reading, practicing handwriting, and doing math?
Or will they laugh at me and run away to play while I beg them to come back and play with the fancy math manipulatives I bought?
Homeschooling Kindergarten…the Struggle is Real
I am about to kick off our 4th year of homeschooling and I just put kindergarten in the books this past spring!
Truth be told, there were some rough days.
There were days where I wondered what I was doing, if they were learning anything, and if I was crazy.
But, that was mainly in the beginning.
Along the way, I stumbled onto some great homeschool kindergarten tips that I know will make all the difference in your year!
How to Homeschool Kindergarten: The 10 Best Tips!
1. Don’t Start Too Early
Many homeschooling parents make the mistake of starting a formal kindergarten curriculum too early.
The mentality always seems to be – the earlier the better!
And who doesn’t want to brag about everything that their 4 year old can do?!
Most traditional school systems do not admit kids that have not turned 5 by September. I happen to have two kids that have birthdays in late fall.
It would be easy to say, “Well, we homeschool, so I’ll just start anyways. I don’t want to waste an entire year.”
For some kids that would work okay…for awhile. But then the kid will likely hit an educational wall that they are not developmentally ready to get over.
Maybe they can’t comprehend place value, math facts, phonics, or writing multiple sentences.
Whatever they are struggling with will likely be fixed by 6 months or more of development…but what are you supposed to do in the meantime?
Does the kid feel defeated? Frustrated? Turned off from learning? Burned out from their too early start?
Why not give them that year to be a kid and start kindergarten with the rest of the world next fall?
Or why not wait 6 months and start kindergarten in the spring instead of the fall?
Either way, don’t push your kid too early in order to validate your teaching and the homeschool you’re running.
2. Let Them Pick!
Whenever my kindergartener is a little grumpy about doing school, I always try to find something that looks like a choice…but it’s really not.
I might say:
“Do you want to do math or reading first?”
“Do you want to use the yellow or princess pencil to write your answers?”
“Do you want to count with the purple blocks or the red blocks?”
The kindergartener feels like they had a say in what happened…but the truth is that every choice was to complete their schoolwork.
Be creative with your questions and watch your kid complete their schoolwork with a smile!
3. Make Everything a Game – As Much As Possible
If you find your kindergartener is really struggling with a concept, try to make it a game!
Here are some ideas:
Be a monster hiding under the table and pop out whenever your child skips over a number. See if your kid can count without the monster popping up!
Give your kid a block for every word they sound out/right answer they get. Tell them to try and build the tallest block tower they can!
Create a fake competition between them and a favorite stuffed animal. Have the stuffed animal give off the wall answers and let the child build confidence as they answer something closer to right.
For any memorization things, see if you can’t find a song on Youtube to help them learn it. Songs are such a fun way to memorize!
A huge favorite of ours: whenever a kid completes a task that was difficult for them, they start running out of the classroom. They know that mom is a hug monster and I will chase them until I tackle them (gently) to the ground and give them a big hug! They love and it really helps them to push through the hard moments.
Be original and keep the silliness factor high! You may feel ridiculous, but they will LOVE it!
4. Take Active Breaks. A Lot of Them.
Depending on the curriculum you’re using and the “squirminess” of your child, breaks will be a huge help.
I like to have a morning time with everyone together that covers Bible, our current read-aloud book, and another subject (science, art, music, or history).
Then we have an active break to do chores. The kids get up and move around emptying trashcans, pulling weeds, picking up their rooms, etc.
Then we come back together again and I do one subject (her choice) with my kindergartener. After that lesson, she gets another 10-15 minute break.
Then she does another subject. We continue in this pattern until she is done for the day.
It is never very difficult to get my kindergartener to come to the classroom because she knows she only has to sit for one subject at a time. This will not take “forever.”
It is important to emphasize being active on the breaks to your kindergartener. They need to get out their energy in order to focus and pay attention during lessons.
Sometimes I won’t even say my kid is on a break. I’ll just tell them to run circles around the living room until they’re ready for the next lesson.
Or maybe I’ll say we’re going to do a 10-minute dance party before we start the next subject.
For more ways to get your kids moving inside, check out 10 Indoor Recess Solutions for Homeschoolers.
****When your kindergartener is struggling to complete a lesson and you can see they are frustrated and their energy is low, tell them to stand up and run around the house for 5 laps, then do 20 jumping jacks, and then run around the house 5 more times. This movement (or any variation of this) helps tremendously to clear their mind, lift their mood, and help them to come back fresh to finish the lesson.
5. Give Them Positive Motivation Not Punishment
It would be a grave mistake to think you can threaten your kindergartener into finishing their work.
“Johnny, if you don’t finish your handwriting work, no TV for the rest of the day!”
This kind of negative punishment attitude will create a power struggle scenario that you do not want to deal with. Especially as they get older.
Your homeschooler will dread school, and you will too.
So what are you supposed to do?
At every turn, find a positive way to motivate your child.
“Don’t forget, when you finish your work you get to pick out one of those cool stickers to put on it!”
That kind of attitude will get you miles further with a 5-year-old.
I motivate my kids with a sticker chart on our wall. When they finish their work for the day with a good attitude, they pick out a sticker for the chart. After 5 days, they pick out a special treat from our treat box as a reward for all their hard work.
