curriculum

038. How Do You Homeschool Kindergarten?

how do you homeschool kindergarten

How Do You Homeschool Kindergarten?

Kindergarten is such an exciting time for both parents and kids! Maybe the idea of homeschooling is completely new to you, or maybe you’ve been researching the topic for a while and have finally decided to pull the trigger.

* How do you begin?
* What does my Kindergartener Need to Know?
* What does a day in the life of a homeschool Kindergartener look like?
* What curriculum should I use for my Kindergartener?

Episode 038:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
GETTING START PAGE >>
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

Kindergarten is such an exciting time for both parents and kids! Maybe the idea of homeschooling is completely new to you, or maybe you’ve been researching the topic for a while and have finally decided to pull the trigger. 

Be sure to check out our Getting Started in Homeschooling page. There you will find all kinds of resources like finding balance between multiple children, dealing with naysayers when you’re starting off, socialization questions, and more to guide you as you begin. 

How do you begin homeschooling kindergarten? (3:34)

Kindergarten
Curriculum Guide >>

The first step is to find out what your state requires. Every state has different rules for homeschooling, so it’s important to research your state’s homeschool laws. And note that there is often a difference between what a state requires for homeschoolers and what a state requires of public school students.  Sometimes, these may not be the same things at all.  In many states, there is a *minimum* age in which a child *can* register for public schooling and then there is a *compulsory* age for when they *must* start school. Kindergarten is often not required at all.  So don’t get too wrapped up in thinking you absolutely have to have your child homeschooling with a full curriculum at 5.  In many states, the compulsory age is 6 or 7 so you may have another year or more.

What does my kindergartener need to know? (6:26)

Our kindergarten advice doesn’t really vary that much from our preschool advice other than adding a Learn to Read Program if they are ready. Our preschool advice is to read lots of picture books together, do messy art and science projects, cook in the kitchen, have lots of imaginative/building toys- blocks, Legos, trains, etc.  Spend a ton of time outside- go for nature walks.  Get binoculars, magnifying lens, specimen jars and some local bird/wildflower/tree identification guides and take them with you.  Sing, dance, play musical instruments.  Get a tub of dress up items.  Play board games for math.  Preschool is so much fun!

Our podcast episode and webpage What should your Preschooler Know? has fantastic ideas that work just as well for 5- and 6-year-olds. It’s packed with valuable information and even includes resources that celebrate the power of play in education. This playful path to learning is such a joyous journey for your child. It allows them to develop age-appropriate skills without any pressure or need for perfection.

Homeschooled kindergartners engage in a wide range of activities and lessons that are designed to foster their early learning and development. While homeschooling approaches may vary, here are some common areas of focus for homeschool kindergartners:

Basic Literacy Skills: 

Kindergartners learn foundational skills in reading and writing. They explore letter recognition, phonics, and phonemic awareness. They practice writing letters, words, and simple sentences. They also develop listening and comprehension skills through read-aloud sessions and discussions.

Emergent Reading: 

Kindergartners are introduced to early reading strategies. They learn sight words, practice decoding simple words, and engage in guided reading activities. They explore age-appropriate books for new readers and stories, building their reading fluency and comprehension.

Math:

Kindergartners focus on developing their numeracy skills. They learn number recognition, counting, and basic addition and subtraction concepts. They explore shapes, patterns, and measurement. Hands-on activities and math manipulatives help them understand mathematical concepts in a concrete and engaging way.

Science and Nature Studies: 

Young children are naturally curious about the world around them, so science and nature studies should be incorporated into their curriculum. They should explore basic scientific concepts with Hands-on Science Activities like weather, plants, animals, and the five senses. They engage in simple experiments, observation-based learning, and nature walks to nurture their curiosity. 

Social Skills and Emotional Development: 

Kindergartners learn important social skills such as sharing, taking turns, and cooperating with others. They develop their emotional awareness and understanding of their own feelings and those of others. They engage in activities that promote empathy, kindness, and problem-solving skills.

