When I was creating our kindergarten homeschool schedule and gathering ideas for curriculum, many moms said, “Don’t fret. Work on reading and math and let them play!” While that’s great advice, I wanted some specifics, which is what I’m going to share with you. You probably have questions like what a typical day might look like, how much time it takes, supplies to have on hand, and maybe even need some curriculum suggestions.
What I’ve found is that it’s not that hard, it’s not very time consuming, and I’m happy with all the extra memories we are making as a family!
Being with your kids all day
I was used to being home with kids all day while we homeschooled preschool. If you are already doing that, then kindergarten at home will probably not change your life too much.
If you are ending a preschool program away from home, then you may find homeschooling more of an adjustment just learning to be around each other all day and having less time to yourself.
More posts for homeschool moms:
Start to gather ideas for reading, writing, and math
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One semi-frustrating thing for new homeschool moms is that there’s no “right” way to homeschool. If you ask 10 moms how they homeschool kindergarten, you will get 10 different answers. And 10 different curriculum choices.
You kind of have to have a pioneer personality and then just try something. Even still, I find it really helpful to get a glimpse at what others are doing to get ideas and a sense of what’s normal for others.
There are many pros and cons of homeschooling to consider, but if you know your why, then you can 100% homeschool kindergarten no problem.
If you are stressed about how to start, and want to see our very simple, relaxed homeschool kindergarten routine and curriculum choices, keep reading!
Our first week homeschooling kindergarten
With that being said, I will never forget the awkwardness of our first week. All I did for kindergarten was a math lesson in the morning, and it felt weird to say “Ok today’s our first day of school!” (and then it was over in 20 minutes).
We added in one new thing each week to ease into a routine. This was way less intimidating and eased us into school. I highly recommend it!
One morning, when the other kids were in school, I took my son to a creek with another homeschool family. We stayed for 2 hours while he looked for bugs, dug a dirt ditch, and climbed up a small waterfall. The absolute best part of that first week was that day when I realized I was getting time back with my son.
If he was in school, he would not be with us at the creek. He would not go with us to the science center anymore. He would play with other friends instead of his siblings.
Know the law for kindergarten homeschooling requirements
One thing you must know before you start homeschooling kindergarten is what your state requires. Some are VERY lax, where you just have to report attendance. Others require documentation of each required state subject, grades, and more.
I had to pay to sign up under a cover school, notify our local school via certified mail that we would be homeschooling, and keep attendance.
If you’re not sure, head to HSLDA, the homeschooling legal defense association and see what your state requires.
It’s also a great idea to become a member with HSLDA as they will defend you in the case that you are wrongly accused of something by your school district or state. This happens from time to time but is unlikely.
Think about your goals for kindergarten
First you should come up with a general idea of what you’d like to accomplish this year. How much can you reasonable spend on this new expense? Feel free to check out how much it cost us to homeschool kindergarten. Then, you can start the arduous task of looking for homeschool curriculum.
For kindergarten, think about things like:
- What subjects will be your core (for us it’s reading, writing, math)
- How much time would you like your kids to play outside each day?
- What habits need practiced, like teeth brushing, chores, etc.
- What local places would you like to make an effort to take your kids?
For us, I wrote a checklist of everything I wanted to fit into our homeschool schedule. We don’t do it all every day! Here’s our list:
- Sibling relationships
- Work on kids completing chores
- Make homeschool friends for myself and kids
- Utilize memberships we have
How much time does homeschool kindergarten take?
We do about 45 minutes a day of structured learning, chopped into 2-3 chunks. Plus LOTS of play, outside time, and unscheduled learning activities like painting, legos, and more. I’ll break that down for you later.
I’ve really liked doing school 4 days a week. We do a nature co-op for a couple hours once a week and go to Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) once a week.
At BSF the kids have the same teacher each week and fun activities for 2 hours while I do a bible study. It’s an international program so look online to see if there’s one by you!
