Homeschooling Kindergarten – You Can Do It!

It’s that time of the year… Parents are thinking about the school year ahead. It’s a shame that we can’t just enjoy the summer and give our minds a rest. However, there are sign-ups for fall lessons. Public schools have sent out notifications to parents of rising kindergartners to attend Open House. Some parents are looking at private schools. Every year in the spring, I have moms call and inquire about homeschooling. Many would like to teach their newly school-aged children at home but they feel inadequate. The task seems too big! They don’t know where to start.

I want to encourage you. You can homeschool your child! You have been homeschooling since the day you brought your baby home. There was no “curriculum” that instructed you how to go about teaching your child to roll over, use the potty, talk, walk and run or interact with his/her siblings.  Naturally, your child developed and with each new skill, you cheered him on.  You modeled language. You talked to your child. Before you knew it, your babbling baby became a very verbose toddler. Just because your child is now 5 or 6 years old and ready to learn to read doesn’t mean you no longer are capable of doing what you’ve been doing his entire life! You can homeschool!

Homeschooling is no longer odd, unheard of, or only for bun-wearing, denim-jumper clad mothers. Homeschooled children are not unsocialized. Those are stereotypes and myths! God is calling more and more families to this amazing task. No, it is not easy. I would be lying to say that taking on the education of your children is a simple endeavor. However, it is a privilege. It is a joy! While it isn’t easy, there is tremendous support available to those who are called to bring or keep their children home. If God has called you to homeschool, He will equip you in every way.

My tendency is to “read up” and try to “figure out” how I am to do what God has called me to do. There are zillions of books on home-schooling and educational philosophy. There are zillions of curricula out there and they all would have you think “their way” is the “best way.” If you talk to 100 homeschooling mothers, you will likely be introduced to 100 different ways to go about home education. The curriculum fairs are a tremendous resource. However, they can over-complicate! If you are considering homeschooling your kindergartner, I want to encourage you to NOT BE OVERWHELMED by the sheer number of resources out there! If God has called you to homeschool your six year old, you simply need to obey His calling. Don’t try to figure it all out! Relax. Begin reading materials that interests you. In time, you will catch on to “homeschool jargon.” However, knowing the language isn’t going to make your child’s first year of school any more meaningful. Just start. God will lead you!

My encouragement, if God keeps whispering “Why don’t you homeschool next year?” is to do three things.

1. Pray. Yes, really pray about this – with your husband. If your husband is not on board and you think it would be a good fit for your family, pray some more. I know many, many mothers who first felt the call to homeschool and their husbands originally did not. DO NOT NAG! Simply pray about it. Talk about it. If your husband is the one interested in homeschooling and you think he is crazy, please pray! God very well may be speaking through your hubby! Consider yourself blessed that he has such vision!  You do both need to ultimately agree that homeschooling is God’s plan (at least for this year) for your family. It is a lifestyle. It affects your schedule, your resources and most importantly, your children! This is a decision you must make together.

2. Find a mentor. Is there a homeschooling family in your church you know whose children are well behaved, respectful and possess joy in learning? Ask them if you and your husband could meet to talk. I am convinced that no book, speaker, online support group or CD series can ever take the place of real live people who are there for you. Homeschooling families are busy. However, most that I know would be delighted to mentor a young couple. I am so thankful for mothers, ahead of me in their parenting journeys, who have taken the time to answer questions, direct me to resources and pray for me. If you don’t know who to ask, pray. I remember doing this 15 years ago when I first moved to my town. Where I lived previously,  I had a relative who was like a big sister to me. Being ten years older, she had several years of homeschooling under her belt and 6 children when I became a brand new mommy. I grieved not being close to her. The first Sunday I visited my church, I saw a beautiful family with 6 children that reminded me a little of my “big sis.” Boldly, I introduced myself to this mother who did befriend me. I have learned so much from her over the years. I thank God for her! A busy homeschooling mother may not take the time to ask you if you have questions. However, she likely would love to have you over for tea. Take initiative and give her a call!

