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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
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The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Homeschooling Special Situations

Homeschooling Kindergarten

by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006

Resources and suggestions for teaching 5 and 6 year olds at home.

How much formal teaching should be done with 5 and 6 year olds?  
There is no firm answer to that question.  In public schools children are
being taught to read and write at ever-younger ages.  But not all
educational experts agree that this is a good thing.  Some children may
be ready for sit-down work at 5... but others may benefit from another
year or two of play and exploratory learning.  

Children are very different from each other in how they develop and how
fast they mature.  For example, a child who is very interested in nature
and science may enjoy learning about different animals, weather, and the
ocean... but may not be at all interested in sitting down to learn how to
read, yet.  A child who picks up reading at an early age may still not be
ready to learn how to write.  And a child who loves art, music, and
dress-up may not be ready for formal math instruction at age 5.  

No one knows your child better than you do, and one of the benefits of
homeschooling is that you can decide what your child is ready for and
what can wait for another year.  When children are ready to learn they
show interest in their lessons and learn things much quicker.  When they
are ready to learn they are not stressed-out or anxious or frustrated.  If
you can give them the time they need, they will find joy in learning and
will have a good feeling about their lessons.  Early positive experiences
will make homeschooling much easier in the long run.      

Some homeschool approaches start young children off very slowly and
some even recommend delaying formal teaching until children are 7, 8,
or older!  (You can read about
Delayed Instruction here.)  Other
approaches recommend that parents simply read to their 5 and 6 year
olds, take nature walks, sing songs, do art, play dress-up, have
make-believe adventures, build things, play games, and enjoy hands-on
projects together (look into approaches such as
 Charlotte Mason,
Unit Studies,  Literature-Based Homeschooling, Holistic
Homeschooling, and Unschooling ).

If you intend to use a
"School-at-Home" approach you will find that
curriculum suppliers do offer a full curriculum for Kindergarten.  But, as
the homeschooling parent, you can decide to start Kindergarten at a
later age (just as many parents decide to hold their children back from
public school Kindergarten for a year).  And, when you do decide to
begin, you can save some topics till later in the year, and, instead, begin
with the topics that might interest your child.  

Sometimes parents are afraid that they must follow their purchased
curriculum exactly, or they will not be doing a good job of homeschooling.
But, really, what is most important is that your child becomes interested in
learning and experiences success in his or her lessons.  If that means
making some changes to your curriculum, then that is the right thing to
do!  Sometimes you will want to trim down or skip lessons that your child
already knows.  If your child is having trouble learning a particular topic,
you may want to find other materials that teach the topic in a different
way.  If your child is very interested in a certain topic, it is a great idea to
look for more resources on that topic -- maybe library books, educational
videos, or hands-on projects that can help bring the subject to life.   

It is up to you, as the homeschooling parent, to decide what will be the
best educational approach for your Kindergartener.  Whatever approach  
you choose, be aware of how your child is responding to your choice,
and be prepared to try something different if things don't work out the
way you imagined.  Remember that Kindergarten experiences (both good
and bad) can set the stage for future attitudes about learning.  So try to
find ways to make learning fun and interesting... with whatever type of   
curriculum or homeschool philosophy you use.

Do you know your state's "Compulsory Age of Attendance"?  The
school entrance age varies by state, so be sure to check your own state
regulations to find out when you need to begin meeting homeschool
requirements.  See The Homeschool Diner's
Before You Begin section
for more information.

Here's what some of the experts have to say ...

A Homeschool Curriculum for Preschool and Kindergarten by
Lillian Jones

A Gift of Time by Sue Smith-Heavenrich , September - October 2001,
Home Education magazine

Much Too Early by David Elkind -- read what the original experts on
early childhood learning had to say about academics vs exploratory play

Learning All The Time by John Holt-- discusses the differences
between learning and being taught (check your library for this book :-)

Kindergarten Curriculum Options

Curriculum Providers, Free Online Resources, Other Options

Avoid Costly Curriculum Mistakes

Online Support Groups
Kindergarten discussions are typically included on your regional
homeschool support groups as well

Kindergarten_at_Home -- a Christian-focused online support group

Charlotte Mason Kindergarten -- an online support group focusing on
the CM and Well-Trained Mind approach

Related Issues

Pre-writing skills and activities   to strengthen hand muscles and
improve dexterity in pre-writers and children who struggle with writing

Is Your Child Gifted?   Take a look at gifted characteristics in children

The Diner's All Time Favorite ABC Books

Delayed Instruction Approach

Homeschooling on a Budget  

Family Connections -- information on a family-school outreach program
cites research which shows that enlightened parental involvement is the
best indicator of positive school outcome

Early Childhood Development:

Learning to Communicate

Developmental Milestones for ages 1 - 6  includes milestones for
motor skills, language, and social skills

Social Skills Help

Help with Short Term Memory

Family Game Time: Strategies for helping the "poor loser" in your
family -- tips for helping keep family game time fun

Doctors Urge More Playtime for Children

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills by Alix Spiegel

Walled Gardens by Bruce Van Patter -- striving to preserve childhood

Raise Children with a Wild Streak by Mark Pruett

The Wild Child a "deep thought" by Scott Noelle

Values, Emotions, and Respect from the U of Illinois
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