Why homeschooling kindergarten doesn’t take as much time as a classroom setting
Most homeschoolers don’t tally up the amount of time they spend on things like:
- bathroom breaks
- recess (playing outside)
- transition time between subjects
- arts & crafts
- hands on activities like Legos (aka play)
- library visits
- music lessons (if any)
- answering copious amounts of questions all day
For fun, check out this post that figures out exactly how many instructional academic hours are spent at school. She subtracted so many things like standardized testing days, half days, lunch, PE, library time, and much more. It came out to 1 hour and 47 minutes per day to replicate the instruction taking place in the elementary school system!
You actually do many of the things included in a public school day, you just don’t count them.
What homeschool moms who used to be elementary teachers have to say
One homeschool mom I know who used to teach kindergarten said 1 hour of her full day kindergarten was spent doing potty breaks! She said it was during the first half of the year until the kids were able to go with a buddy. Waiting in line and hand washing takes time!
Two other homeschool moms said their days now look nothing like when they taught public school. They said when they initially tried to replicate public school schedule…it didn’t work at home.
You don’t need a homeschool room
We don’t have a homeschool room. Someday, I’ll probably make more of an official spot. But for now, we homeschool at the table, on the couch, and on the living room floor. It’s perfect for what we need, now.
I just bought this yellow metal rolling cart, and I think I fell in love! It holds almost all homeschool books, except our math activity box. Somehow it takes all the homeschool clutter and makes it look cute!
Here’s our complete list of homeschool supplies we like for kindergarten and nature study.
Can you homeschool without knowing your style?
If you are new to homeschooling, I want you to know that you absolutely can homeschool without pinpointing “which method” you agree with or want to use.
You will hear categories like Charolette Mason, Classical, Eclectic, Montessori, Unit Studies, and Unschooling.
Holey Moley did this stress me out. I didn’t know what in the heck I thought about each one, or what would work for my personality and my kids.
So instead of picking curriculum that was supported by one method or another, I basically just chose curriculum individually for each subject I wanted to cover. (Ironically, I learned what I chose is called “Eclectic”)
I do recommend reading this post on homeschool methods, mostly to inspire you to see all the possible ways you can do it right.
When you don’t know your kids learning style yet
I just want to assure you that it’s ok not to know your kid’s learning style yet. You are new and figuring out a very basic homeschool schedule!
I’m half way through kindergarten and just starting to understand what my son loves, how he responds to workbooks, what he resists, what makes him stubborn.
Our kindergarten homeschool curriculum
One thing that helped me decide on curriculum was to do a YouTube “flip through” with whatever book you want to see inside. Tons of people literally flip through homeschool curriculum books to give you an idea of what the pages are like inside.
It’s super helpful!
What we use for kindergarten math
I really like our level k math from The Good And The Beautiful! It’s on par grade for grade with public school so level k is kindergarten math, and level 1 is what you would see first graders covering.
I spend about 5 minutes reading it before calling my son over, and then the full thing takes us 20 minutes tops. We do this about 4 times per week, and take days off when I’m just drained.
It’s full of color, games, cutting and gluing, story problems, and comes with all the math manipulatives. My son asks for it and loves it!
Read my full level k math review here!
Other math programs I considered:
Master Books: Math Lessons For A Living Education. Many Charlotte Mason homeschool fans use this and like it a lot. It’s a more gentle approach, shorter lessons, and contains math stories, and contains Christian values within the stories.
What we use for reading
Depending on your child’s age and interest, this is probably the year they will learn to read! It’s SO exciting when they do! Remember just because some kids learn at age 4 or 5 doesn’t mean that learning at age 6 or 7 is bad.
We use Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons, a phonics based reading program that teaches sounds and letter names. It’s no prep! By the end of the book your child will be at a second grade reading level. We used that with my son around age 5 and went slowly over the course of 1 year.
Here’s how we used it to teach my son to read, with a video of the book!