3. Just start! What do you need to begin? Technically – nothing. I am serious. You can count the plates as you unload the dishwasher. You can “skip-count” pretzels as you put them in baggies for snacks (which is preparation for multiplication.) You can sort laundry into piles. You can teach your child to write using just paper and pencil. You can read to your child. You can teach him basic phonics without any curriculum at all. Dr. Seuss books makes great beginning readers! Read the Bible. Discuss the history behind the basic Bible stories. As your child learns to write, copy scripture verses and write to Grandma. Read aloud everyday about anything your child expresses interest. Listen to stories on CD during quiet time. Talk to him a lot! Go on field trips. Draw pictures! Plant seeds and read about plants or animals or the solar system. Collect tadpoles and watch them morph into frogs. Visit the library often. Enjoy your child. You will be blown away by the learning that occurs!

I know that many mothers feel better having a curriculum tell them what to do. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you can truly dismiss feeling like you HAVE to obey a teacher’s guide. For many mothers with a rising kindergartner, there are younger siblings to tend to as well. It is so important to remember that the school-aged child is not the only child in the family. I have seen kindergarten curriculum that is simply busy work. It could take a mom hours to get through the daily assignments with their child. For a very young child, such work is just not necessary. Thirty minutes to an hour at the most is enough time for a 5 to 6 year old child to devote to table work. That doesn’t mean your child will only learn for up to an hour a day. Leaning occurs all the time! Chores teach responsibility. Free play teaches independence and fosters creativity. Errands are full of learning opportunities. My recommendation is to find resources that don’t stifle the other types of natural learning that a child needs or resources that make you feel burdened by all that you are not doing. I’m planning to write a post of my favorites later this week. However, though I’ve homeschooled kindergarten 5 times, I am not the expert on your child! Nor is a classroom teacher! God gave your children to you. You know them best! He will show you the best resources for them.

It’s that time of year. One school year is coming to an end. There is anticipation of the school year ahead. If God is whispering, “What about homeschooling?” don’t be overwhelmed. Pray about it! Talk about it! Learn from others! You can do it… I promise!

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut. 6:6-7

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philipians 1:6


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6 Responses to “Homeschooling Kindergarten – You Can Do It!”

  1. Laurel Says:

    GREAT post!

    I’ve been homeschooling for 20 years (have 6 graduates) and have 10 years left (with 6 children left).

    Wouldn’t trade homeschooling for anything.

    mama of a dozen

  2. Tina Says:

    Thank you, Laurel! You have twice the time and twice the number of children as I do 🙂 WOW! I agree… I wouldn’t trade homeschooling for anything either – even during those times (like my parents living with me for a season) when life seems to get in the way of academics!

  3. Amy Says:

    Tina, I really appreciated this post; thanks for sharing it with me. My 5 year old son Benjamin seems soooooo ready for school, yet I keep delaying because he is so young, and he neeeeeeeeds to play.

    Perhaps I’m a little cautious about starting him with schooling because my husband Jeff flew through school and was an academic wizard. He started high-school @ 12 years old, college @ 15. He’s very accomplished, yet he looks back now and wishes he’d spent more time playing and doing extra-curricular activities. His social activity was somewhat bogged down because he poured over books so much. He expresses some caution regarding our boys’ education.

    Benjamin is already pouring over books, even though he can’t read yet! He loves them; we’ve been reading to him at least twice every day since he was brand new. He sometimes pouts because he doesn’t get to go to school yet; he wants to learn to read. He’s already recognizing some simple words… We don’t watch TV, so his activity levels are busy every day ALL day. He’s very helpful with chores, is independent with self care, is constantly asking to do new things like using the keys to unlock the car and front door, and is such a helper with his baby brother. He loves to listen to stories and music on CD. He and his brother sing during most of their play; they sang special music @ church with Jeff last w/e for the first time: Jesus Loves Me and I Have Decided to Follow Jesus. Benjamin and his daddy talk about science, physics, math, God, car models… He asks 1000 questions every hour, most of them being quite intelligent! I swear we have a genius.

