How to Homeschool Kindergarten
You must be wondering how to homeschool kindergarten. Welcome to Orison Orchards!
Once upon a time, I was brand new to homeschooling, and I remember feeling intimidated by this monumental task I was undertaking!
My oldest, Anne, missed the kindergarten deadline by a month. Despite my frantic, pleading calls to our local elementary school, she was not allowed to begin kindergarten with all of her little friends. She was distraught, so as consolation I offered to have ‘school’ with her at home every day.
My mother-in-law, a recently retired kindergarten teacher, gave me a stack of phonics worksheets and some ideas for counting games. Anne and I, plus my three younger kids, spent about 20 minutes most days enjoying learning together.
The kids loved it, since it was primarily games and reading aloud, and those persistent little punks made dang sure we had ‘school’ every day. I’m joking — it was actually very easy and a lot of fun.
If you google ‘List of things a kindergartner should learn’ you’ll see that you could really teach most of it in a few hours, so you don’t need to spend more than 20 minutes a day accomplishing it all.
If your kids are like mine, they will relish ‘school’ and demand more of it than is strictly necessary, so by the end of the year your 5-year-old will likely be considerably ahead of the local public school kindergarten.
20 years ago, a few social and physical skills (like tying your shoes and zipping your coat) were the extent of what children learned in kindergarten, but modern lists, like the one below, include some academic skills.
I also want to add that preschool and kindergarten curriculum overlap. I begin teaching the skills outlined here around age 3-4, or whenever my children seem interested and eager to learn.
I have never once needed to ‘push’ any of my children academically at this age, and I think it’s harmful to do so. It can instill a dislike of learning, which will set them up for failure down the road.
So keep things light, unpressured, and enjoyable — for both you and your child. That’s the key to success in your homeschool kindergarten!
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Things your child should know by the end of kindergarten:
- How to cut along a line with scissors
- Establish left or right-hand dominance
- Understand time concepts like yesterday, today, and tomorrow
- Pay attention for 15 to 20 minutes
- Hold a crayon and pencil correctly
- How to share and take turns
- Know the eight basic colors
- Recognize and write the letters of the alphabet in upper and lowercase forms
- Know the relationship between letters and the sounds they make
- Recognize sight words such as the and read simple sentences
- Write first and last name
- Write consonant-vowel-consonant words such as bat and fan
- Retell a story that has been read aloud
- Identify numbers up to 20
- Count by ones, fives, and tens to 100
- Know that addition is putting things together
- Know that subtraction is taking away from
- Know basic shapes such as a square, triangle, rectangle, and circle
- Know address and phone number
- Understand how people in communities work together
- Use their five senses to make simple scientific observation
- Above all, your child should know that learning is fun!
Pretty simple right? Kindergarten does not need to be stressful.
Learning is naturally fun. You don’t need to Pinterest the bejeebers out of a fancy curriculum, either. Reading together and playing games together, with things you already have around your house, will be amazingly fun to your kindergartner. You don’t need to make learning fun — it is already fun to curious, playful children.
Remember that, just like other developmental milestones, all kids will master these skills at different times, which is totally normal and okay. It’s even okay if your child doesn’t have these skills at the end of kindergarten. Some kids (lots of boys) have difficulty with the academic skills, but excel at the physical ones. It is totally normal.
They will learn the proper skills when they are ready. Relax, have fun and enjoy your kids!
We parents unwittingly but inevitably convey our attitudes to our children. If you are worried that your son is ‘behind’, he will know, and he will worry, too.
He may even grow to feel incapable and dislike learning. It is so critical to relax and have faith that your child is capable and brilliant, and to convey that attitude to him. So much of learning depends on a positive attitude towards it.
It is especially fun to teach young children through multi-sensory learning, which is teaching that is done using as many of the five senses as possible. By seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, and yes, tasting while you learn, information is learned much more efficiently and thoroughly.
