Awww…kindergarten. A time before life gets complicated. When I started homeschooling my first child for kindergarten, I planned to homeschool for 3 hours a day to match to our local public school. That lasted for about…well…never. There is still too much childhood to enjoy to justify sitting and doing formal school. Our kindergarten curriculum choices reflect our desire to give our kids lots of free time and learn through play.
Since I had no experience homeschooling, with my first child I decided to purchase a boxed curriculum. After looking through a variety of options such as Book Shark and Timberdoodle, I ultimately decided to buy the Waldorf-based Oak Meadow curriculum. I really liked the gentle, well-rounded, not-overly-academic philosophy it promoted. Even though I loved everything in the curriculum and it didn’t require an excessive amount of work from the parent or child, I just got tired of always feeling like we were falling behind.
I would think things like, “Ugh, I don’t WANT to go look at the moon tonight! I just want to get these kids in bed!” Had I given myself a break and NOT felt like a slave to the checklists, I think I would have stuck with our boxed curriculum longer. I ended up giving it to a friend. She uses it as more of a loose guide and loves it.
After giving up on the Oak Meadow curriculum, I decided to just wing it. Every morning at breakfast (around 9 am), I’d read a couple library books to my kindergartner and his two younger siblings. This was my absolute favorite time of day. As long as we made time to read for a half hour or so, I always felt like it was a productive day. Throughout the day we might do another formal activity or two, but we still had plenty of unstructured time.
My later children have received slightly more formal education in kindergarten, because the morning time we spend together is now meant to include older children. Also, they are always welcome to join us when I do activities with my older kids, such as science experiments or history and geography work. Some days my kindergartner and preschooler really want to be included. Other days they want to run off and play. At this age, I leave that up to them.
Below is a summary of what I think are good Kindergarten curriculum choices. Please note that I did not do all these activities with all of my children. All children are different, so do what works for you. Also, when I list a workbook, know that none of my children EVER completed a workbook in Kindergarten.
My primary Language Arts goals in Kindergarten are for my kids to know their upper and lowercase letters, their letter sounds, and to be on their way to reading. In addition to the resources below, read aloud to your child as much as possible. Be sure to include both fiction and non-fiction sources. Occasionally have a discussion with your child afterwards. That way you can casually assess how much they are retaining.
- Doodling Dragons is a great book to practice the alphabet and its sounds. It includes uncommon sounds for all the letters (such as S making an S and Z sound), which helps kids decipher more words.
- Find books at an appropriate level for your child to practice reading. The Tug the Pup book series is great for non-readers. There are three box sets in this series. Elephant and Piggie books are perfect for kids who have graduated from Tug the Pup. We also have used some of The Measured Mom’s free emergent readers.
- Handwriting Without Tears: Kindergarten Level instructs kids on how to form the letters properly. All of my kids have naturally wanted to start their letters at the bottom.
- Be sure to have plenty of books to read aloud during the school year. In kindergarten, my kids have enjoyed books such as My Father’s Dragon, the Mouse and the Motorcycle, and Trumpet of the Swan. Check out my Best Books for Kindergarten list for more ideas.
- Bravewriter’s Jot It Down has been great inspiration. Although we’ve hardly done any of the activities exactly as presented in the guide, it is full of wonderful ideas that are easily adapted to individual children. The guide has inspired me several times to find ways for my kids to write that were fun and meaningful for them.
- If you feel you need more guidance to turn your child into a reader, check out Bravewriter’s Wand curriculum or Logic of English Foundations Level A. I have used both in the past, but I didn’t stick with either for a whole year. In my opinion, the Wand is better for parents who prefer a more open-ended, adaptable guide. I learned a lot about how to teach my child that I extended on my own once I gained in confidence. Foundations is better for parents who want a step-by-step checklist. It is very thorough, but I found it to be a little too rigid and time-consuming for our family.
I do not have a preferred curriculum for math. Rather, I like to make sure my kids acquire certain skills by the end of the year. For example, in kindergarten we work on counting, identifying shapes, simple addition and subtraction, and being able to write numbers. As someone who LOVES math, it is important to me that my kids develop a positive attitude toward math.
In order to encourage this positive attitude, I like to use a lot of hands-on manipulatives, especially in kindergarten. I always sit with my child while they work on math to make sure they don’t get frustrated. We also typically limit our math sessions to 10 or 15 minutes a couple times a week. Since they are not spending a lot of time on math, personally I like to pull what they work on from first grade curricula. That way even though we are formally spending just a little time on math each week, I know they are being prepared for first grade.
Below are some of the resources I have used for math in Kindergarten.
- I like to use Montessori-style manipulatives to help kids learn place value. Here is a set on Amazon and here is the DIY set that I made several years ago and still use with my kids.
- Interlocking cubes are really helpful when you are teaching kids to carry and borrow in older grades, but they can be handy even in kindergarten for simple addition and subtraction.
- A teaching clock will be more helpful in first and second grade, but it’s a good idea to get your kindergartner familiar with the concept of telling time.