Even though he was able to read words “at a second grade level”, he didn’t want to by himself if they weren’t short and simple. We used a hand me down set of beginner books with a few short sentences on each page. He could sound it all out on his own, and enjoyed them. Bingo! These really built his confidence.
Use the library for beginner reader books
We started going to the library once a week (and still do) to get books. Some he would read and some I would read to him. My kids are now ages 2, 4, and 6 so I feel like we can manage it. But when they were 1, 3, and 5, we didn’t go (ever) because it was SO stressful!
With a new reader, I picked books with a couple sentences per page so they didn’t scare him off. Then one paragraph per page. I would increase the length of book once we started to run out too quickly.
If there’s a book he really likes, I search for the author on our library’s website and request more books written by the author. The library has them waiting for me with my name on them when we get there!
He reads so much now (about an hour a day), and many days it’s all the “school” we do for him.
Read out loud often
So many mamas told me if I only have time for one thing some days, it would be reading out loud. I’m taking this to heart! This is unscheduled. When I feel like it and for however long they seem to listen.
I bought these Illustrated Classics below off of Ebay, but they are condensed versions of classic books with a photo on each page.
What we use for writing
Right now we do:
- 10 minutes of tracing each day
- Copy the date (which is part of our math lesson actually)
- Copy 1 short sentence from something I’ve written or from a book.
I will admit, writing has been hard for us with my oldest. He doesn’t like it. And his hand movements are much sloppier than his younger sister because she has about 10,000 hours more voluntary coloring practice than he does!
Since we have taught him how to write his letters and he can read, I thought he’d be able to just write words on his own by thinking of how it sounds.
It really frustrated him, and so we paused and work on tracing instead. I think this will help his brain to recognize how to write sound combos he can read but can’t write.
What we use for tracing
First I bought Trace with me sight words, which has 100 sight words to trace. They trace a word a few times and get to practice writing it too.
We actually are not studying sight words at all this year, but I thought it would be good to practice writing them. He can read them, but can’t yet write them without looking at an example.
I also bought the “doodle” and “level k” handwriting booklets for $12 from The Good And The Beautiful. Worth. Every. Penny! 100 pages. It recommends doing 10 minutes a day so that’s what we do and he does it cheerfully.
I just love how they include little games and coloring as part of it! We only ever use one tracing book on any given day, but own many.
Why we are not doing sight words
Somehow my son just learned to read sight words, and I don’t really know how.
I think it was through The 100 Easy Lesson reading book. It covered many sight words calling them “funny words”. Others he may have just learned through reading and being read to.
Many other sight words can actually be sounded out rather than memorized if you recognize the letter pattern. For instance, “like” “little” and “long” all have sound combinations that are taught in 100 Easy Lessons.
How we teach the bible
If you aren’t familiar with a “morning basket”, (which can be used at any time of the day), it’s basically a literal basket with a few books or activities you want to read to the whole family at once.
This is how we do “Bible”. Cuddle on the couch. Read a bible story. Read a verse you want to memorize each day. Ask a few questions.
Right now, we try to read the kids a bible story every night from Egermeirs Bible Story Book. We have the pre 1950’s version (the same used one in the link with a red cover). I guess they changed it a bit after that. It’s more detailed than most children’s bibles, and the kids seem to be able to pay attention a lot better around age 5.
We just started this to be honest… it’s never too late to start! The most simple way to do this is to read the same verses in the bible every day that you want them to memorize. For us right now, it’s Psalm 23. Pretty soon, they’ll be able to mumble parts that come next. My goal is that they’ll be able to recite it alone.
I don’t care if it takes 1 week, 1 month, or longer. It’s not a race, there’s no pressure, and everything they soak up is a win to me.
Update at the end of kindergarten year: We spent the whole school year gently memorizing Psalm 23. I’m so thrilled the kids can say it! First I read it out loud, then had them join in, and eventually would just say part of the next phrase to see if they could finish the verse. I also had my son copy one line at a time for his copywork.