Best Tips for homeschooling kindergarten (16:52):

1. Read a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction books every single day.

2. Keep lessons short.

3. Go outside for field trips, museum visits, and exploration.

4. Be flexible with time and routines. Take a break from the curriculum to follow their interests.

5. Review & Revisit.

6. Get creative when teaching concepts. 

7. Use a lot of hands-on activities. 

8. Have lots of play and social time. 

Art and Creativity: 

This age is perfect to provide opportunities for artistic expression and creativity. Do lots of art projects using different mediums and explore imaginative play through dress up. These kinds of activities help them with so much development. Like fine motor skills, expressing their ideas, and fostering their creativity

Physical Education: 

Physical activities and playtime are important for kindergartners’ development. They engage in gross motor activities, games, and exercises that promote coordination, balance, and overall physical well-being.

KINDERGARTEN SKILLS CHECKLIST

This age learns best through a combination of structured lessons, hands-on activities, play, and exploration. The focus is on fostering a love of learning and building a solid foundation for future academic pursuits. It’s also a time when they are developing socially and emotionally.

We know that parents want to know exactly what to do and what skills to master so we’ve come up with this list. We’ve found that combining resources likeHome Learning Year by Yearand What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know along with a combination of basic state standards helps us set goals for language arts and math for each grade.

My kids learned all about money and different coins with this Fun Cash Register

Kindergartner skills to master:

 These goals can become your benchmark for the year, allowing you to use various resources and activities to achieve them. This checklist can let you be interest-led while still meeting academic goals. Remember, there’s no “BEHIND” in Homeschool, so choose goals that fit them best.

Scroll down to download the complete list!

We have an entire episode about schedules, routines and rhythms where we talk about organizing your day.  While a rigid schedule is definitely not needed for small children, including kindergarteners, many kids do benefit by having a pattern to their day.  Kids like to know what is happening next and also having an informal routine or rhythm can really help make your day move more smoothly.

A day in the life of a homeschool kindergartner:

Here’s a sample schedule for a homeschool kindergartener. Keep in mind that flexibility is key, and you can adapt this schedule to fit your child’s needs, interests, and your family’s routine.

8:30 AM: Morning Routine and Circle Time

  • Start the day with a morning routine (getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc.).
  • Gather for circle time, where you can sing songs, recite rhymes, and discuss the day’s plan.
Create a morning routine with this Interactive Calendar and Weather Pocket Chart

9:00 AM: Literacy

  • Focus on literacy activities such as letter recognition, phonics, or sight word practice.
  • Engage in read-aloud sessions or shared reading activities.

9:30 AM: Math

  • Introduce mathematical concepts through hands-on activities, counting exercises, or simple addition/subtraction games. 
  • Use manipulatives or visual aids to support understanding.

10:00 AM: Snack Break and Free Play

  • Provide a nutritious snack and allow some time for unstructured play or exploration.

10:30 AM: Science/Nature Studies

  • Explore science topics related to nature, weather, or animals. Download your FREE Hurricane Tracking Charts
  • Conduct simple experiments or engage in observation-based activities.

11:00 AM: Art/Creativity

  • Encourage artistic expression through drawing on paper or sidewalk chalk, painting, or crafting. 
  • This develops creativity and fine motor skills.

11:30: Physical Education

  • You can do things like dancing, yoga, kicking a ball outside, going for a hike, riding a tricycle, or just simple exercises.
  • Play active games that promote coordination and gross motor skills.

12:00 PM: Lunch Break and Outdoor Time

  • Have a healthy lunch together as a family.
  • Spend time outdoors for fresh air, homeschool park day, with exploration.

