Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

How We Homeschool Kindgarten

A few weeks ago, I wrote about why we use a cyber school program, but I didn’t give you a full picture of how we’re homeschooling kindergarten.

The cyber school’s stuff is the tip of the iceberg. I plan for our school time to be around 90 minutes, and we cover that stuff in around 10. (It isn’t meant to be covered in 10 minutes a day. More on that later.) The rest of the time may be spent on other subjects, reading, drawing, or playing Barbies.

While I was working on my first education degree, I learned about interdisciplinary, child-led studies. In short, that’s a fancy way to say that all of the subjects are taught together, and the students’ interests guide the topics studied. There’s no need to learn science separately from social studies and reading separately from math since they are all mashed up together in real life. They can be mashed up together in learning, too, and students have better retention and understanding in both the short- and long-term.

I guess all that means that I lean toward unschooling, but I really hesitate to classify myself into any one part of homeschooling. We just do what feels right for Grace.

Because Grace is so little (just a month past her fifth birthday) and has such varied interests (kindergarteners are supposed to), we do a little of this and a little of that and a lot of  learning disguised as cool and fun activities. We also do a lot of school at times outside of our daily school time. Grace likes it that way, and I like whatever gets Grace excited about learning.

Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

1. Calvert’s kindergarten curriculum

We get Calvert free from our cyberschool. Like any curriculum, Calvert has advantages and disadvantages. We used it in its entirety when we first started, but I quickly dropped entire subjects. The first to go was science (not enough substance) and technology quickly followed (Grace can use a laptop and iPad; she doesn’t need instruction on how to click a mouse). Before long, we ditched sight words and writing and social studies, and then reading comprehension and phonics.

I feel like the kindergarten curriculum is more politically correct (teaching about pollution and self awareness) than it is real teaching and learning (real science and historical situations). There’s a lot of repetition, not so much analysis and evaluation.

To be fair, I am teaching an exceptional student whose needs and abilities are very different from an average kid.

Also, I haven’t been reading over all of the subjects since the third month, so I can’t say what they’re like at the halfway mark.
We could go on like this for a few years. Grace really likes Calvert’s math workbooks. On the other hand, if the cyber school weren’t saving me so much time and energy related to paperwork and organization, I would quit using Calvert all together.At this point, we primarily use Calvert’s math (although I do drop weeks at a time because Grace is too advanced for whole units), writing fluency (we do a lot of their journaling activities), arts and crafts, and physical education activities. I skip everything else unless we have to turn something in to Grace’s teacher.

2. The Logic of English

I love, love, love The Logic of English. The Logic of English makes our language make sense. Instead of being a language of exceptions and confusion, The Logic of English makes it a language of order and predictability.

The Language of English is an intensive phonics approach, teaching the 74 basic phonograms and their sounds for reading and writing. There are also 30 spelling rules. Together, they simplify and explain our entire language.

I stay up late at night reading Uncovering the Logic of English because I’m a nerd it makes sense of a subject that has always vexed me, and Grace asks to do The Logic of English every day.

We use the entire Logic of English curriculum – cursive handwriting, phonics, reading, spelling, and grammar. Or, rather, we will use them all once Grace learns all of the phonograms.

With five- and six-year-olds, Denise Eide, author of The Logic of English, recommends spending 30 lessons learning the phonograms before beginning the actual curriculum, so that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. We haven’t even looked at Lesson 1 yet, but we have learned all four phonogram sounds for the letters i and u, all three phonogram sounds for the letter a, and the sounds for j, p, s (there are two!), r, t, d, and m.

Each day, we go through the phonogram flashcards that Grace already knows, add 2 new phonograms, and we practice writing some letters in cursive.

I hate flashcards for young children, and I am not afraid to admit that. I couldn’t come up with any other way to teach Grace these phonograms, so I reluctantly began using them a couple at a time. By the second day, Grace was asking to do the flashcards. So. We’re doing the flashcards regularly, almost every day.

Only I would have a kid who loves to drill and practice with flashcards. She even pretends she’s the teacher and quizzes me on the phonograms.

I’m learning a great deal, and she is, too.

3. Little House on the Prairie

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Grace is obsessed with Little House on the Prairie. She thinks about Laura and Mary all day, every day. We play Mary and Laura all day, every day. (Although, we’ve gotten to the place in the story where Mary is away at the college for the blind and Laura has met Almanzo, so we mostly play Laura and Almanzo these days.)

Her obsession with Laura Ingalls Wilder began with my attempts to force a rest time after she quit taking an afternoon nap. I’d read to her, and she’d lie down and listen for an hour. It was beautiful. We still do that when she’s overtired or just needing a break.

Most of the time, we have school time in the afternoon, and we save Mary and Laura for bedtime. We end up reading three or four days a week. We’ve worked our way through all of the books up to Little Town on the Prairie, and we have only two chapters left in that. I think there are only two books left after this one, so I’m not sure what we’ll do next.

I suspect Grace will want to go back to the beginning and start over.

Little House on the Prairie has spurred almost all of our learning for the last seven months. I’ve purchased a few unit studies from Currclick, but mostly I’ve made things up as we’ve gone along.

