If you missed part 1 of my new Homeschooling Kindergarten series, you can find it here. I talked about what subjects I cover with my littlest homeschool student.
In this post, I’m going to talk about the public school mentality. Maybe you were homeschooled yourself, so this isn’t as big of a stumbling block for you. But if you attended public school, you probably have a bit of that structure ingrained in you as what school is ‘supposed’ to be. I know that I did when we started back in 2006.
Now don’t get me wrong – there is nothing inherently bad about having a room in your home set up with desks and a chalk board. There’s nothing wrong with a scheduled day and having achievable goals set for your school year. There’s not a thing wrong with workbooks, circle time or the occasional spelling test! The problems start when homeschoolers forget why they’re homeschooling. It’s not just to avoid the big, bad school system. We want to teach our children to love learning. We are not homeschooling to teach our children just to take tests, sit quietly at their desks or raise their hands when they want to speak. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things. But we can’t let them be our goals.
Having the freedom to homeschool is a gift that we should not take lightly. Homeschooling kindergarten is not just another year ‘off’ before the real school starts. There is work to be done! The main objective is worth repeating – teach your little ones to love to learn. Teaching a 5 or 6 year old that learning is exciting will serve them well for the rest of their days. Find the topics they are interested in. Make a word list from that topic and have them learn to write and spell from that. Count everything! Research the hows and whys. Take lots of field trips. Let them see how they can enjoy learning rather than just seeing the workbook in front of them.
So how does this look practically? Many states have homeschooling laws that require reports on what your student has learned. So just take good notes! At the end of each week, write down in a notebook or planner what you’ve accomplished. Trips to the grocery store or farmer’s market, field trips, educational television shows, art projects – it all “counts” as learning! Teach them to talk to people everywhere you go, how to carry on a conversation and speak politely to an adult. All useful, needed life skills. There will probably be some workbook pages but there will definitely be lots of life-living in there too. Take lots of notes.
When my oldest daughter was 5 and 6, I would just write the dates on the top of each workbook page as my little ones completed them. Then when I needed to fill out our quarterly reports, I could just flip through their book to see what was done when. As far as history and science, keep a log of the library books you’ve read and the field trips you’ve taken. I also kept track of any large projects we completed. For example, one year we followed the changes in the trees on our street. Leaf samples were glued to poster board. A cross section of the different layers of the truck was drawn and labeled. We made a chart listing how many trees of each species were on our street and took note of when they started turning colors or their leaves started to grow back. We tried to estimate how old the trees were and what the town looked like when they were planted. It lasted all school year and we had a blast.
Did my kindergartener and tag-a-long preschooler learn that year? You bet they did. We continued learning in this style for a couple of years and we enjoyed every minute of it. They learned to read and add and how to cross the street and division and how to finish their work and all the other things we think of when young elementary students come to mind. But they did it while having fun. Listening to them now, as they’re heading into high school and middle school, as they talk about those young years is so rewarding. They loved their little life! And in the midst of all their fun and adventure, they learned. So if you’re struggling with letting go of your public school mentality, let your little one lead you for a bit. Watch them learn to love learning and you’ll see that there is another way. And it’s much more enjoyable. 😉
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