1:00 PM: Social Skills and Emotional Development and Good Habits

  • Focus on activities that promote social skills, empathy, and emotional awareness. If you’re at a play day, help your child learn to share, and how to be a friend. You could also go on a field trip with friends to a museum or a wildlife refuge. These interactions were cornerstones for us at that age. 
  • Engage in conversations. If you’re home, you can role-play or play cooperative games or do a puzzle together. 
  • Model good manners and practice doing chores and habit formation

1:30 PM: Theme-Based Learning

  • Choose a theme (e.g., community helpers, seasons, or animals) and explore it through various activities.
  • Read books, watch educational videos, or engage in hands-on projects related to the theme.

2:00 PM: Independent Reading/Quiet Time

  • Have books that your children love available all the time and encourage them to read or do quiet activities like puzzles or drawing. Many children aren’t reading yet, but they probably have their favorite book memorized and love to look through them.
  • Provide a cozy space and quiet exploration. We always had an art area with paper in colored pencils that were available all the time. Remember, learning doesn’t stop when school is over. Kids are always learning and having these things available keeps them engaged.

So keep in mind that even though we listed times here, this doesn’t mean that you must be doing these activities for the entire time slot until the next one.  Really, kindergarten shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to an hour to accomplish a day.  But you can do a few minutes here or a few minutes there.

how long does it take to homeschool

This is just a suggested schedule, and you can modify it according to your child’s needs and your family’s routine. Flexibility is key, and don’t forget to include breaks and playtime throughout the day. Kids are going to learn more and retain more when they are interested in what they are learning so don’t be afraid to follow their lead. 

What curriculum should I use? (25:19)

We know how exciting yet overwhelming it can be to find the perfect curriculum for kindergarten. But here’s the thing, you don’t really need a formal curriculum at this stage! Remember, the skills we listed earlier are just a guide and many of the skills can be mastered through play. Research actually suggests that play-based learning is the way to go for young children like yours. You can create a rich learning environment right within the comfort of your home.

But we know that some of you are still going to want to buy a curriculum and get started. And that’s ok too! But I understand that you might still want some structure and reassurance that your child is covering important areas of kindergarten. Be sure that you spend some time deciding WHAT you want to teach and HOW you want to teach it. To help you, we’ve created 7 Simple Steps to Choosing Curriculum to guide you to find the perfect fit for your family.

So, let’s explore some popular publishers who offer homeschooling curriculum for this stage. 

Browse Through Our Full Kindergarten Curriculum List >>>

Blast off to Reading!

We really have made it a point to not recommend specific curricula on our podcasts and one of the reasons why is that it’s an ever-evolving thing.  Curriculum companies come and go, some change resources, and there are constantly new things coming on the horizon!

We’ve used Universal Yums for years. My kids LOVE them!

Universal Yums is a fun way to learn about geography and different people!

We’ve both been homeschooling a long time and who knows if we would have used some of the things, we did in favor of a lot of the things that have come out since.  So, this list comes to you with either our personal recommendations, or recommendations from other secular resources that we follow.  We keep an eye out and stay current on what’s new, and or what may be debatable or problematic with certain programs,

Facebook Resource Group:

As we mentioned before, homeschoolers really love to help each other out and share free resources. Many local groups do curriculum swaps and there are a lot of Free homeschool resources Facebook groups. Just this week we created a brand-new Facebook group for the sole purpose of sharing free and low cost homeschool resources. Since the popularity of homeschooling has grown so much since Covid, a lot of our go-to groups have been flooded with SPAM and it can be hard to sift through all that.

Homeschool Freebies & Support  for PreK-12
We created a new group called Homeschool Freebies & Support for Pre-K-12th. Join us and get all the goods!

This Week’s Freebie:

K-1st Grade Curriculum Choices

BTDT Homeschool was created with a heartfelt mission: to empower and give back to the secular homeschool community.

Through our informative podcasts, blog posts, daily inspiration, and a wide range of free printable tools, we aim to empower and assist you on your homeschooling journey.
New to Homeschooling>>>

We know how exciting yet overwhelming it can be to find the perfect curriculum. But here’s the thing, you don’t really need a formal curriculum at this stage! Remember, the skills we listed earlier are just a guide and many of the skills can be mastered through play. Research actually suggests that play-based learning is the way to go for young children like yours. You can create a rich learning environment right within the comfort of your home.