- As I mentioned, I like to choose first grade problems to work on with my kindergartner. Despite it’s name, Kumon Geometry and Measurement Grade 1 provides a nice overview of counting, number recognition, and other topics I want my child to know. While I don’t make my child do the entire workbook, each week we select problems from the corresponding week in the book to practice together.
- If that first grade Kumon workbook is too challenging, I also like Critical Thinking Co. Mathematical Reasoning Level A workbook which is also very thorough and intended for Kindergarten.
- I like to introduce my children to logic puzzles as early as possible since I think they are fun. So far all of my kids love them as well. Mind Benders Book 1 by Critical Thinking Co. is a great introduction to this style of puzzle for kindergartners. We also like Lollipop Logic.
If you have older children, science is easy. Just include them in whatever your older child is learning. Let them sit and listen to the books you read with your older child. Include them in experiments. If you need to provide samples for documentation, make them copies of the older child’s worksheets and help them fill them out. Another option is to just let them draw a picture to go along with whatever they learned. You can have them copy a sentence at the top if you wish. Sometimes I also make dashed lines or write in highlighter for them to trace.
If you don’t have any older homeschooled children, science is still easy. There is absolutely no pressure in kindergarten and there are so many fun science related activities. Here are some easy real-life suggestions for what you could do to learn about science. Pick up a picture book or two to go along with your chosen activity and your child will receive a very thorough, engaging introduction to the field of science. Please note that I never did all of these activities with a single child in one year.
- Go on nature walks. Look for bugs, birds, animal tracks, and scat. Try to learn the names of local plants.
- Talk about the different seasons and notice changes that occur in the weather and in local plants.
- Go outside after dark to look at the stars. Learn to find the moon and the Big Dipper. Notice how the moon doesn’t always look the same throughout the month.
- Plant some seeds or a whole garden. Water your plants and watch them grow. Talk about how plants need sunlight.
- Set up a bird feeder and learn to identify local birds. Use binoculars for fun.
- Collect and press leaves.
- Spend time looking at the clouds and tell your child they are made of water. Talk about how when it rains, that water falls back to the earth, then evaporates to make new clouds.
- Let your child mix baking soda and vinegar for fun chemistry demonstration.
- Go on field trips to places such as a zoo, natural history museum, science center, or local outdoor habitat.
- Let your child watch The Magic School Bus (also available on Netflix) or Wild Kratts. Better yet, watch with them with your child so you can talk about what they learned.
- Read the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book series. These books includes topics such as dinosaurs, animals, the ocean, and space.
- If you are looking for a science kit appropriate for this age, two of the best kits our family has used are My First Mind Blowing Science Kit and Magic School Bus: Explore the Wonders of Nature.
- If you are still looking for fun science related activities, check out my science page for some step by step tutorials.
As with science, if you have an older child, social science is a no-brainer. You do not want multiple children working on multiple curricula. If you make a plan for social science based on your oldest child, your youngest children will get a very thorough education. Recently our family has completed the 4 year Story of the World cycle. That means my second child learned about the Middle Ages in kindergarten and my current kindergartner just completed Vol 4: The Modern World. In kindergarten, my kids do not do very much written work. Basically, they just listen to the chapter read aloud, color the pictures and timeline labels in the activities guide and label the maps with help.
If you are just starting out and your oldest child is in kindergarten, I recommend holding of on an official curriculum for atleast another year. There are so many fun, age-appropriate activities you could do with your kindergartner, that there is no point in rushing. Here are some of my suggestions.
- Since the 4 year history cycle, if you choose to follow it, does not include a year that focuses on your own nation’s history, kindergarten is a great time to cover this subject. If you live in the U.S., I recommend Adventures in America or U.S. Facts and Fun: Grades 1 – 3 (your kindergartner may need help with some of the writing, but the content is appropriate).
- Watch Liberty’s Kids to study the American Revolution or Disney’s American Legend to learn about tall tales in American history.
- Alternatively, our family has greatly enjoyed using Evan Moors history pockets. Ancient Civilizations or Native Americans would be great ones to do in kindergarten. Although they are labeled Grades 1 to 3, my kindergartners have always enjoyed coloring the projects while listening to the readings. There is very little writing required.
- I really like the book A Life Like Mine for helping kids understand how different other children’s lives are around the world.
- Use a globe or map to point out locations that come up. In kindergarten, my geography goals are to have my child know where they live (continent, country, state, city), and be able to identify the 7 continents. This has been more challenging with some of my kids than others.
- If you are looking for a geography curriculum, I highly recommend Evan Moor’s Beginning Geography. We have tried others and in my opinion, this one is by far the best. (Though note that I am not strict about completing every page. At my most, my kindergartners probably completed half the pages.)
- Geopuzzles are also a great way to get kids thinking about geography.
I hope these recommendations of our family’s kindergarten curriculum choices have been helpful to you. Kindergarten is a time when you are really free to enjoy your child. Be sure to read lots of books, play lots of games, and spend time outdoors. All children learn at a different pace and on their own schedule, so please do not worry that your child is falling behind academically. If you are enjoying life together, I promise they are learning.