This week was officially our first week homeschooling kindergarten and preschool! I felt the responsibility to actually do more than I did with just preschool. Plus, most of their friends would now be gone full days at kindergarten!
A lot of people have asked “what we are doing” and “how long it takes”. Here’s a realistic peek into our first week homeschooling a 6 and 4.5 year old with a toddler in tow.
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The pressure of kids going back to school
Not going to lie, I was dreading this because it meant an end to our summer buddies going back to school at the public schools. No more park days or play dates with them, and a huge need to find and cling to some homeschool mamas with young kids.
People kept asking me if we had started kindergarten yet and what our days look like. The truth is, our days don’t look much different than before.
We don’t have a “homeschool room”. Lessons are short (like 20 minutes max) and spread throughout the morning back and forth between my kindergartener and preschooler.
Choosing kindergarten curriculum
The other pressure that comes with starting kindergarten is choosing something I like for each thing I want to teach. I won’t know if I like it till I try it!
Plus, I honestly don’t know my son’s learning style yet! So I watched a ton of YouTube, picked what got me excited, and we’ll start with that.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that school has to take hours and hours like public school. With homeschool, it doesn’t. If you expect that at this age, then you will simply be filling your homeschool day with lots of busy work and fluff.
Not my goal.
My homeschool goals for kindergarten
I researched what kids in public school kindergarten should know by the end of the year, and chose what to teach my kids to stay on par with that. To be very bare bones about it, I’m focusing this year on:
- Lots and lots of play including this nature study curriculum with a weekly nature co-op.
My kindergartener just turned 6 in August and he knows how to read. I can hardly pull him away from his books!
This takes a lot of pressure off of me because he can now read his own directions in any workbook. He can also learn a ton independently if I find books he likes to read.
Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about him reading “enough”, because he’s saturated in books right now.
My preschool goals
- Learn to read (update, she wasn’t ready, so we waited till kindergarten)
- Know letter names
- Learn to write (she’s ready earlier than my son, which I know because she asks how to write certain letters all the time)
- HAVE FUN with our daily preschool curriculum by Busy Toddler
My goal for my 4.5 year old is to teach her how to read this year using the same book I used for my son. This will take about 15 minutes/ day and will go on for at least a half of a year or until we finish.
I am also going through a very fun, hands on preschool curriculum called Playing Preschool by Busy Toddler. You can read my review on it here.
It’s low pressure, and honestly I’m just so thankful for all the fun activities inside. Without any planning, I have some fun things to do with her each day while she also learns letters, numbers, and sounds.
Worries I had about homeschooling my kids
I kept thinking, are they having fun? Do they know I have no idea what I’m doing?! Am I doing enough? How much time is reasonable to spend? What order should I go in with 2 kids? What if my kids beg me to go to school with their friends?
It’s easy to second guess if our homeschool is “enough”. It is. They can retain SO MUCH so quickly when they are ready, interested, and have that 1 on 1 interaction.
After meeting with a group of homeschool moms one night this week, I realized I’m not alone in any of my worries about homeschooling. And that is exactly why you should find another homeschool mom friend if you are feeling frustrated or insecure.
Be solid about WHY you are homeschooling
Your “why” is what is going to get you past your fears. And the more sure you are, the less you’ll feel the need to explain your decision to others and the better you can get through normal homeschooling frustrations.
Explore your why more by reading my list of pros and cons of homeschooling.
What a typical homeschool day looks like
We are still figuring this out, and so far no two days have been the same. Our first day I only did a math lesson with my son, a quick lesson from Playing Preschool with my daughter, and a tracing worksheet for both. That was it. We eased into it.
- 1-2 subjects either reading, writing, or math totaling about 1 hour
- Reading out loud
- Unplanned silent reading
- Art or something hands on, often something from our Playing Preschool book.
- LOTS of play
I found the hardest part was just figuring out the logistics of when to teach what. Especially when the setting didn’t change (aka my house). Here is what it looked like by the end of the week.
