Many mothers and fathers are questioning the once taken for granted practice of sending children off to kindergarten at age five. With homeschooling options readily accessible, some parents are considering teaching their child Kindergarten at home. Homeschool kindergarten is a natural extension of the previous years when the parent has been the child's primary teacher.

The Basics of Homeschool Kindergarten

One of the best books I know of for a quick and easy course on how to teach young children at home is the little book set, The 3 R's by Ruth Beechick. Mrs. Beechick gently explains the way children learn best and gives many examples of ways to teach writing, reading, and arithmetic in a home environment.

Dr. Ruth Beechick is a  talented teacher who believes that home is the best place for children to learn. She thinks that parents don't give themselves enough credit for being the best teachers for their children!  Every year New material for homeschoolers is introduced that  builds on Ruth  Beechick's wisdom. No matter what methods you decide to use in your homeschool, you'll be blessed by Ruth's advice and encouragement.

Many parents are nervous about teaching their child to read. They have been made to believe that you must have special training in order to teach your child to read. This simply is not true. Most children learn to read with ease, but there is not a set age for every child. It is so much better to back off if your child is not ready and continue to read aloud to your child until he/she is ready, even if it is years! So many children hate school because they did not learn to read quickly like other kids and all the feelings associated with that "failure" affect their whole perception of school learning. We don't want this to happen to our children.

Children are not items on an assembly line that are all exactly alike. They each have strengths and weaknesses and learning styles. The strength of homeschooling is in its individualization. We don't have to force a round peg into a square hole. Our children don't have to acquire a skill during the month or year that the teaching objectives require it. A child that would be on Ritalin or in a special class at "school" is perfectly able to learn at home with a program that suits his/her needs. This is true freedom in education and once you taste it, and see how your children thrive, and how the family can be home-centered and family-centered and learn together, traditional school just doesn't measure up.

Homeschool Phonics and Reading

So just like you taught your kids to speak (with very little effort), teaching them to read can be just as easy. You work it into your day. It's nice to have some scheduled time each day for phonics lessons and Mom reading aloud time, but by bring the phonics into everyday life makes it come alive.  Besides doing some basic phonics regularly with your child, ask your child to look out for words or letters in words that he can read. When your child discovers that he can sound some words out or that he knows what the letter sounds like, he will happily tell you what he can read. Your response should encourage him to keep looking and learning. Your happy praise will help him feel  successful and confident.

As you continue to teach letter sounds and short beginner words, try this:  When you read aloud to your child, ask him to read a word or sentence, now and then, as you read to him. Choose words or passages for him to read that will give him success in reading. Don't choose anything too difficult. If a child is having trouble with reading, ask him to read some parts of a book that is familiar because it has been read aloud many times. This can help a child make a good connection with the written word while he experiences some success in reading parts of the familiar story.

There are many Phonics Programs that work quite well to teach your child to read.  The following list is a good place to start.  Always research before you buy. Talk to other parents who are homeschooling and/or read homeschool reviews on each product. You know your child and you know yourself. Choose a program that fits your family well.

Some readers that may be helpful to develop reading fluency:

Homeschool Math in Kindergarten

Again, I urge you to get and read Ruth Beechick's 3 R's little books for so much can be learned without a set curriculum.  You don't really need a curriculum for kindergarten.

If your child likes workbooks, get a kindergarten or first grade workbook for your child to work through.

Using Math Manipulatives is the best way to learn math in kindergarten. I saved up milk carton tops; I had a whole bucket full of them. These were so handy for setting up addition and subtraction problems.  Have your child set the table.  You can talk to your child while you fix supper. "How many forks do you need? Well, how many people are in our family? Yes, and Susie is spending the night with her friend, so how many does that leave?" Simple addition and subtraction problems like this can be worked into everyday life and help a child learn how useful math is to living.

Some math curriculum that you might check out for early years of homeschool. All of these are popular curricula with homeschoolers. It comes down to choosing what fits you and your family best after talking to other parents and reading reviews.

Homeschool Handwriting

My children did not have pretty handwriting in kindergarten and I  didn't emphasize it to much either.  All five of my children have legible handwriting now and several of them have very neat handwriting.  Even though the children used the Italics Handwriting Style Curriculum for years, none of them writes in italics format exclusively. Each of them has developed his or her own style of handwriting that suits them.  I offer this observation to encourage new homeschool parents not to stress too much over handwriting that is not up to your standards.

My oldest son, Lane, was the guinea pig for home school. Maybe some of you have a homeschool guinea pig in your house (Poor Souls!!) Anyway, Lane couldn't print worth a toot at five years old and still couldn't at six. I wanted so much for him to succeed in homeschool so I began to research to learn how I could help him improve his writing. I learned that beginning with cursive may be helpful for children who have poor coordination for writing, so I decided to give it a try. I made my own practice book for him to copy the models that I set up for him in cursive.  I was amazed! He did so much better with cursive than with print. So cursive it was.  All through elementary school, Lane wrote successfully in cursive. We never went back to learning how to print. Some how, without being taught with a curriculum, Lane learned how to print all by himself when he was older. Now at 28, he prints more than he writes in cursive! Go figure!

My daughter started writing on her own after learning to read at an early age. She wrote in all CAPITAL letters and very LARGE. That was fine because she did it because she wanted to write a story or a letter, not because she had an assignment. It was totally voluntary. She later learned how to write lowercase letters and eventually learned cursive writing. Her handwriting was pretty sloppy until she was a preteen. Then she made a conscious effort to improve it.  My teaching in her instance was effortless and yet everything turned out great. She is now an aspiring author.

Other Homeschool Kindergarten Curricula to Look Into

Five in a Row-

This is a curriculum for young children based on reading the same book for five days. The first time you read a story, children simply want to discover what happens. But each day we peel back the story, learning to write using some of the techniques the story's writer has used or learning to draw or paint using some of the techniques, materials or palettes the illustrator has used. We learn more about the culture or setting where the story took place, etc. So with each new reading, the child can look at the illustrations, think about the cuisine or the architecture; appreciate the writing style, etc. Each day builds on the previous days learning experience. And each reading builds a bond with the book for your child so that they develop a deep and abiding love for each wonderful story. Then each time they read the story they'll recall and strengthen their grasp on the dozens of lessons learned from that
beloved book.

Other Homeschool Kindergarden Tips

Use the early years to concentrate on character development and spiritual development. In addition teach your children to work and have chore responsibilities. Obedience to parents and kindness to siblings and friends is more important than academics.

To conclude, I would like to encourage those of you that are new to homeschooling to make your kindergarten enjoyable to your child, without pressure. Children generally love the one-on-one time that they have with a parent and your teaching time should be special as long as you keep it short and unpressured. Give your children time if they are not ready to learn certain things yet. Back up and enjoy reading books to them. You DO NOT need to feel the pressure of the traditional school grade levels. Your children are unique and your homeschool is unique and individualized for you family. You are not competing with others.

Please leave a comment if you have any homeschool tips to offer.