You can do most, if not all, of this teaching using just items around your house, without spending any money on a formal curriculum.
So how do you go about this?
How to homeschool kindergarten (for free!) in less than 20 minutes per day
All you really need to teach in a homeschool kindergarten is math and phonics. Your child will pick up what he needs to know about science through daily life, as you visit the zoo and take field trips to national parks — as long as you are taking the time to observe the world around you together.
If you want to use a curriculum, feel free. But all of these concepts are best taught through simple games and stories. Because I am also homeschooling my older children, my little ones just beg to be included in our homeschooling around the kitchen table.
So I actually use all of these games and activities starting from about 3-years-old, and by kindergarten my children are usually itching to work with pencil and paper just like the big kids. They just want to do what the rest of us are doing!
So at that point, I usually hand my kindergartner a Saxon Math 1 book (Saxon K and Math 1 cover the same concepts so it would be redundant to use them both) and turn him loose. In less than 10 minutes a day, he’ll complete the entire Saxon workbook in about 7 months. And we use the suggested games, activities and picture books alongside Saxon, because nothing beats a tactile, visual, multi-sensory explanation of a concept.
I wouldn’t use the workbooks, though (the suggested games and activities cover all of the same concepts) if my children weren’t begging for them. Worksheets and textbooks just can’t compare with hands-on learning!
>>> Wanna know how I use Saxon Math? <<<
Free Homeschool Kindergarten Curriculum for Teaching Math
Kindergarten math is all about counting and recognizing that a number symbols have names and that they represent the designated quantity of concrete objects. You don’t need a textbook or a curriculum.
Here are the math objectives for kindergarten. Ideally, your child should know these things by the end of kindergarten:
- Count by rote to at least 20
- The concepts of more, less and equivalence
- Count backwards from 10 to 0
- Recognize that written numbers represent real items
- Be able to write numbers
- Identify and sort basic shapes, and be able to make new shapes from them
- Compare sizes, such as length and weight, in general using words such as taller, bigger, or shorter.
- Understand prepositions: up, down, under, near, beside…
- Understand the concepts of addition and subtraction with single-digit numbers
That’s it! Easy, peasy! I hope that makes you feel better!
Each and every one of these objectives can be taught using household items and a paper and pencil. Have fun with it!
Use your imagination and turn play time into learning time by counting, adding and subtracting as you play cars, Play-Doh or blocks. Your kids will regard math as games and will love math!
Use games. Card games, like Uno and Skip-Bo, will help your child to gain basic number recognition. So will counting around a board game, recognizing numbers on dice. Simple outdoor games, like hopscotch and jump rope encourage counting and number recognition, and they’re fun, too! You can jump on the trampoline together or play leap frog while skip counting. You’re child won’t even know he’s working on a valuable skill!
Read math books together. I’m not talking about textbooks — I’m talking about fun, picture books. Much of the time, a great picture book can introduce a mathematical concept to a kindergarten-age child in a way that is more memorable and more easily understandable than any worksheet.
Use real life to make connections. Talk about your schedule with your children. Let them add music lessons, church and other activities to the calendar. Talk about the day, the month and the season together.
Let your child help you cook. They can read the numbers on the recipe (4 cups of flour) and count them as they add them to the bowl. They will be exposed to fractions and measurements.
Set up a store at your kitchen table. Purchase a few dollar store items you know your child will want, then label them with price tags, give your child a jar of change, and let her figure out how to buy them. Let your kids work to earn money, and take them to the store to spend it, but make them figure out how.
Have your child set the table, figuring out how many plates and utensils to set, and then counting them as they set the table.
This article would hurt your scrolling finger if I included all of the details about teaching kindergarten math in your homeschool. So I’ve written a more detailed article with kindergarten homeschool ideas just for math.
It’s got all the resources you need, along with book lists to take along to the library. It includes lists of fun, multi-sensory kindergarten math activities that just use household items to teach each math concept in your homeschool. It really is a complete FREE homeschool kindergarten math curriculum.