6. Watch Your Language
I’m not talking about profanity here – although definitely don’t use those words either – ha!
If you grew up in a traditional school setting, you likely used a lot of negative talk about school and didn’t even realize it was happening.
Maybe you heard or said a lot of things like:
“Yes, it’s finally the weekend!”
“Ugh, school is tomorrow. I hate Mondays.”
“Yes, it’s a snow day – no school!”
I know these sound really innocent, but they subtly say that school is boring, and not doing school is way better.
Can you imagine your traditional school teacher using the above sentences? Probably not.
It would be pretty shocking!
Remember that as a homeschool teacher, you are setting the tone for the attitude about school.
Don’t say things like:
“Hurry up already, so we can be done with school for the day.”
“Ugh, let’s get going so we can get this over with.”
“Yay! It’s Friday, we’re almost done with school for the week.”
Bottle all that up and share it with your friends, spouse, or your coffee cup – but not your kindergartener.
7. Laugh Instead of Yelling
Yes, there will be times that you want to yell at your kindergartener.
Your patience will be shot, and you’ll start to feel anger welling up. Your instinct will be to yell, snap, or use rapid speech to get your kindergartener to comply.
When there is tension in the room and you feel anger coming on, recognize it, and do the opposite of yelling – laugh!
Kindergarteners are an easy crowd, so they’ll laugh at just about anything.
Pretend to fall out of your chair and say someone must have put slippery slime on it.
Say someone should call the doctor (in an overly serious voice) because your kid’s face is stuck in a silly position (when they’re sad, mopey, angry).
Pretend you saw a tiny dragon baby running across the table.
And my personal favorite: “I’m glad that you’re sad/angry. I don’t like happy children. They annoy me. In fact, I forbid you to laugh or even smile. What is that?! I said no smiling! Stop it this instant!”
My kids are usually rolling on the floor at this point. Every. Time.
Laughter for kids is like magic. It breaks through the walls they’ve set up because they’re frustrated, overwhelmed, or angry. It helps them to reset and come back to the table fresh.
It also helps to diffuse your own tension and frustration as an adult.
So the next time you feel tension rising – laugh! See how it changes the energy in the room immediately and completely alters the course of your homeschool day.
8. Keep the Days Short
Homeschool kindergarten should not last more than 1-2 hours per day.
Seatwork should not go beyond 1 hour – and that would be pushing it.
If you have a great read-aloud book, a cool art project, or a fun science experiment going on then you might see that time stretch a little longer.
But for the most part, do not push your kid to go beyond 1-2 hours of school per day. In the one-on-one setting of homeschool, it is just not necessary (and maybe detrimental) to go any longer than that.
Kids at this age desperately need gross motor play, pretend time, park time, outside time, and friend time – just as much as they need school time.
To help you prioritize your homeschool routine, remember that reading, writing, and math are the core subjects you want to cover every day. Everything else is considered enrichment.
The enrichment subjects are important, but not worth keeping a fussy, squirmy kindergartener in their seat longer than they can developmentally handle.
9. Read Until You Can’t Read Anymore
A huge piece of kindergarten is learning to read and instilling a love of books in children. One of the best ways you an do that is to make sure you set aside time to read for at least 30 minutes a day to your kid.
This reading time will increase their attention span, expand their imagination, and give them a strong desire to learn to read themselves (like mom does!).
Some ideas to get your reading time up:
Go to the library every week and pick up new books – variety keeps the kids interested!
Read during meal and snack times. Kids are more likely to sit still and be quiet while eating.
Pick out a chapter book that has been made into a movie. Kids (even little ones!) love the idea of being able to “see” the story in a movie after the book is complete. Here is a list of our favorite 25 read aloud books that have been made into movies.
Involve dad! Kids are always so excited to climb into dad’s lap and listen to stories. This is an area he can easily step into homeschooling and help you out!
Put your TV and tablets in a storage closet for a while. Yep, I did that, and its probably one of the best things I’ve ever done in my homeschool. Check out my crazy mom moment here – Screen Time Struggles: The Game Changer that Saved My Homeschool.
10. Post a Daily Routine So Your Kid Knows When They Are Done For the Day
All homeschooling parents want their kids to fall in love with learning.
But the reality is that some days kids just want to know, “Are we done yet?!”
My kids love having their scheduled posted every day so they know what needs to be finished for the day to be done.
At first I thought this was something only my oldest daughter would appreciate, but I quickly found out that my younger kids also thrived on a posted schedule.
What does that look like exactly?
In our homeschool, I use routine cards that have all of our subjects on them.
I post the subjects for the day on our whiteboard and make small notes next to the cards about what we’re going to do today.
As we finish each subject, my kids get to turn over that subject on the whiteboard.
Here is be a sample of kindergarten routine cards in our whiteboard:
You could make cards like this for your whiteboard or fridge. Or you could write your subjects on a piece of paper and have your kid cross them out as they go along with their homeschool day.
Recap How to Homeschool Kindergarten + Free Printable!
There you have it!
My top ten tips to show you how to homeschool kindergarten – with confidence and skill!
You can absolutely do this – and do it well, Homeschool Mama.
I have started this blog exactly for people like you – to get you started and keep you going on your homeschool journey!
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