    The things we are trying to foster the most right now are a love and knowledge of God, Bible stories, a dependence on Jesus to make right choices, and physical activity. Benjamin is learning how to swim this summer. We take him to see little-league and elementary baseball games (we try to help him recognize good sportsmanship). He and his 2 year old brother have caught a lot of fireflies this season for their bug box; it serves as their nightlight when full of God’s little wonders. =) Benjamin is very interactive with his daddy doing outdoor fun like backpacking. In fact, when he was 4, he did a 7 mile trek in one day!!! I mean really! I send him off hoping he’ll get worn out a bit, but he comes back charged up; it’s amazing.

    So here’s my question: What more should I do? Am I making a mistake by delaying his official school days until he’s six? Am I hindering his learning? (If so, I cannot imagine how to keep him challenged once we really do start school). I see lots of credible observers’ eyebrows go up when they interact with him; they often tell me things like, “he’s ready for school” and “he’s way beyond kindergarten levels”. Others tell me “wait; boys need more time to play, as their learning styles are different than girls”.

    Any and all advice from moms with homeschooling experience teaching boys is WONDERFUL!!! Should we consider special gifts testing or something? Is there ever a case where a child with special gifts needs more than homeshool? What are some good resources for music lessons in violin or guitar for kids this age? What might be some tips for Jeff and me, as we move often and are traveling a lot right now due to his work; establishing a support group appears difficult.

    God bless you Tina! I know this is a LONG comment!!! =)

  4. Tina Says:

    Amy,

    Your son sounds so much like my Nathan who is almost 11. He taught himself, to my surprise, to read at the age of 4. He downloaded instructions from the internet on how to solve the Rubik’s cube when he was 8 and became a proficient “cuber.” He memorized (seriously) the globe at the age of 6 and can tell you where nearly every country in the world is located. He reads science for fun and digs politics. He got through a book 3, teaching himself classical guitar. His first year of piano, he went completed 3 books. He is very bright and when he was little, I received similar questions as you.

    I promise… letting him be a little boy will not hurt him whatsoever! Now – if he needs some school, let him get on StarFall about 30 minutes a day. (That’s how Nathan cracked the code!). Give him a math workbook if he likes it. Then just read to him! As far as music goes, I have hear Suzuki violin is a good thing. However, I really wouldn’t push music at such a young age. Nathan began taking lessons at 9. After only 2 years, most folks think he began very young. However, so many little ones forced to take music burn out and quit before they are proficient.

    So much of what a 5 year old learns is through play. Yes, little boys need that! As your little guy matures and you are able to see true areas of giftedness, the Lord will show you how to direct him. I promise! Yes, there is a place for outside lessons. I fully intend for Nathan to take music through high school. I probably will put him in anatomy camp at ASU as soon as he’s old enough because he has a huge interest in the human body and a great mind for science. He already expresses interest in being a doctor one day. I pray for opportunities for him to be challenged. The Lord has been good to provide what we need. This year, he will be taking a foreign language and be finishing up a math book 2 grades ahead. He may start Algebra in the 7th grade. So… by jr. high he may be getting high school credits. However, we did not push him academically at all until last year, when he tired of playing outside and began complaining of boredom. You have plenty of time!

    I recommend a book by Dr. Raymond Moore called Better Late Than Early. Your library probably has it. I always hesitate to recommend books because I seldom agree with everything in them. This one is a good read for your stage. However, I am not pro- putting off instruction until age 9 or not worrying about a child who can’t read at all by age 10. I don’t know if that’s in there… just giving examples! I just remember this being a great read for me when my oldest was entering school age. It helped me to see that there was just no rush for formal instruction and gave me good ideas for channeling her play to be educational.

    God bless you, Amy!

  5. Amy Says:

    Thank you so much Tina. I really appreciate your insights and wisdom. God bless you too. ♥

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