How do you Homeschool Kindergarten?
Learn More>>>

But we know that some of you are still going to want to buy a curriculum and get started. And that’s ok too! But I understand that you might still want some structure and reassurance that your child is covering important areas of kindergarten. There are many varieties of curriculum. To help you narrow down what’s best for your child, we created:

7 Steps to Choosing Curriculum >>

If you do choose to use curriculum at this stage, let’s explore some of our favorite choices broken down into teaching method/style:

Nature-based:

If your family loves spending time outdoors and believes in the power of nature, these publishers will be a great fit. They emphasize connecting children with the natural world and offer engaging activities and projects:

Literature-based:

For families who cherish reading and enjoy incorporating related projects and activities, these curricula are perfect. They often cover science and social studies through captivating literature:

Moving Beyond the Page>>

Play-based:

If you want to prioritize the benefits of play while homeschooling, these curricula encourage exactly that:

Slow and Steady Get Me Ready>>

Online Curriculum:

While young students thrive with hands-on activities and interaction, some parents find online curricula helpful for additional support. We actually do not subscribe to this method for younger learners.  Kids have all the time in the world to be online, and play based learning is just so much better scientifically and more effective for this age.

Traditional Curriculum:

If you prefer a more “regular” school-like experience with textbooks and workbooks, these publishers offer a structured approach:

Classical Education:

Classical homeschooling focuses on the three stages of learning: the Grammar stage, the Logic stage, and the Rhetoric stage. This curriculum is based on this time-tested method:

Learn-to-Read:

All About Reading>>

If you’re specifically looking for resources to support your child’s reading development, consider these options. Also know that our learning how to read episode has a lot of great resources too. 

Math:

Math skills can be developed independently, even during the early years of homeschooling. Here are a few reputable math curricula:

Handwriting/Writing:

Here are some handwriting curricula that you can consider to enhance your child’s handwriting skills:

Remember, you don’t necessarily need to follow a specific handwriting curriculum. You can also incorporate handwriting practice into your daily activities by providing your child with opportunities to write, such as writing letters, making grocery lists, sidewalk chalk, or creating simple stories. Ultimately, the choice of handwriting curriculum depends on your child’s learning style, your preferences, and the goals you have for their handwriting development. Consider what approach resonates with you and your child, and remember to make the learning process fun and engaging.  There is a difference between the physical act of handwriting and foundational writing- sentence structure, detailing thoughts, etc.  

Geography & Culture:

Universal Yums is a subscription service that delivers a box of snacks from a different country to your doorstep every month. Each box contains a variety of snacks, such as chips, candy, and cookies, as well as a booklet that provides information about the country’s culture, history, and food. It also contains games, trivia, and recipes to continue learning about the culture. It’s easy to build an entire UNIT STUDY around each country – and my kids love getting to “travel” from home.

We’ve used Universal Yums for years and have learned so much!

Science:

Real Science Odyssey (K-10th): Hands-on Secular and Science-Based Curricula written by real scientists and historians for K-10th grades. The curriculum from Pandia Press fits a more traditional learning and teaching approach. The style is textbook based with labs. This format is presented to be interesting and not boring at all and keeps kids engaged.

Curiosity Box In this monthly box, your kids ages 5-10 will enjoy 3 craft kits plus a small STEAM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) project We fell in love with these boxes! Everything you need – including instructions and supplies comes in the box. Each month has a variety of activities that my kids can do independently while I meal prepped or working one-on-one. Each box contains real, high-quality science equipment that we have used in OTHER experiments.

History (1st):

Curiosity Chronicles is a secular homeschool history curriculum written in dialogue form. Their two main characters, Ted and Mona, take students on a tour through history beginning in ancient times. Curiosity Chronicles takes a global perspective and includes the history of people all over the world. They cover cultural, artistic, and scientific history in addition to political history.