WEEKLY ACTIVITIES TO FIT IN
- Grocery shopping
- Play date
- Nature co-op
- Science center, parks, library, or whatever we feel like
Eat breakfast and get dressed
Around 7:00 AM, we have breakfast. The kids clear their cereal bowls to the sink. Then we get all get dressed. A new habit for us this year! I get dressed too and do a 5 minute makeup routine and throw my hair in a ponytail.
Getting dressed early helps us get out the door if we want to later. For instance, my husband had a break in the morning and called to see if we were free to meet him downtown. It was super fast to get out the door, but would not have been if we were all still in pajamas.
Start school with my 6 year old
Around 8 AM I have my newly turned 6 year old come over to the couch and we do one math lesson from The Good And The Beautiful K. This takes about 20 minutes but is so fun!
Kindergarten math is very, very basic. I chose to get a curriculum for math because I wanted someone to tell me exactly what to do each day. And this one is a grab and go with NO PREP book, and no teacher’s manual needed.
So far my son loves it and has said how much fun math is! Every day he gets to do a fun interactive worksheet and build something with his hands.
Do a reading lesson with my 4.5 year old
This happened 3 of the 5 days this week. I use this reading book, which taught my oldest how to read and all his letter names! One day we just didn’t have time before we met with our nature group, and the other day she was just in a bad mood!
I didn’t force it. It wouldn’t have been productive! Instead I invited her to sit on my lap and I read some Mother Goose. Instantly way better. This takes us about 15 minutes at this point.
Take a break
The beauty of homeschooling is if you need a break, you can take one! After I’ve done one thing with each kid, I let them play for a bit and I’ll go get a second cup of coffee.
Playing Preschool hands on fun
We adore our Playing Preschool curriculum by Busy Toddler. It hardly feels like school and I don’t schedule it in. We do it when I’m free and my 4.5 year old seems bored or asks for it.
Basically it helps me to come up with 2 fun hands on activities for my preschooler and the other kids join in if they want! But I bought it for her.
Read out loud
The more I read out loud, the more my kids look at books on their own! I can read while they play, or sit next to me. I can read when their attention spans for school are shot. Or to calm everyone down.
We read short books, chapter books, nursery rhymes, bible stories, scientific books, history books, anything really. They soak it up.
So many seasoned homeschool mamas have said, “Read as much as you can out loud and don’t worry as much about the rest.” I’m taking that to heart.
When I feel like we have exhausted the books I know of, I’ll be leaning on book lists and there are plenty out there!
This doesn’t involve me at all, since my son just picks up books and reads them now. I can’t even believe it! This is not scheduled school time but it’s 100% the type of schooling I love to see.
I go to the library once every 1-2 weeks and get around 30-40 new books. It’s an insane amount. Some have only a few words per page and some have a paragraph on each page.
I don’t own a ton of books, but here are a few staple one’s we love and own.
Writing letters with both kids
This week, we worked on writing one new letter a day with both kids. Uppercase and lowercase. I have been doing the letter of the day in Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, which has a writing component at the end of each lesson.
I’d heard amazing things about Handwriting Without Tears, but wasn’t wiling to drop the cash on it if I didn’t absolutely have to. Here’s how I have been teaching my oldest to write the alphabet without a handwriting curriculum.
Our composition notebooks for kindergarten
Next week (books just came in the mail) I will try out our composition notebook! I’ve seen printed pages like this used in public school kindergartens for writing and they look so fun! Kids draw a picture on the top half, and write (as best they can) a story about it below.
I let them each pick one. My 6 year old chose THIS rocket book and my 4.5 year old chose a mermaid book. I can’t wait to see them practice in here as their knowledge of letter formation and phonics grows! Plus, I thought it may be a cute keepsake.
If your child can’t write but loves to draw stories in here, you could always write the words for them for a while.
