How We Homeschool Preschool & Kindergarten

Over the years, how we homeschool has changed as we’ve changed in our philosophy and style. One of the biggest changes has come in the area of how we school our preschoolers and kindergartners.

I began homeschooling when my oldest was 4 1/2. I sat him down at the table with a long and involved (and rather teacher-intensive, I might add) curriculum and purposed to teach him to read within 2 months or else. We made every craft, took every field trip, and read every book that curriculum suggested. By the end of the year, he was reading and

I was exhausted.

However, my next child threw me for a loop. She’s the polar opposite of my oldest and so I figured I would wait to school her until she showed more readiness. However, one day she announced she could read the word “office” (and every other word for that matter) and we realized teaching her was going to be an absolute mystery. She still just suddenly learns things and hates having someone actually “teach” her.

Now, I’ve added #3 to the mix.  She’s somewhere in between.  But, there is something they (and all children) have in common…

They are sponges.
My first child is the kind of sponge that wrings himself out quite often, so you are never in doubt as to what he knows. My second child is the kind of sponge that rarely wrings herself out, only to suddenly and without warning get you all wet. My third child is just happy to be a sponge.
So, how has this knowledge changed how we homeschool?
Well, we’ve relaxed…A LOT, and we’ve learned to school them through everyday LIFE.
So, here’s a taste of how we homeschool our preschool and kindergarten aged children…

Organization:


Each child has a black crate ($2.50 ea) with their name on it. The crate contains their books, their pencil box, and a folder with each subject velcroed to it.

The preschooler’s crate has 1 coloring book and his pencil box which contains washable markers, 2 fat pencils, crayons, glue stick, and preschool scissors, along with one of his Rod & Staff ABC Series workbooks. {we no longer keep their pencils and scissors in their boxes…don’t ask. ;) )

The kindergartner’s crate contains her folder with 1 math sheet and 1 handwriting sheet tucked inside, her reading book (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons), and her pencil box with the same contents as the preschooler’s. {NOTE: We have since switched to
Phonics Museum
for Reading.}

On the outside of the kindergartner’s folder are these velcro tabs:
AM CHORES, CHORES, MATH, HANDWRITING, PHONICS
As she completes each one she moves the velcro tab from the outside of her folder to her chart on the pantry door.

Her completed worksheets go back in the folder and the folder goes into the COMPLETED box where I can check them and reload them each night.


(This system began as a modified Workbox System for large families that I found at Peace Creek on the Prairie blog. I have since modified it even more to fit my family’s needs and preferences.)

Workbooks:
My kindergartner has only 2….Horizons Math – K andA Reason for Handwriting – K. {Handwriting is now covered in Phonics Museum.} She uses an assignment binder to keep her on track for the week.
My preschooler has a coloring book (the $1 kind from WalMart) and one of his Rod & Staff ABC workbooks.  He is working through one book at a time and only a couple of pages at a time.

Schedule:
I hesitate to even call the way we school our littles a “schedule”, but for lack of a better term, this section describes the basics of what their “school day” looks like.

After everyone finishes chores, we begin school. Usually that means everyone starts in on their workbooks. The bigs do their independent work while I work with the kindergartner on her 1 math sheet and her 1 handwriting sheet. Occasionally, one of my older children helps her if I am busy with baby or finishing up in the kitchen. My preschooler works at the table alongside everyone else cutting and coloring and gluing his coloring book. (yes, I allow my preschooler to cut AND glue)

After the kindergartner finishes her workbook lessons, she and the preschooler and I move to the couch to read. They love this time and I cherish the snuggle time I get with them. Usually we begin with Leading Little Ones to God, followed by child-friendly books I’ve gathered from various book lists (more on those sources in a bit). By the time I am finished reading to them, the preschooler has had enough of sitting still and goes off to play. At that time, I do 1 reading lesson from 100 Easy Lessons
with my kindergartner. {NOTE: Hmmm…this has changed some.  Looks like I need to do an updated post!}

That marks the end of anything resembling formal schooling. It takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.

Life Lessons:
Here’s where the true schooling takes place. My littles spend copious amounts of time with me in the kitchen, outside, and on the couch. We cook, measure, talk ingredients and life while we work in our teeny-tiny kitchen. Outside we make contraptions from rope and buckets, build campfires, read, and explore nature (yes, there is nature in the city!) On the couch we cuddle and read and read and read. Life is a running dialogue with God’s awesomeness at the center of it all.

That’s what homeschooling is all about.

 

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Deuteronomy 6:7

Now, for the book list sources I promised to talk about.