History Quest: This is Pandia’s newest curriculum which features hands on history curriculum for elementary ages. This would be great if you’re interested in more hands-on and less literature-based history.

We have made it a point to not recommend specific curricula on our podcasts and one of the reasons why is that it’s an ever-evolving thing.  Curriculum companies come and go, some change resources, and there are constantly new things coming on the horizon! We’ve both been homeschooling a long time and who knows if we would have used some of the things we did in favor of a lot of the things that have come out since.  This list comes to you with either our personal recommendations or recommendations from other secular resources that we follow.  We keep an eye out and stay current on what’s new and what may be debatable or problematic with certain programs.

037. 7 Steps to Choosing Curriculum

7 Steps to Choosing Curriculum

There are a lot of things to consider when deciding what to use. Don’t waste time and money on curricula that doesn’t work for your family. By following the 7 STEPS that we lay out for you, you will be able to find exactly what works for you to set your homeschool up for success. We also discuss how homeschooling looks different at different ages and more.
Tune in! 

Episode 037:

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Scroll Down for this week’s Freebie:
Curriculum Comparison Sheet (pdf)

Brand New to Homeschooling?
GETTING START PAGE >>
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

As veteran homeschool moms, we understand the challenges of sifting through the myriad of curriculum options available. There’s an overwhelming amount of options out there and it’s hard to decide just where to begin. Going online and searching homeschool curriculum is going to give you over one million results. This is why you want to spend time figuring out WHAT you want to teach and HOW you want to teach it. This will help narrow down those options and help you to find the perfect program for your family without wasting a ton of time, effort, or money.

If you’re withdrawing your student from a traditional school environment, be sure to check out our Deschooling episode, which is a vital step you don’t want to skip before you’re even thinking about curriculum. Deschooling is fortunately something you can do WHILE researching and deciding on curriculum.  Do not feel like you need to have this all planned out in advance and leave your child in a bad environment that isn’t working before withdrawing them from school. During this time, it’s important that you take this time to deschool too! The easiest way for us to get out of that ‘Public School Mentality” is to educate ourselves by reading about homeschooling and creating Lifeling Learners. You can do that with these TOP 10 Books Every Homeschool Parent Should Read.

Choosing curriculum 

We often see questions like: “what is the best curriculum for 5th grade?” or “what curriculum do you suggest for my 10 year old?” And of course, people are super keen to jump in there with suggestions right away. But those suggestions are what works for *them*. Before we suggest anything to you, we need more information!

Choosing a curriculum is so personal, so take recommendations as a list of places to check out but know there’s no such thing as a “best” curriculum, regardless of price. The best curriculum is the one that fits you and your family!

And before you even start down the path of choosing a curriculum, decide if you will (or need to) follow the state’s curriculum outlines, do your own thing, or a combination of both.  Consider what subjects you want to make sure you cover – like core subjects-math, reading, and writing and what things you personally consider as extras. Involve your child! Ask them and consider their interests and curiosities.  

From there you will want to follow the next 7 steps:

Step 1:
Check with your State Requirements (6:00)

The first step is to find out what your state requires. Every state has different rules for homeschooling, so it’s important to research your state’s homeschool laws. And note that there is often a difference between what a state requires for homeschoolers and what a state requires of public-school students.  Sometimes, these may not be the same things at all. To make this easier for you, we created a complete guide: State Homeschool Laws, and we summarize all this information including compulsory age and subject and testing requirements, which can vary from state to state. Don’t worry if your state has stricter rules; remember that homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, and you absolutely are within your rights to do this! 

Look up your State Law

In some states, homeschool students may need to track attendance or hours, and keep certain kinds of documentation of work completed. Students may be required to take standardized tests or complete evaluations or provide documentation of meeting certain standards. Knowing your state’s requirements is going to help you choose the right curriculum. You’ll want to strike a balance between what your state expects and what works best for you and your family. Remember, you have the freedom to tailor and individualize this – this is one of my favorite things about homeschooling! You’ve got this!

