Kindergarten is the HARDEST! (Part 1)

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When I decided to write my first blog on homeschooling Kindergarten, I couldn’t even imagine the emotions that it would stir inside of me. As I sit here writing my experiences and my story, I realize with some sadness and a whole lot of shock that my youngest child, my fifth born, the baby of the family, is…

IN FIRST GRADE!!!!

I need a moment! HAHA!

I didn’t even think about it at first but now the realization that I will never homeschool Kindergarten again is very real! At least the odds are very low since there are no more little Keiths after our first grader.

I’ve been homeschooling for 18 years and although it feels like a lifetime ago when I started, it also feels like I’m at the very beginning also… because I am!

So here I am ~ attempting to write this blog ~ my brain is literally exploding with so many thoughts and ideas that I can’t get it out fast enough but at the same time…

…I don’t know where to start or what to say!

 

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SO HERE IT GOES:

Simple ideas to make homeschooling Kindergarten EASIER (PART 1)!

Homeschooling isn’t hard but it isn’t easy either. When I hear moms struggling with their Kindergartener while homeschooling, I always tell them…

KINDERGARTEN IS THE HARDEST!

I hear more questions related to teaching Kindergarten than I do any other grades. I have homeschooled 5 kids and two of them have graduated from being homeschooled.

That means ~ 5 years of teaching Kindergarten ~ (if I’m doing the math correctly haha) ~ to 5 completely different children and personalities.

So if you’re struggling with Kindergarten, don’t worry, I can honestly say that it definitely gets easier.

Here’s the thing:

No one gets intimidated when thinking about teaching Kindergarten and no one would ever question your ability to teach that magical grade. But once the ideas are all on paper, lesson plans and curriculum all figured out, and you sit down to teach your little one, that’s when it hits…

It’s not as easy as it sounds!

I’ve had kids in high school and junior high while I was also teaching one in Kindergarten (happened twice! Ha!). And I usually have someone make a comment about how they can’t imagine how hard it is to homeschool high school. I always say that high school is a piece of cake; it’s Kindergarten that’s hard!

Don’t get me wrong… IT IS A LOT OF FUN TOO!!

Homeschooling Kindergarten keeps life in perspective especially when you have teenagers in the house.

THE POWER OF PRAYER

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Before I go any further, I want say something important…

Pray every day for your children and your homeschool. Find encouraging verses in the bible and pray those for your family! My life, my family and my homeschool are forever changed and blessed because I pray regularly for them. Draw close to God every day through prayer and daily bible reading. Pray for your children, your family, for wisdom and for joy! This is a short and simple paragraph but the most IMPORTANT part of your day!!

Keep it simple!

The truth is:

There is a lot of curriculum and products out there especially for Kindergarten and I’ve bought some of them. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money on Kindergarten. You don’t have to spend a lot of money period but especially Kindergarten. They’re just learning the basics and they’re learning how to “do school.”  An easy way to get started for free is by checking out books from the library and read to your child A LOT. Keep it simple!

Set your schedule according to your child’s needs but also set it to what your needs are too

When you’re planning your curriculum and your schedule, keep in mind what your child’s personality is like. Some kids love writing, drawing, coloring and doing workbooks while other kids won’t sit down for 2 seconds in a chair. Usually, by this point, you know what your child likes and dislikes. Some things you will know ahead of time what will work and won’t work for you and some things you will learn along the way by trial and error. Don’t be afraid to try something and then change it up because it didn’t work for you or your child hated it (or should I say because it didn’t work for your child and YOU HATED IT.) That’s another reason why it’s probably not a good idea to spend a lot of money on Kindergarten curriculum unless you really want to use something and you know for a fact that it is what you all will love.

Don’t forget about YOU: think about your needs also and schedule a day for you to catch up on things or even catch your breath. Whether it’s a full day once a month, half a day on Fridays, or a little bit each day, make time for yourself.

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A word about scheduling & teaching

My biggest struggle was to over schedule and over work my little ones with a lot of bookwork. I’d get in a routine and I felt like I was pulling (or dragging) them through school. School may seem very easy for us as adults but they’re young and are just learning. Some children seem to pick everything up so fast, they practically homeschool themselves and others seem to take extra long to learn the simplest concepts…THEY’RE NOT. It’s all GOOD!!!

