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I can’t tell you how many times people ask me what the best homeschool curriculum for young children is.   I know exactly what they are asking and it’s a great deal more than what book should I use.  They want a guide.  A mentor.  A “how to book”.  An insurance policy.  They want to know they can do this and how to do it.  They want to know homeschooling kindergarten is going to be ok.  And really, it is.  But not because of any one perfect homeschool curriculum. 

You know what the key to successful homeschooling kindergarten is?  In a concrete sense it’s mostly about leaving a variety of “resources” strategically around the house and offering kids a loose framework to guide them through the resources.  In a philosophical sense it’s about simply allowing the child to learn which is exactly what they are wired to do.  Don’t mess that up with workbooks and objectives and standards too quickly.

But what does that look like in real life?

This is where you are really going to get annoyed with me—homeschooling kindergarten looks vastly different for almost every single child.  I realize how “not” helpful that is to hear, but it really is true.  You really have to figure it out for yourself and for each of your children.  That being said I am going to pass on my baseline educational philosophy for homeschooling a 3-6 year old child.  In following this process you will come into your own and grow to understand what works and what doesn’t.  Your child’s job is to explore and discover and your job is to observe that process closely and learn how your child learns. 

Simple Steps to Homeschooling Kindergarten and Preschool

  1. Choose some themes.  These can and should be guided by your child’s interests.  Depending on your child’s attention span a theme can last anywhere from a week to a month, but the key is that each on interests your child and you.  You need to be sure you aren’t bored either.  Use one of the resources listed below if you need inspiration.
  2. Go to library.  Check out every book  you can find on the theme.
  3. Find a spine.  A spine for early childhood is a book that includes both informational text as well as craft ideas.  I will give some suggestions below. 
  4. Choose some projects in the spine to do with your child.  Their input matters, but before you ask for input be sure you are open to doing the project yourself. 
  5. Make a shopping list and go shopping for project supplies.  This is a great day to take your child out to lunch and make shopping day special.
  6. Decide on any related field trips.  One or two a week is good.  If you run out of related field trips just add in random ones (art museums, theatre, ballet, musical performances and anything along those lines are excellent add ins—it’s never too early to build some cultural knowledge of the arts), but just be sure you are getting out and about the real world at least once a week.
  7. Buy a large container of counting bears, pattern tiles, a ruler, and colored beads.  Also get some skip counting music.  And duplos, legos or unifix cubes.  See the resources below. For more information on math see this post.
  8. Get a series of birds/wildlife/wildflower/butterfly/tree identification books or cards for your area.
  9. Make a routine. 
    • Everyday read to your child (at least one hour per day broken down into time segments appropriate for your child’s attention span)
    • Everyday (15-30 minutes) work briefly on the letters of the alphabet (pick one a week) until they know it well then start a gently reading and writing program when they are ready. (see resources below)  
    • Everyday do math (15-30 minutes) Stay tuned for details. In my next post I will go into detail about math)
    • Everyday do some active play like climbing trees, go to park, ice skating, sledding, etc (30 minutes to 1 hour)
    • Once a week do nature study and simply take a walk out in nature and use nature guides to identify trees/plants/birds etc.  (30 minutes to 1 hour or longer) Also keep a journal with drawings and observations
    • Once a week (or twice if you are craftsy) do a project
    • Once a week (or twice if possible) take a field trip/outing
    • Everyday do some quiet time (children sit alone in a set place—on the sofa or in bed—and “read” to themselves, color or listen to music for a full hour working up to two hours)
    • Everyday have clean up time. 
    • Also add in time for good habits and values like Bible reading or prayer or the Pledge of Allegiance.

But how much time does this take each day?

Your routine should adapt as you learn the ways in which your child learns best. Here is a sample of what your week might look like.  I deliberately didn’t add in times because each day might be slightly different depending on your child’s attention span and what activities you have planned. This is more a routine and note a schedule, but I know you want to have a general idea of how to implement this so as a guide writing (or letters)/math should be fifteen minutes to half an hour each.  Unless your field trips/projects take a long time quiet time should usually start around 1PM if you start at 8AM. This can and should change. If your child is tired let them sleep. If your project is involved skip some of the other stuff. Just make it work and go with the flow.  

For mothers who work you can adjust it to fit your schedule, but my only advice is put the time in with the kids when they first wake so they aren’t nagging you for attention. When my kids were little I would get started with my work at 5AM so that I could get in a good three hours before my children woke up and then work again starting at quiet time in the afternoon.  Really, if you give your child 100% first thing in the morning for several hours then afternoons will be much quieter.  I always said when my kids were younger that they were so sick of me by noon that they just leave me alone for the rest of the day.   

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
Prayer timePrayer timePrayer timePrayer timeBreakfast
Reading/WritingReading/WritingReading/WritingReading/WritingReading/Wiritng
MathMathMathMathMath
Active PlayActive PlayActive PlayActive PlayActive Play
Nature StudyProjectField TripFree TimeFree Time
LunchLunchLunchLunchLunch
Clean UpClean UpClean UpClean UpClean Up
ReadingReadingReadingReadingReading
Quiet TimeQuiet TimeQuiet TimeQuiet TimeQuiet Time
A typical week homeschooling a 3-5 year old

I swear this is exactly the system I used homeschooling kindergarten with each of my kids and they can all read and write and pass algebra. One was a very early reader and the others were more average. Some struggled in math and others loved it all the way through. In the end, each kid was different and I adjusted the routine accordingly, but it all started here with this basic homeschooling kindergarten system. I promise with love and patience this works.

General Resources

Reading Resources

Math Resources

Suggested Next Reads:

About Mary

Mary Stephens is a long time homeschooling mother of four: two still at home, one in seminary and one graduated from college. Mary holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Passionate about both travel and education she offers homeschooling tips and tricks as well as free travelschooling units on her website penciltreks.com. Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

9 Comments

  1. audrey on July 28, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    This is such great advice for homeschooling really young kids. Thank you so much!

  2. Katie Frazier on July 28, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    I love your insight! Hands on crafts and field trips are a wonderful way to teach kids and have fun!

  3. brandy on July 28, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Those are pretty realistic ideas for pre-school and kindergarten age kids. I have a 2 year old that I think I could start some of these things on now for in the future. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mary on August 2, 2020 at 9:09 am

      Yeah, I think it is so important to give kids a good foundation in a fun and relaxed way. So many kids get stressed out by kindergarten pressure and it is SO unnecessary. Just give them a positive language rich learning environment with some fun math games and they will flourish!

  4. Angelika on July 28, 2020 at 11:15 pm

    I love the field trip ideas! I’m going to use some of these! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Dana on July 29, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    Excellent ideas! They seem to be deciding everywhere to start virtual school so this is very helpful.

    • Mary on August 2, 2020 at 9:06 am

      Yeah, I think with the different ways schools are dealing with the pandemic many people need help coming up with their own homeschooling program. I am hoping this will help them.

  6. Katie Frazier on July 30, 2020 at 11:51 pm

    This is such a great post because so many moms are having to unexpectedly homeschool this year! This will help tremendously!

    • Mary on August 2, 2020 at 9:05 am

      I can’t imagine having to homeschool at the last minute out of desperation like this. That’s part of why I posted this. I am trying to get as much info out there to make it a bit easier on people.

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