Step 2:
Determine your Homeschool Style and Philosophy (7:40)

To determine your home, school, style and philosophy, it’s important to understand your core beliefs and values regarding education. When choosing a curriculum, you need to find one that aligns with your philosophy, values, and worldview. Here are some points to consider:

Do you want a Secular, Non-religious curriculum

You may prefer a curriculum that focuses on academic subjects without any specific religious influence. Secular curriculum is designed to provide a neutral educational experience, free from any particular religious worldview.

There’s a lot of reasons why families choose Secular Curriculum – even a lot of religious families choose a secular curriculum.

There are so many different types of faiths and religions and often the creators and the program don’t align with a family’s beliefs. Those families typically choose a curriculum without religion, and then teach their moral, ethical and religious values outside of a curriculum.

Or you may want a Faith-based

Curriculum: On the other hand, if incorporating your religious beliefs into your children’s education is important to you, you may opt for a faith-based curriculum. These curricula integrate religious teachings and values into the academic subjects.

Each family has unique preferences and approaches to homeschooling. Familiarize yourself with different homeschooling styles:

Traditional Homeschooling

  • Follows a structured and formal education model similar to traditional schools.
  • Involves textbooks, workbooks, and teacher-led instruction.
  • Focuses on following a predetermined curriculum and meeting specific learning objectives.

Classical Homeschooling

  • Draws inspiration from ancient Greek and Roman education methods.
  • Emphasizes the development of critical thinking, logic, and rhetorical skills.
  • Follows a three-stage model known as the trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric).

Charlotte Mason

  • Focuses on living books, nature study, and the development of good habits.
  • Values a broad and liberal arts education, incorporating subjects like literature, art, music, and nature.
  • Utilizes narration and short lessons as common practices.

Montessori Homeschooling

  • Emphasizes hands-on learning and self-paced exploration.
  • Provides a prepared environment with carefully selected materials that promote independence.
  • Focuses on sensorial experiences, practical life skills, and individualized learning.

Waldorf Homeschooling

  • Emphasizes a holistic approach to education, nurturing imagination, creativity, and emotional development.
  • Incorporates artistic activities, storytelling, crafts, and rhythm into daily lessons.
  • Often discourages the use of electronic media especially in the early years.

Unit Studies or Project-based Learning

  • Integrates multiple subjects into a themed unit of study.
  • Explores a specific topic or concept across various disciplines.
  • Allows for an in-depth and comprehensive exploration of a subject.

Eclectic Homeschooling

  • Combines various approaches and resources to create a customized learning experience.
  • Allows families to pick and choose from different methods, curriculum materials, and teaching styles.
  • Offers flexibility and adaptability in designing a personalized education.

Relaxed Homeschooling

  • Takes a laid-back and flexible approach to learning.
  • Focuses on creating a low-stress environment and allowing children to learn at their own pace.
  • Emphasizes fostering a love of learning rather than adhering to a strict schedule or curriculum.

Unschooling

  • Emphasizes child-led learning and natural curiosity.
  • Encourages children to explore their interests and learn through real-life experiences.
  • Learning happens organically through everyday activities and self-directed exploration.

Online Schooling/Outsourcing

  • Not really a philosophy, but a delivery method
  • Focus is on traditional skills and content but delivered in a more tailored way, allowing for parents to be more hands-off
  • Could include live online classes, asynchronous classes, video lectures, or software based learning
View our Curriculum Guide>>

Remember, these descriptions provide a general overview of each homeschooling style, and there can be variations and combinations of methods within each approach. Feel free to explore and adapt different approaches to create a homeschooling experience that best suits your family’s needs and educational goals.  Some people start off with one method, and totally regroup as their child gets older.  Some may even use a variety of methods with different children in their own home. And that’s the beauty of homeschooling: customizing your experience for your student. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to selecting a style and curriculum. 