Free Homeschool Kindergarten Curriculum for Teaching Phonics
First, make sure your little one is ready to read, so the experience is enjoyable and not frustrating. Read: Is my Child Ready to Read?
To put it as simply as possible, your child just needs to know each letter, it’s sounds, and how to form simple consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words. This usually happens quite quickly, however, so we move on to more advanced phonics. By the end of kindergarten, your child could easily be reading several grade levels ahead, but do not worry if this is not the case.
Your toddler can watch children’s shows about phonics. My kids have enjoyed ‘Letter Factory’ and ‘Between the Lions’. You will be amazed at how quickly and young they begin talking about letters. My babies and toddlers watch alongside my 4 and 5-year-olds, and it seems like they know their letters almost from the time they start talking. You can also look for free phonics apps online. I’m very wary of letting my little people spend much time in front of the TV or tablet, but when I need to use those items anyway, I try to make it educational.
Sing the ABC’s daily, while pointing to the letters. You can make a cheap poster on a piece of posterboard, or flip through letters written on note cards, but make sure you are showing your child that there is a physical symbol for each letter.
Spend several weeks just learning that letter symbols represent letter sounds. Read alphabet books like ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom’ and ‘Dr. Seuss ABC’s’, and ‘ABC I Like Me‘, being sure to point to each letter as you say it’s name, so your child learns that the symbol represents the sound.
When you decide your child is ready for a more formal study of phonics, start him off with fun games and activities. Here are some fantastic, free ideas, listed in the order in which phonics should be taught.
Here is a ‘free homeschool kindergarten curriculum’ for teaching phonics.
How To Teach Phonics, step by step:
*Quick organization tip: You will want to use these games over and over, so make it easy on yourself by organizing them well and making them durable right from the start. One package of colored file folders, a package of bright cardstock, and a cheap laminator (I have used this exact model for several years and it is inexpensive but great quality. It is wide enough to laminate file folders. You will also need laminating pouches) should complete an entire phonics program. I like to print each game on cardstock. If the printable includes a game board, I cut it out and glue it to the file folder. I then laminate the entire file folder (so it is durable and washable), label the folder and staple a ziploc to the edge of the folder to hold all of the pieces, which I have also cut out and laminated. I keep all of the file folders together in a plastic, portable file box so we can easily just choose a game to play each day with zero daily preparation required (if you have prepared all of your games upfront).
1. Letter recognition
- My kids LOVE to cut apart junk mail (gardening catalogs are the best! Join Gurney and Burgess mailing lists for free catalogs) and organize things by letter. For example, I would draw a large, uppercase A and a lowercase a on a page, then we would find A words all through the catalog, cut them out and paste them on my A page. Your kids will think it’s a blast, they’ll practice their fine motor skills, and it’s totally free.
- Alphabet Activity Pages (This Reading Mama)
- Alphabet Photo Cards (The Measured Mom)
- Find books at the library that reinforce the letter you are working on, such as Katie Kangaroo when talking about the letter K, and the Berenstein Bear’s B Book when talking about the letter B..
2. Sounds of the consonants
- Beginning Sound Coloring Pages (The Measured Mom)
- Beginning Alphabet Sounds Clip Cards (Free Homeschool Deals)
- Consonant Sorting Mats (The Measured Mom)
- Beginning Sounds Alphabet Mats (Mom Inspired Life)
3. Short vowel sounds
- Short Vowel Building Mats (This Reading Mama)
- Short Vowel Roll & Read Games (This Reading Mama)
- CVC Rhyming Word BLACKOUT (This Reading Mama)
- Race to the Pond CVC Games (The Measured Mom)
- Short Vowel Missing Vowel Mats (Free Homeschool Deals)
- Short Vowel Clip Cards (Free Homeschool Deals)
- Word Family Pull-Out (I Can Teach My Child)
- CVC Sound Boxes (Playdough to Plato)
4. Begin reading CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words
- Create your own books. We like to cut plain copy paper in half, fold down the center and staple, using a sheet of cardstock as the cover. Then, to make it a little easier, I print all of the words my child knows onto small cards so that my child can arrange them into sentences and then copy them into his book.