Social studies – Grace has learned a lot of history through the Little House books. We’ve talked about the pioneers and the Indians and the Oregon Trail. We’ve done a lot of geography while we traced the Ingalls’ family’s travels. I’m really excited to dig into All American History 2 Junior, an American history curriculum for young elementary kids. I think Grace will love it.

Science – The science connection isn’t at first as clear as the social studies connection, but we have learned about all kinds of plants and animals that were inspired by our books. We did a lapbook on plants. We started another lapbook on animals of the midwest. We’ve talked about weather quite a bit, especially during The Long Winter, but we haven’t done any real studying there yet.

Crafts & hands-on learning – We made a yarn doll, and Grace and her dad made a log cabin out of pretzel rods. We also have done many things that Mary and Laura would have done, including picking cherries and then making them into a pie. That’s the picture at the top of this post.

4. Discoveries in Reading from Calvert School

This enrichment box from Calvert includes 24 mini unit studies. Each unit study is based on a book that’s included in the kit. It’s an easy and interesting addition to our homeschool day, and Grace really likes it.

5. We Choose Virtues

I’ve written before about We Choose Virtues. I really love it.

Each day, Grace and I go over the VirtueVille kid we’re currently studying. It takes 2 minutes, but it has set the stage for some serious virtue discussions at other times. Those kids have also been a source of pride for Grace as she models her behavior after theirs.

6. The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas

I love this little book. It’s like an art teacher in printed form, explaining techniques and materials and how to work with them. We use this during school time, but I also use it once Grace is in bed, to give myself time to wind down and do something that isn’t work-related.

 7. Compassion International

We sponsor girls in Ghana, Ecuador, and Brazil. We just finished a lapbook about Ghana and the child we sponsor there. We are starting on Brazil next, and we’ve worked through some of the lessons on Compassion’s website.

 

That’s pretty much what we’re doing for kindergarten. We read other books every day, mostly picture books and treasures from the public library.

What resources do you use to homeschool kindergarten?

Disclosure – When I realized I wanted to use the above curricula, I reached out to publishers. Some agreed to give me a copy of their full curriculum in exchange for inclusion in my curriculum guide. If they had not agreed, I would have purchased it on my own. I believe in it that much.

© 2012 – 2013, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. says

    Fabulous post! I knew you would love homeschooling. I am all about combining subjects together for learning also. T loved when we immersed into a subject he was into.

    Don’t forget when you are cooking with G on those Little House recipes that you are doing math and science too!

  2. says

    I love your post. Tomorrow I begin my journey with Samantha- my 5 year old. My husband and I tried to enroll her in public school. We lived 3 out of the 15 schools in our city. They were all “A” graded schools and came back with 100%. In our district – you have to list all schools by number of preference. We later found out that she was enrolled into our last choice of school- which was the furthest and worst in the district.
    So after discussing it with Daddy- we decided to enroll her in Cyber School. Fortunately we are not new with this. 2 years ago we put our house in the market and did not want our teenage daughter to be pulled out of school and transferred half way through the 8th grade. So we chose Connections academy. We LOVED it! She was always a great student but without the distractions- she learned so much more. She is a very shy girl so once we settled in our new home- we decided to enroll her back in Public School for her first year of high school. As much as she benefited from the academics of online school- at this point she was suffering socially.
    She just completed her first year if highschool and was an honor roll student the entire year. She was promoted to English Honors 2 months in and she was only 1 of 2 freshmen to be recommended for Dual Enrollment (Early College).
    So we weren’t “disappointed” when we decided to enroll our little one in connections academy. Daddy is thrilled. Now she will have much more time together plus he will have swimming, and gymnastics classes for socializing.
    My question is this- you wrote that you dropped classes- I was wondering how? I’m not judging because only YOU know what’s best for your child. But do you just check off the class as if it is completed? Or did you get the courses modified? Also the time- correct me if I’m wrong but you are able to complete each class in 10 min- or the whole day? I’m just looking for tips.
    Thanks for all the great insight. :0)
    Sincerely,
    Veronica C

    • Tara Ziegmont says

      We didn’t drop the class exactly. I had Grace promoted to the next grade level. We had to prove that she could already do all of the skills in the pre-k curriculum (by actually doing the graded assignments), and they let us skip all of the extraneous stuff.

      Grace is in kindergarten, so they don’t cover every subject every day. We do the whole cyber school curriculum in about 10 minutes a day – because I use an alternate curriculum for reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, science, and social studies. If we did all of those subjects in the Calvert curriculum, it would obviously take a lot longer.

  3. Kaylene says

    Hi, I was just wondering exactly what cyber school program you use… you mention it several times in your blogs, but I can’t seem to find where you list the name. Just hoping to find a good online school. Thanks.

    – Kaylene

  4. says

    While I no longer have a kindergartener, I have always combined subjects with my 5 boys to give them a total immersion experience. It has worked so well! Don’t you just love homeschooling? I have learned so much right alongside my boys!!

    I have a freebie to share with you:)
    Fine motor Skill Activity

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