Step 3:
Set a Budget (15:59)

Setting a budget for your homeschooling materials is a smart move. Here are some simple steps to help you stay within your budget:

  • Determine your maximum budget: Decide on the maximum amount you are willing to spend on homeschooling materials. This will help you prioritize your expenses and make informed decisions.
  • Research curriculum costs: Take the time to explore different curriculum options and compare their prices. Look for affordable options that fit your budget. Check online resources, educational stores, or ask other homeschoolers for recommendations.
  • Consider additional materials: Keep in mind that some curricula may require extra materials like books, software, or supplies. Factor in the cost of these additional items when evaluating the overall expense of a curriculum.
  • Plan for extras: Think about other activities or resources you want to include in your homeschooling journey, such as outside or supplemental classes, field trips, projects, or unit studies. Allocate a portion of your budget for these additional experiences. Get your FREE Field Trip Bundle
  • Use budgeting tools: Look for homeschool planners or organizers that include a detailed budget section. These resources can help you keep track of your expenses and stay on top of your financial goals. 

More on Homeschooling on a Budget>>

Really do ask around to other experienced homeschoolers about what kinds of costs you can expect to incur. There are plenty of affordable and effective curriculum options available, and even free resources. But at the same time, mind the old adage “you get what you pay for.”  Expect to pay for the curriculum purchased because the person who made it put work and talent into that.  A lot of homeschool curriculum is written by other homeschool families and this is how they have been able to afford homeschooling. Remember, sticking to your budget doesn’t mean compromising on quality education. By being mindful of your budget and making informed choices, you can provide a great homeschooling experience without breaking the bank.

Step 4:
Learning Style, Needs, and Preferences (19:16)

A curriculum may fit your budget and homeschool values well, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your student. Every child has a unique learning style, and homeschooling offers the flexibility to tailor their education accordingly. Consider each child’s unique struggles and needs before you select a curriculum. Schools often rely on workbooks and textbooks and traditional group teaching methods, but homeschooling opens up a world of alternative approaches.

Here are some key points to consider when selecting a curriculum that best suits your student’s learning needs and preferences:

Individual Learning Needs

  • Take into account your student’s specific learning needs, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Consider their preferred learning style, whether they learn best through visual, auditory, or hands-on methods.
  • Think about any specific learning challenges or areas where they may need extra support or accommodations.

Personal Preferences

  • Recognize that what works for one child may not work for another.
  • Each child has their own interests, learning pace, and preferred methods of learning.
  • Consider their preferences for interactive activities, group work, or independent study.

Age and Developmental Stage

  • Keep in mind that what was effective for an older sibling may not be the best fit for a younger one and all kids mature at different ages.
  • Consider age-appropriate materials and activities that align with your student’s developmental stage.
  • Adapt the curriculum to match their readiness and abilities.

Learning Styles

  • Visual learners: These students benefit from visual aids, diagrams, and illustrations to understand and retain information.
  • Auditory learners: These students learn best through listening, verbal explanations, and discussions.
  • Kinesthetic learners: These students learn by doing and engaging in hands-on activities, experiments, and physical movement.

Flexibility and Adaptability

  • Remember that homeschooling allows you the flexibility to tailor the curriculum to meet your student’s needs.
  • Be open to adjusting and customizing the curriculum as you go along, based on your student’s progress and feedback.

By considering your student’s unique struggles, needs, and preferences, you can select a curriculum that is engaging, effective, and well-suited to their individual learning journey. Don’t be afraid to explore different resources, experiment with various approaches, and adapt the curriculum to create a personalized learning experience that supports your student’s growth and success.

Step 5:
Determine your Level of Involvement (23:07)

Some curriculum options provide detailed lesson plans and do most of the teaching for you. You can supervise and offer support as needed. Other options give you more freedom to teach in your own way while providing a basic overview of concepts. There are also options that fall somewhere in between, allowing you to customize your teaching approach. When it comes to choosing a curriculum for your homeschool, it’s important to think about your level of involvement.  

how long does it take to homeschool
Keep in mind that homeschooling doesn’t take as much time as public school

Consider how much time you have available for homeschooling, especially if you have other commitments or work from home. If you’re juggling multiple children and working full-time, you may prefer a curriculum that requires less instructor involvement and is more self-directed. If you have more time to dedicate to one-on-one instruction, you may opt for a program that requires more hands-on teaching.