- This adorable, FREE, printable, Word Family House includes all of the CVC word families, so practicing will be super fun for your child!
- Build a Word Magnetic Tray (I Can Teach My Child)
5. Long vowel sounds
- 10 FREE long vowel games for the CVCe pattern (This Reading Mama)
- 26 free games to teach long vowel sounds (The Measured Mom)
6. Blend long vowel sounds with consonants
- Magic E BINGO (Playdough to Plato)
- CVCe Word Family Ladders (3 Dinosaurs)
- Roll a Long Vowel Game Boards (The Measured Mom)
- Ice Cream CVCe Puzzles (The Letters of Literacy)
- Short & Long Vowel Sort & Read (Liz’s Early Learning Spot)
- Long Vowel Jump Game (123 Homeschool 4 Me)
7. R-controlled Vowels: A vowel followed by an “r” stands for a special sound that is neither long nor short. (ar, er, ir, or, ur)
- Bossy R Word Sort for AR & OR (This Reading Mama)
- 4 in a Row Bossy R Games (The Measured Mom)
- R-Controlled Vowel Go Fish (The Measured Mom)
8. Begin blending and reading two vowel words and Introduce the two special vowel rules.
- Rule 1 is the one vowel rule When a syllable ends in a silent “e”, the silent “e” is a
signal that the vowel in front of it is long. This is often called the magic e or the bossy e.
For example: make, kite, rope, use. We always sing “Silent e-e-e, makes the vowel say it’s name”
- Rule 2 is about vowel pairs: If a syllable or word has two vowels together, called vowel teams, the first vowel usually stands for the long sound, and the second vowel is silent. We always sing, “When two vowels go walking the first one does the talking.”
- Long Vowel Team Phonics Cards (This Reading Mama)
- Long Vowel Roll & Read Games (This Reading Mama)
- Vowel Chunk Spelling Cards + Word Lists (This Reading Mama)
- Worksheets for oo (The Measured Mom)
- Long a Spelling Patterns Train Game (The Measured Mom)
- Printable, Decodable Books (The Measured Mom)
- Froot Loop Spelling Mat (The Measured Mom)
- Long Vowel Match Up (123 Homeschool 4 Me)
9. Consonant Digraphs (a digraph is a pair of letters that make a single sound– we like to call them sticky letters): When two or more consonants are joined together and form a new sound, they are calleda consonant digraph. They can occur at the beginning of words (Initial digraphs: ch, sh, th, thr, ph, wh, ck, kn, wr) or at the end of words (Final digraphs: ch, ng, sh, th, tch)
- Digraph Say and Cover (The Measured Mom)
- 5 free games for teaching Digraphs (The Measured Mom)
- Single Player Digraph Games (The Measured Mom)
- Beginning & Ending Digraph Clip Cards (This Reading Mama)
- 50+ Blends & Digraph Game Boards(This Reading Mama)
- Short Vowel Building Mats with Blends/Digraphs (This Reading Mama)
- Consonant Digraph Garden (I Can Teach My Child)
- TH Digraphs Wheels (Liz’s Early Learning Spot)
- Digraph Gumball Puzzles (Playdough to Plato)
10. Syllables: Many words are made of multiple syllables. Each syllable has one vowel sound. *Closed syllables have one vowel followed by one or more consonants. The vowel sound is always short. For example: last, napkin (exceptions to this rule are ind, ild, old, olt and ost words). *Open syllable only have one vowel sound which is the last letter in the syllable. The vowel sound is long. For example: hi, sky, skyline, me, etc.