I’m undecided about how many days per week we will use these writing books. At first I thought daily, but I don’t want to overwhelm the kids with too much too soon. We may try it a few times a week at first.
Update: My kindergartener was not ready for independent writing in this notebook till the end of the year. We had to work on dexterity through Legos, Play Doh, and go back to tracing over letters and doodling more. Once 1st grade began, he was ready to begin trying to write his own sentence.
Things I want to add in to our homeschool routine eventually
I’m going to get into a rhythm with what we have now, and then I’ll try adding in some of these things to see how it goes.
Afternoon Tea Time
I love this idea of having a special snack and warm tea after rest time. This could be a fun way for me to read to them while they wake up and refuel. We always have a snack anyway!
A daily “Book Basket”
A lot of mamas have a literal basket filled with books they want to go through with their kids as a group. It can include literally anything you want to read aloud or cover with all your kids! A Bible verse, poetry, library books, or even a chapter book you are beginning.
This is science and teaching kids to be observant! It can also be art through nature journaling!
I’ve never formally done a nature study in my life and I’m not artistic at all so it is outside my comfort zone for sure. I’ll be learning right along with my kids.
I have no clue when I’ll fit this in, but I’m not stressed about it at all, because I consider it extra and fun. The kids will not even know we are doing “school”.
We have been reading our kids the Egermeier Bible Story Book (we have this old edition my husband grew up with. It’s super detailed and he really knows his bible stories because of his parents reading this to him each night.)
I’d love to be more regular about daily bible reading, and make a plan for memorizing scripture with my kids each day. We have the time, I just need a plan.
What we are using for nature study
For nature study we will be doing one day a week co-op following the curriculum Exploring Nature With Children.
It’s a week by week study with ideas of what to look for, activities to do at home, poetry, and even comes with recommended books (including ISBN numbers) to rent from the library if you want.
Homeschooling with a toddler around
Homeschooling with a toddler around is hard and a reminder to keep anything we do short. I often get frustrated that we have to hit the pause button on whatever we are doing. So yep, working on my patience!
Sure, there are 1000 busy bag ideas on Pinterest, but sometimes those just don’t cut it if all he wants is mom. Send help and advice, please!
Realizations after a week of homeschooling kindergarten and preschool
1. I get extra time with my son.
On Wednesday, I met with our nature group and we spent the morning at a creek where the kiddos could catch minos, make mud tunnels, and even climb a small waterfall. We could do this because we homeschool.
On Friday, my husband called to see if we could meet him at the science center since he had a flexible morning at work. This was only possible because we homeschool.
2. It’s a lot to juggle
I get overwhelmed! But I think that has more to do with being at home all day. Homeschooling means fitting extra into your day. It’s a commitment to teach your kids what they need to know. It’s having your kids with you a LOT…like all the time.
But for now this is what we’ve chosen, and I’m going forward knowing that this is right for us right now.
And honestly, public school would be hard in a different way! It would mean planning around someone else’s schedule, drop offs and pick ups, and busy mornings. So there’s no stress free side.
3. It’s ok not to know your kid’s learning style or have a rhythm at first
This week was about making a habit of something new. I’m still figuring out what exactly I want a day to look like. It’s not going to be 2-3 hours of school subjects back to back.
It’s going to be 20 minutes here and there, and lots of reading. Most days we were done by 10 AM and spend no more than an hour doing school.
4. I am not a morning person
If I have a morning activity where we are out the door by 9, I am seemingly incapable of doing school before we leave. I just can’t seem to get it together.
Instead of getting school started by 8 I’m I’m chasing a potty training toddler, helping get littles dressed, lunches packed, sunscreen on, myself ready, etc. So that’s something to consider with how many morning activities I plan.
Also, this week I was SO thankful we didn’t have to be out the door by 7AM like other super moms who do school drop offs. You guys are amazing if that’s what you do each day! Seriously!
Ask me your homeschooling questions!
I’d love to know what your questions are in the comments, and how homeschooling is going for you if you have already started.