There is no wrong way!

Just like children all learn to walk, talk and potty train at different ages, the same goes with things like reading and writing. But when it’s all said and done, they all eventually walk, talk, read and go potty. It’s not a race, so don’t make the same mistake as I did at first and treat Kindergarten like graduate school. 🙂

I like lists!

When I set up my schedule, I make a list of ideas and books I want to do in school. Then I make a list of stuff I want to do for the week. I prefer making lists instead of using a calendar, but a calendar works fine too if you like that better. We do just a little bit of each of the reading, writing, math and bible at first and then I increase their school work as they get older. After the core assignments, we do things like color, read books, arts, crafts, play games, free play, do simple experiments, workbooks, cut paper, glue things, journals, nature walks, weather watching, flash cards, puzzles, play-dough, playing at the park, library field trips and whatever else we decide to do.  I’ll have more detailed ideas in Part 2!


HOMESCHOOLING ISN’T HARD BUT IT ISN’T EASY EITHER


You’ll probably spend about 5-15 minutes a day, 2-4 days a week doing the core, reading, writing, bible and math with your child at first. As they get used to doing school and as they get older, they’ll be able to handle more work. I like to have 2-3 heavy days, a light day and a fun day. When they’re young “heavy” can mean sitting down for 5-15 minutes to concentrate on the basics. If two minutes, twice a week is as much as they can handle working on their letters, numbers and reading etc., then that’s perfect!  What should you do for the rest of the time?

PLAY & READ & PLAY PLAY PLAY (and read some more)!

All of it learning at this age.

SO BASICALLY ~  work on school stuff for an hour, focusing just a few minutes of the core reading, writing, math and bible and then 45 minutes or so doing fun activities…. then PLAY!

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Don’t rush reluctant learners

Learning is a process. A little bit goes a long way. It’s okay to do just a little bit in school especially in the beginning. If your child is reluctant and doesn’t want to do school work there are several things you can do to encourage him.

Have a heart to heart talk with your child about the importance of working hard on their school. Even listening to a story is working hard. I started talking to my children about what I expect from them in Kindergarten months before we started. I got them excited and let them help me in the planning and creating process, if they wanted. If you don’t have months to prepare them mentally for Kindergarten, gentle reminders throughout the week or before bed will help too.  Be excited for them.  If you’re excited, they’ll be excited too.

If my children work really hard but then get tired, I will take a break and do something fun. Reward their work. Sometimes I work with them for a little bit and then we play for the rest of the day.

This next idea may sound crazy…

…but something else I’ve done that help my children stay motivated is I don’t allow TV during the weekdays at all, only on the weekends (except what we watch as a family, which isn’t a lot). I also don’t allow my children to play any kind of video games on the console, computer or any kind of devices until after age 12 and then it’s only on the weekends. Once I implemented this rule, my children were happier and more content. They also worked harder and were more motivated during the time we were working on school. My two oldest were raised in the 90’s before all of this technology and I found that they were happier children and more content than my younger ones with all the technology. So I did away with it and they were happier, more creative and actually found more constructive ways to entertain themselves.

My older children didn’t get a smart phone, iPad, iPod touch or their own computers until after they graduated from high school, most of which they bought themselves in their 20’s. Our younger 3 children don’t have any of those things, including our teens. It has made life better for all of us.


Always remember that a little bit goes a long way


 Homeschooling Kindergarten is a lot of fun and very rewarding. There is so much to learn and explore.

Keep it simple and keep it joyful!


DON’T FORGET TO PRAY!


REMEMBER:  Set your schedule so that it works well for your child AND for you. Start slow if you need to and then increase the work as your child grows and gets the hang of it. If you have a struggling or reluctant learner, slow it down and have fun. There are many games and fun activities that promote learning without them even realizing they are learning.

Kindergarten is the hardest… but it’s one of my favorite grades!

You’ve been teaching your child new things since birth. But there’s something extra special about watching our little ones learn to read and write for the first time in school.  This is EXTREMELY REWARDING!

Have fun and ENJOY!!

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Kindergarten is the HARDEST! (Part 2) is filled with A LOT of fun activities and school ideas that will promote fun and successful learning for years to come.  Click here to read Part 2!

I’d love to meet you.  Please introduce yourself and your family!