- 6 Syllable Types Freebie (This Reading Mama)
- Open & Closed Syllable Games (This Reading Mama)
- Compound Word Printable Books (The Measured Mom)
- Printable Two-Syllable Books (The Measured Mom)
- More Printable Two-Syllable Books (The Measured Mom)
11. Compound Words are made up of two or more words joined together to make a new word. (e. g. granddad and birthday)
- Compound Word Card Games (This Reading Mama)
- Compound Word Popsicle Puzzles (This Reading Mama)
- Kid Friendly Syllable Rules (The Classroom Key)
- Hands-On Compound Words (Carrots are Orange)
- Super Suffixes Game (Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational)
12. Vowel digraphs are vowels followed by a “w” which produce one vowel sound. The vowel sound can be long or short, or have a special sound of its own. Vowel digraphs are: ai, au, aw, ay, ea, ee, ei, ew, ie, oa, oo, ou, ow
13. A consonant blend is two or more consonants that come together in a word. Their sounds blend together, but each sound is heard.
Initial consonant blends are:
S blends: sc, sm, st, sk, sn, sw, sl, sp
L blends: bl, gl, cl, pl,fl
R blends: br, fr, tr, cr, gr, dr, pr
Final consonant blends are:
S blends: sk, sp, st
L blends: ld, lf, lk, lp, lt
N blends: nd, nk, nt
other blends: ft, mp, pt, rt
The activities and games suggested above will provide a very thorough, and free phonics program up through at least a second grade reading level. Because these suggestions are game-based, fun and multi-sensory, your kids will probably love them and will beg you for school each day! It is a lot for a little person to remember, though, so they will need to be done repeatedly, or else you will need to use workbooks to really thoroughly reinforce each concept.
*Important note to parents: Multi-sensory games and activities are hands-down the absolute best way to learn new phonics rules and concepts. Your child will feel eager and excited about learning that way. Worksheets/workbooks should only be used to practice and master a concept. Even so, they will be best received with a bucketful of crayons, scissors, glue sticks and whatever else you can think of to make the worksheets seem more like a fun activity than a boring worksheet.
After your child is pretty comfortable with a concept, have them read to you from a reader that corresponds to the concept. For example, once your child can read cvc (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and a few basic sight words, have them read to you from early readers that only use cvc and the sight words your child is familiar with.
It is so exciting, for both your child and you, to hear beginning readers actually reading books! Cuddle your child close and make a huge deal about this stellar accomplishment! Really celebrate it! Your child will be so excited about this new skill that he will start reading everything he encounters, from street signs to the j-a-m label at the the grocery store.
Books A, B, and C teach the letter names and sounds. You won’t need the teacher’s guide.
The Best Phonetic Readers for Kindergarten in Your Homeschool
Teach a child letter sounds with Bob Books Set 1! With four letters in the first story, children can read a whole book. Consistent new sounds are added gradually, until young readers have read books with all letters of the alphabet (except Q). Short vowels and three-letter words in simple sentences make Bob Books Set 1 a fun confidence builder. With little books, come big success. (TM) Each of these boxed sets is comprised of eight smaller books.
Bob Books® were specifically designed to facilitate that ah-ha moment, when letters first turn into words. By slowly introducing new letter sounds, using consistency and repetition, and stories that fit short attention spans, your child will quickly find his or her own ah-ha moment.
We wish your young learner much success and happiness as he or she enters the great adventure of reading.
Bob Books Set 3 adds something new for young readers. Consonant blends gently introduce new concepts to the progressing reader. Consistent vowel sounds and lots of three-letter-word practice mean your child continues to enjoy reading success.
Readers at this level are able to tackle longer sentences and longer books but still love the accomplishment of reading a book all the way through. Bob Books Set 4 continues to build reading skills, while also providing engaging stories that build success.
In Bob Books Set 4, the simple narrative and design help children focus their skills on decoding, while introducing more challenging concepts and longer words. The delightful illustrations and humor help keep young readers engaged.