I’m a book junkie…a bibliophile, if you will. Since I was in grade school, I’ve made lists of books I would someday read. I still have some of those lists! (this LIST being one of them)

For my littles, I use lists from several different sources. Here are a few of those sources:
1. Honey for a Child’s Heart (I got my copy from Paperback Swap!)
2. Old Fashioned Education book list
3. Ambleside Online book list
4. The Well-Trained Mind resource list
6. Five In A Row Series List

It’s very easy to use lists like these. Simply take the list to your library and find several of the titles listed. As you read them to your children, check them off the list. Also, don’t forget to engage your child as you read…point out things in the pictures, ask questions, have them tell back to you what you read. You will quickly see a LOVE for reading develop, and reading opens all sorts of doors because books can be about so many different subjects.

As you can see, homeschooling preschoolers and kindergartners need not be daunting and scary. Grab some good books, find a place to curl up together, and enjoy each other’s company. There really is very little extra they need.

(Micah “snacking” on the the name tag from his older sister’s crate)

If you’d like to read more about how we homeschool, be sure and visit The Homeschooling Mother page of this site.

31 Comments

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31 thoughts on “How We Homeschool Preschool & Kindergarten

  1. This is helpful, Amy! Thanks for sharing. I would say that my oldest is the kind of sponge who suddenly and unexpectedly gets you wet. He doesn’t like to learn “on purpose,” but he never fails to surprise me by how much he knows. He will turn 4 in March, so I’m starting to give some thought to what homeschooling a preschooler will look like. It does seem a little daunting to me right now, I must admit; so I appreciate your encouragement that it doesn’t have to be scary!

    In Christ,
    Angela

  2. I do not comment often, but I regularly read your blog. So, I thought I would stop by and say that I really enjoy reading your posts.

  3. You do make it seem so much less scary than I make it out to be. Even though my children are in school, I do think in another life – I could have done this. It sounds wonderful to me. If only I had known anything about homeschooling at the time my oldest started school. I didn’t, nor did I know a homeschooling mom at the time. And here I am now.. My husband wants to retire after 20 yrs in the military – and we decided (and I believe God called) me to go to college to pursue nursing. But I still wonder, could I do it all? Could I work it out, me in college and them home, being homeschooled? And sadly, I don’t see how I could. However, if God leads me to – especially with my little one, I will do it. He will make the way.
    Blessings to you and yours!

  4. What a great post! So far I only have preschool/kindergarteners. Thanks for the great advice! I can see myself inplimenting several of your ideas. :)

  5. Loved this post. Not much time right now but my first two are similar to your description. I thought I knew what I was doing umtil my second child came along LOL!

    The wringing out analogy is so dead on.

  6. Hi Amy~
    Great post!
    We homeschool much the same way….in the kitchen and outside. We let each day unfold natually….we don’t force it!
    I love your crates and the velcro tag system….very orgainzed.

    Blessings,
    Georgiann

  7. I think you have provided some great tips that other home school moms can use. The best advice, do what works best for you and your kids and remember why you chose to home school them in the first place. Remember that there will be days where you seriously question whether home schooling them was the right choice. Trust me, it is!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  8. We used the workbooks from Explode the Code for reading. My daughter started in the very first books, I think they are Before the Code. I loved them and so did she. They teach letter recognition, sounds, and some listening skills. I was so happy that I found them, they were easy to use and the kids loved them.

  9. Love your book lists, Amy! I’m sure between them all you’ve got the Before Five in a Row list covered. Those books are always so good. :)

  10. What a great post! I am sure you are an encouragement to many! I am past the “preschool and “kindergarten” stage, but some things you are doing would be useful for the higher grades. I have found that it is a process and you grow with it…certainly much less “daunting” than i used to believe. We began schooling our children at home when we had children in grades 6,4,2,and a preschooler…this is our fourth year.

    Blessings,
    Camille

  11. Thank you for this post. I read here all the time but seldom comment. This year I am homeschooling ny oldest (2nd grade) and my second (K) while I have a three year old and a 1 year old. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the file folder idea and will be implementing that as soon as possible. Thanks for such a great idea.

  12. Fabulous post! It’s so important to remember how very much this age child picks up just by BEING and DOING. Thanks for sharing this!

  13. I just discovered your blog and I’m starting to homeschool my 2 and 4 year old in the fall (Pre-K and K). Your description sounds SO EASY! I think I’m wigging myself out by overthinking things.

    Thanks for the tips and I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  14. Love it! I also home school my kids. I get a lot of my ideas from my aunt who home schools my cousins who are now in HS.

    My oldest is doing 3rd grade and loves to read. My daughter is doing 1st grade and I am about to start preschool for my 3 yr old who is too anxious to wait until next year.

    I am glad that you posted this because while my aunt is very helpful on choosing curriculum, she is not at all organized. I am more of an organized person and you have got some great ideas.

    Thank you again for the post and God Bless you and your beautiful family.

  15. Now this is a method that could work at my house! Finally!

    It’s ridgid without being restrictive, demanding w/o harping.

    THANK YOU!

  16. I just stumbled across your blog! This was so timely and needed for me.I have a 2.5 year old who is learning new things every day and have been racking my brain about what to do “next year” for school! This reminds me that it doesn’t need to be hard and I don’t need to make it that way!! Thank you!!