I put this print out on our fridge for easy access, and I’d look at it when they would practice it by memory to see if they skipped anything.
Short Q & A
We have also just started using New City Catechism for kids in the morning. It takes about 2 minutes. If you’re not familiar, it’s a small booklet of about 50 questions with very condensed answers on the nature of God and biblical truths.
It’s not overwhelming, and teaches a lot that I might not think to talk about. We do about 2 questions a day and review a couple from the day before.
Other unscheduled kindergarten activities to add in
We have nothing formal for history, science, or art, but we are learning all those things. For example:
- Kiwi Co STEAM boxes (read my review here)
- Educational shows (anyone else have kids that have seen ALL 16 seasons of Wild Kratts and know animal facts galore??)
- Exploring Nature with Children (science!)
- Nature journaling cool finds (art!)
- Tempura Paint (art!)
- Read aloud books in different time eras (history!)
- Baking (applied math, science!)
- Science experiments! Use YouTube, science centers, and this experiment book perfect for kindergarten and elementary age. My kids were blown away by the easy “unpoppable balloon”.
So what does our kindergarten homeschool schedule actually look like?
We “do school” for about 45 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week. We are going to school year round, doing shorter weeks and taking breaks for often.
I aim to finish it in the morning, but often times it works better for me to do my sons’s math in the afternoon when it’s quiet and the other two are napping.
I’m a very unscheduled person, but my kids do better when they know what to expect that day. Since I have no desire for an hourly schedule, we have more of a daily checklist. My next goal is to get a physical checklist on the wall somewhere.
Update: I created a chore chart/routine chart for us to use. It can be printed and written on or laminated.
Here’s a general look at our homeschool schedule with my kindergartener. He can do the tracing alone, but everything else requires me to be there.
- Morning basket with bible verse & questions from New City Catechism kids (5-10 min)
- Math (20 min)
- Tracing/copy work (10 min)
- Read out loud (10 min)
- Bible Study Fellowship (Takes the whole morning with getting ready, driving, and an errand while we are out)
- Tracing/copy work
- Morning basket with bible
- Tracing/copy work
- Read out loud
- Morning basket with bible
- Tracing/copy work
- Read out loud
- Nature co-op
- Read out loud
Get outside as much as possible
One of the best gifts you can give your kindergarten aged kiddo is to take them outside and go explore.
I’m not a huge outdoorsy person by nature, so I’m pushing myself to go to new places and intentionally get outside. It’s refreshing to the brain, gets you exercising, and teaches you to pay attention to what’s in front of you.
We bought the book “Exploring Nature With Children” by Raising Little Shoots. It’s a week by week nature study with poetry, book recommendations, art to look up online, small extension projects, and a weekly nature walk with things to look for. It’s so so good! I don’t do all the things, but will be using this year after year with all my kids.
Follow the Instagram hashtag #exploringnaturewithchildren to get incredible ideas of things you can do with your kids based off of this book.
It’s taught me two things. 1: You’re never too old to start learning about nature! And 2: Pay attention to what’s in front of you seasonally. Ask what it is and how it works!
The best tip I have for homeschooling kindergarten
One of the best (and easiest) things you can do for your kindergartener is to answer their curious questions. Thank goodness for homeschooling in an age with Google!
My son said “I wonder where they take our recycling.” I actually don’t know much about recycling plants at all so we went onto YouTube and watched all about it. It was fascinating!
It’s no big deal that you don’t remember the order of the planets. Or the parts of an ant. Or why leaves turn colors in fall. You can say, “I don’t know, lets look it up!”
I am learning just as much in some areas as my kids. No shame!
What are your homeschool questions?
If you made it this far, I’m impressed! Leave me a comment and ask me any questions you have!
You may also like: Our kindergarten and first grade curriculum picks 2020-2021