I also use these phonetic beginning readers. They truly are phonetic, and slightly more entertaining than the BOB books. Your kids will be frustrated if you try to use books that aren’t entirely phonetic too quickly. Each of these sets is comprised of 10 shorter books, each slipped into a plastic sleeve. Each book represents and reinforces a phonics rule.
They progress logically and sequentially through all of the phonics rules. I teach my child to follow along with his finger as he reads, and each time he reaches an unfamiliar word, we quote the appropriate phonics rule together (e.g. when two vowels go a walkin’ the first one does the talkin’) and then my child sound the word out. Try really hard NOT to do the work for them. Also, it is critical that you hold your child on your lap, possibly wrap yourselves in a cozy blanket, and make the whole reading experience as relaxed, comfortable and enjoyable as you possibly can. Laugh together (these books are silly) and discuss the plot afterward. You want your child to love reading together SO much that he will beg for reading time!
This set of books is also available in ebook format, but I heartily recommend sticking with the paper format so the experience is as multi-sensory as possible.
Level 2 moves on to more advanced phonetic rules and concepts.
Your child will start learning the rules for all of the exceptions to the rules. English is really such a difficult language. Your child is amazing to be picking it up so easily! Give that child a huge hug!
The author, Nora Grados, also offers a set of Level 3 books, but we never used it because my kids were ready to move on. Once your child is well-versed in phonics and sight words, feel free to move on to this list of excellent beginning readers: 21 of the Very Best Beginning Readers
A fellow homeschool mom just told me about the Progressive Phonics program. I have not used any of these readers, but she did and her son loved them. Early through Intermediate Literacy Stages – This program teaches reading and handwriting (the handwriting is a similar style as Handwriting Without Tears).
Math and language arts are all you really need to teach your kindergartener, but if you both love your time together so much that you want to spend more time on school and study other subjects, you can find all kinds of fun, free homeschool curriculum online.
Just google ‘free homeschool kindergarten curriculum’ or search it on pinterest and you’ll find all kinds of things.
Here is more free homeschool kindergarten curriculum:
4th of July free homeschool printables for PreK-K.
Number Writing Worksheets This excellent site is full of all kinds of wonderful and free homeschooling resources
color-word workbook This site is full of resources specifically for kindergarteners
FREE Homeschool Curriculum This is my own extensive compilation of wonderful and free homeschooling resources
We also turned all kinds of random facts (like the capitals of all the countries, a continent at a time) into flashcard games.
Follow me on pinterest for more great, free homeschool kindergarten curriculum. I’ve saved hundreds of fun, free activities and free, printable, low-prep, easy games to my pinterest boards ‘phonics and kindergarten’ and ‘homeschooling’. Check them out!
With my kindergarteners, I never spend more than about 20 minutes per day on ‘school’, plus the time we spend reading aloud as a family daily, if you want to count that. Because the older kids and mom are still gathered around the table, and the younger children desperately want to be included, I usually provide open-ended art supplies (e.g. crayons and paper, scissors and glue, pom-poms, googly eyes and chenille stems) for them. They also make endless books, using several pieces of copy paper cut in half, folded and stapled, with a cardstock cover.
Kindergarten is really VERY simple and easy to homeschool! You can teach your child everything they should know in just a few minutes a day, using absolutely free homeschool kindergarten curriculum! Never underestimate the power of a loving home and a motivated parent to provide the best educational experience for your child!
Good luck on your homeschooling journey! Be sure to enjoy that amazingly smart and capable little person and have lots of fun laughing with them! I assure you that you will look back on these moments as some of your very favorite and most memorable!
Please leave your questions or comments below! I personally read and answer every one of them!
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- How to Establish a Reading Culture in Your Home
- How to Help a Struggling Reader
- How can Something as Simple as Reading Aloud be so Powerful?
- The Ultimate list of FREE Homeschool Curriculum