  17. Pingback: Modified Workbox System for a Large Family | Raising Arrows

  18. Amy, this is a great look into the world of how you teach your young ones! Thanks for sharing this.

    Ryan (from Alpha Omega Publications)

  19. Hi! Came across your blog from Heart 2 Heart. I appreciate this article. I’m mom to a 4 and 3 year old, and we’re basically ‘doing’ preschool … whatever that looks like… Totally no schedule. At all.

    I look forward to reading more!

    Kim

  20. Hi Amy!

    I am researching 2 types of curriculum and looked for some guidance from you. I am looking at Spanish for high schoolers (I know you do Latin but I thought I would look around on your site for info.) and handwriting for my kindergartener, who is more on a 1st grade level than K. I am looking at the Reason for Handwriting First Grade level. Are you still using that series? Any pointers? I know this is an old post but I hope you get some kind of notification about new comments on these things!

    Thanks!!

    • I really like A Reason For HW, but when we went Phonics Museum, I didn’t want to overdue the handwriting since it was part of the phonics program. My oldest daughter uses Rosetta Stone for Spanish and we are very pleased with results.

  21. THANK YOU!!! I was beginning to stress out and think I was about to completely screw up my child (kindergarten, starting HS next week). So glad to see that it doesn’t have to be uber structured.

  22. Thank you for your tips and summary of a normal “school” day. I am a very proud homeschool graduate that is preparing to start teaching my own children. My daughter is 3 so I am really interested in what parents are doing for preschool. Thanks again for the wonderful ideas!

  23. Thank you! This really helps me feel less overwhelmed about homeschool organization. I’ve been intimidated by all the terms like “workbox system” and “lapbooks”. But crates I can do!

  24. Thank you for this website! I just stumbled here in my search for homeschooling resources. I’m starting to (more formally) homeschool my oldest this fall – she will be starting kindergarten and this is very very helpful! I have to admit I was getting a bit nervous about the whole thing :-) I will be checking here often for your wisdom!

  25. How did you decide to move from “100 Easy Lessons” to “Phonics Museum”? We have “100 Easy Lessons”. I have been working through it with my 4 year old. We got half way and now she hates it. She is still very interested in literacy. LOVES to be read to, always draws letters and asks how to spell things so she can write them, asks what things say. So, the interest is there, but the curriculum got too hard too fast or something and now seems overwhelming to her. I hesitate to invest in an expensive curriculum just to be disappointed again. I was thinking about just getting “BOB books” from the library and trying that system for a while. Do you have advice on this? She is my oldest, so I have no previous experience.
    How do you determine what level of math to use? I just looked at the few pages on line from the K-Horizons curriculum. It looked too easy for her. But I imagine it gets harder the further you go on. The first few lessons in the first grade looked like something she could do. But again, I know it will get harder and I don’t want her to feel overwhelmed by that too. But also don’t want her to be bored. Lots of trial and error when you get started?
    Why did you use a separate writing curriculum? Does the phonics museum not include writing? “100 Lessons” does, but if we don’t continue with that then may need to get something else.
    This is really helpful. Thank you so much for posting. I hope to hear back from you.

    • Hi! I’ll try to answer all your questions.
      1. We moved to Phonics Museum because we would get to lesson 30 and the kids were sick of it. I was sick of it. And it just didn’t seem to be what we needed.

      2. BOB books were not a good fit for us. My kids spent so much time guessing what the words were, they weren’t really learning to read.

      Here is my review of Phonics Museum: http://www.raisingarrows.net/2012/08/teaching-your-child-to-read-with-phonics-museum-a-review/

      3. Level of math – we just started with Kindergarten and moved on from there. There are concepts that children need to start with in order to build on to. The early lessons are going to be easy.

      4. There is writing in involved in Phonics Museum, but I felt we needed a bit more.

      Hope that helps!
      Blessings,
      Amy

  26. I am looking for some advice on curriculum. I have all “littles” and feel overwhelmed. I have an 8 yr old in 3rd (My Father’s World), and I need to do K with my 5 yr old. Under them I have a 4, 1 and new baby coming in 3 months. What do you suggest for K that will focus on reading, writing and math and yet not add too much stress? What should I do with my 4yr old who wants to be involved, but tires often of being told what to do?
    Thank you for your advice!

    • For your 4 yo, the Rod & Staff workbooks I mention here are great! For your Kindergartner, I suggest just 30 minutes a day working on phonics and math. Most phonics programs incorporate handwriting.

  27. Thank you for writing this. I have a child who will be starting kindergarten this fall. Since deciding to homeschooling, kindergarten and 1st grade are the two grades I have been the most terrified of teaching. Or, more pprecisely, terrified of teaching reading. I love you review of Phonics Museum, and think we’ll be trying it this fall.