Written by Amida of Journey into Unschooling
When I started homeschooling, some 15 years ago, my focus was very much on academic achievement. Like many before me, I had a long list of subjects to plow through and an even longer list of concepts for my kid to master.
Not only did we closely follow the school curriculum and state standards, we added in Great Books, Classic Literature, Memorization, Art Study and Latin for good measure.
We accomplished many amazing projects (like Monet-inspired paintings), as well as shed many, many tears.
Looking back, I’m surprised we survived the grade school years, let alone continued the journey with three more kids!
Luckily, homeschooling turned out to be my calling. Despite the constant stress, the never ending housework, and the 24/7 with kids, I rather liked it.
I loved hearing my children read aloud. I relished seeing them read to themselves. I delighted in the doodles that came with every sheet of paperwork they completed and even the incomplete weather logs.
It was all good and brought purpose to my life. I was the one who taught them how to write their first letter, read their first sentence, and add their first group of plastic bear manipulatives.
This will be my fifth year repeating kindergarten, and I must say, practice does make it easier. I now know exactly how much to push and when to back off.
In fact, here are five things I’ve learned through (teaching) kindergarten to my kids:
1. The earlier they can read, the better.
My four kids have learned to read at ages three, four, five, and six. For us, the earlier the start, the higher the confidence in learning other subjects.
And for the record, I only suggest to start young — the finish line could be as close or far as necessary, depending on the child. You might be pleasantly amazed by what your 3- or 4-year-old can pick up.
A note from Jamie: My own family made a very different choice when it comes to the age to introduce reading and other academics. I appreciate Amida sharing her experience because I want this blog to always encourage readers to find what works for you and yours, and to recognize that will lead us all to different solutions.
2. Make friends young.
There’s nothing like having another kid your age to grow up with and take over the playground with when everyone else is in school.
Siblings are wonderful, but having a special friend to share stories or snacks with is a real treat.
3. Field trips are not an option.
Get out and explore the neighborhood park or community event or museum or even the local library.
Much can be learned by observing the world around you. Notebooks optional.
4. Art is not an option.
I love doing art. Painting, drawing, building, crafting — you name it, I’m there.
Creativity is just as important as STEM, and no doubt improves your productivity in other areas.
Photo by Eric Costello
5. Every day is not a school day.
The younger the kid, the less “school” they need.
Seriously, no child under six needs a planner. Teach them reading, writing, and simple arithmetic. Done.
And oh yeah, everything’s more fun with stickers. Even homeschooling teenagers love them–only they call them “decals.”
What are some things you’ve learned through teaching kindergarten?