Kindergarten…so full of possibilities! For many it’s the beginning of their “official,” journey into the world of homeschooling! If that’s you–welcome!! Along with all the excitement of starting something so monumental, comes a lot of pressure! You are homeschooling because you feel it’s the best choice for your child and your family…You want to do it with excellence! So the beginning–step one, kindergarten, can feel both glorious–full of freedom and many, many educational choices, but also so overwhelming! What is the best curriculum for kindergarten? The fear may begin to settle in…
“I don’t want to mess this up!”
But, Sweet Mama…let me share a secret with you to encourage your heart. You can’t mess this up–not kindergarten!
So no matter what curriculum you choose–your child will be good (more than good)! You will learn and thrive and get your bearings in this new world of homeschooling! But I know it’s helpful to have practical advice about what’s working for other homeschool moms! So today, I’m sharing my favorite kindergarten curriculums and how kindergarten looks at our house! I pray that it encourages and blesses you as you prepare and make plans to homeschool your kindergartener!
Reading and Math
With so many great educational choices, it’s easy to lose focus on what your kindergartener truly needs to know! And right now the academic focus should really be on two things–reading and math! If you focus on nothing else academic the entire year–but put your energy and funds into teaching reading and math–you’ll be in great shape! Everything else is essentially frosting on the cake! I highly suggest you spend most of your time, energy, and budget on those two subjects!
Saxon Phonics: My Top Choice for Reading Curriculum
I love Saxon Phonics! I’ve used Saxon Phonics K to teach four of my children how to read–and plan on using it with my twins in a couple years! I’ve gotten my money’s worth to say the least! Here’s why I keep coming back to it…
- Totally Planned and Scripted Lessons (I taught 2nd grade once-upon-time…but it’s still been helpful to have very specific directions for teaching phonics!)
- Multi-Sensory Approach–lessons include auditory, visual, and tactile work!
- Leveled Readers are included, so your child will begin reading their own books after just 27 lessons!
- Lots of Repetition! You and your child will quickly learn the rhythm of Saxon Phonics lessons–skills are reviewed daily!
- Assessments and Record Keeping are included!
- Daily Lessons take approximately 30 minutes of daily instruction (4x per week).
- Spelling is gently integrated–your child will seamlessly be learning to spell throughout the lessons!
(If you decide to purchase Saxon Phonics K, be sure to buy the complete Homeschool Kit! Some of the important flash cards and other materials are part of this set!)
But regardless of what curriculum you choose–I’ve got some great strategies to help you be successful! Don’t miss my post, the Best Way to Teach Reading–My Top 5 Strategies!
Saxon Math: My Top Choice for Math Curriculum
Saxon Math is truly a staple in our homeschool. I know–some people love it, and some people don’t! I really do love it–and probably own every single year of Saxon Math through Algebra 2! (However I’ve also fallen in love with Teaching Textbooks for older students–but that is way down the road for our kindergarteners!) So for now let’s look at Saxon!
- Saxon Math is completely planned and scripted–open and go! No planning or prep needed (besides occasionally gathering simple materials) at the Kindergarten level!
- Lots of Hands-On Activities!
- A Gentle Pace with Lots of Review!
- Daily Lessons are simple and quick–about 30 minutes 4x a week!
- Assessments are provided throughout. (I use these more as a way to gather information, telling me which skills I need to revisit or spend extra time reviewing!)
Just an FYI…I typically use Saxon Math 1 for Kindergarten. Most of my children have been older kindergarteners (6 years old)–and I use Saxon Math K for the Pre-K year when my kids are 5.
To compare, here’s a quick look at some objectives in Saxon Math K:
- Creating Patterns
- Color and Shape Recognition
- Identifying and Ordering Numbers 1-20
- Creating Graphs
- Introductions to Measurement, Time, and Money (Penny, Nickel, Dime)
And here are some objectives in Saxon Math 1:
- Writing and Identifying Numbers (1-100+)
- Ordinal Position
- Continued introduction to Shapes, Measurement, Time, and Money–more in-depth
- Addition and Subtraction Facts (1-20)
- Basic Fractions Introduced
Both are excellent choices–choose the starting place that best represents your child’s needs. Math K is much slower and more gentle. Math 1 is definitely a quicker pace, but not overwhelming. Plus–you can always slow it down and extend it into your child’s 1st grade year.
Math manipulatives are so important for fostering number sense and cementing a strong math foundation in our kids! No matter what math curriculum you use for kindergarten, make math more fun and meaningful with great manipulatives! Don’t miss the list of my favorite math manipulatives (I’m using all of them currently with my kindergarten son in Saxon Math 1)!
What About the Rest?
What about History, Science, Art, PE, etc…? At this level I usually let my child’s natural curiosity lead the way! I just don’t find it necessary to spend money on formal curriculums in these areas for Kindergarten.
My son loves animals so we spend a lot of time reading about animals, visiting the zoo and nature center, and playing with “animals,” to reinforce our lessons. (For example, we just finished up studying frogs. I bought my kids a set of toy frogs and flies. And they’ve been acting out stories with the frogs, as if they’re the best toys ever! I love overhearing them the retell facts and stories they’ve learned over the week!) The Animal Book by DK has been a huge hit with my little guy!
Other ideas for Science…Apologia!
I do own many Apologia books (which I LOVE) from when my older kids were in elementary grades…We look through them and hit topics very casually for kindergarten (just cuddling on the couch and maybe trying an experiment or two). But they could definitely could be explored more seriously if you really want to follow a Science Curriculum! We will be using them throughout the elementary and middle school years! My favorite Apologia Exploring Creation Books are:
- Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day
- Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day
- Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
Ideas for Projects, Art, History and Geography…
We also make art and craft projects as time (and energy) allows. I pick activities to go along with:
- Animals we’re studying
- Letters being learned (for example, a Lion craft when we learn letter L)
- Math concepts (like setting up a fun grocery store)
(I am a Pinterest junkie–follow me for lots of great homeschool ideas)!
For history, we visit local historic sites and focus a lot on geography. When reading certain stories (like Irish folk-tales to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day) or when learning about an animal living in a specific regions–I’m sure to point out the locations. Kids are naturally curious about where different people or animals live!
I also like to draw upon travel we’ve done as a family…”Remember when we went to Florida? Look here we are, and here is where Florida is on the map!”
There are great books for introducing the concepts of maps and locations! Puzzles have also been a big hit for introducing geography! Here are some of my favorites:
Keep it Simple!
Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to come up with tons of crafts and activities–especially if that isn’t your cup of tea! Do what works for you–keep is simple and low stress! This is kindergarten–savor the snuggling and sweet time together! Read lots of great books aloud, allow for lots of play time and outdoor activities, and keep your focus on teaching reading and math! That’s it–you’ve got this!
I’m wrapping up my 14th year homeschooling…Some of the greatest blessings have little to do with the academics. It has truly been a privilege and blessing to homeschool my kids! Here’s a post about why I still love it after all these years! I pray that homeschooling is a blessing to you too! Please know that I’m here if you ever have any questions, and I’m cheering you on!