Remember, the goal is to find a curriculum that fits your unique situation and allows you to create an effective and enjoyable learning experience for your child. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the options—there are plenty of resources available to help you make the right choice. Trust yourself and consider what works best for your family’s schedule and teaching style. 

Step 6:
Methodology (25:38)

Mastery vs. Sprial

Mastery approach (where you work on a particular set of skills until you have mastered them) or spiral (different skills are worked on at the same time but continuously circled back to as you slowly build abilities)? Teacher-directed instruction or student exploration? Much like identifying your homeschool philosophy, understanding your teaching method is also crucial.

What is most important to remember when considering the teaching method is the match between the student, the teacher, and the subject.

  • Research has shown that students with a learning disability benefit from teacher-directed, error minimized, mastery instruction in the affected area of disability.
  • Science often lends itself to more discovery in the structure of lessons allowing for student exploration with a spiral review of needed supporting concepts.
  • As students mature, they often need less structure and thrive off of more self-directed exploratory learning. In contrast, some less mature students need more structure and guidance to their learning.  
  • Many students find hands-on learning to be the most engaging, but some others find it confusing and overwhelming.

Reflect on the subjects or topics that you feel confident teaching. Recognize the areas where you may not feel as comfortable or knowledgeable.

Adequate Instructor Support

If there are subjects or topics that you lack confidence in teaching, look for a curriculum that provides ample instructor support. Choose a program that offers clear explanations, teacher guides, instructional videos, or additional resources to assist you in teaching those subjects.

Consider outsourcing: local brick and mortar, tutor, online

If you feel less confident in certain subjects, you may want to explore other options specifically designed to teach those subjects. Online platforms or tutors can provide expert instruction and guidance in areas where you may need extra support. Many communities now offer local brick and mortar à la carte classes.

Remember, it’s completely normal to have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to teaching different subjects. The key is to find a curriculum that aligns with your comfort level and provides the necessary resources to support your teaching journey. With the right curriculum and additional support, you can confidently guide your child’s learning and ensure a well-rounded education.

Step 7:
Research and Try before you buy (28:47)

Research and Read Reviews: Look for curriculum reviews from trusted sources, such as homeschooling websites, blogs, and forums. Read testimonials from other homeschooling parents to gain insights into how well a particular curriculum worked for them. 

www.Youtube.com

www.cathyduffyreviews.com

Once you follow the 7 STEPS for choosing curriculum, you will look for reviews from trusted sources, such as homeschooling websites, blogs, and forums. Read testimonials from other homeschooling parents to gain insights into how well a particular curriculum worked for them. Cathy Duffy’s website and 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum is a resource that can help narrow down the choices

In the future episodes, we are going to be doing some curriculum unboxing so you will be able to see up close as we look through the pages of a variety of resources.

Explore educational resources beyond traditional textbooks, such as novels, board games, documentaries, museums, local theater, non-fiction books, DIY projects, online courses, movies, Legos, encyclopedias, and more. Think about the activities your child enjoys in their free time and find ways to integrate their learning style and interests into academic subjects. Download your FREE board game templates!

When researching curriculum, you can also sample lessons. You can do this by viewing them online on the supplier’s website. You can often see sample lessons and reviews on YouTube. This will give you a glimpse of the teaching style, content, and overall structure of the curriculum. If samples are not readily available, don’t hesitate to contact curriculum suppliers and ask if they can provide you with sample lesson pages, either digitally or through mail. Getting a firsthand look at the curriculum will help you assess whether it aligns with your teaching style and your child’s learning preferences. Learn tips and tricks to Keep Learning Fun!

Another valuable resource is the homeschooling community. Connecting with other homeschoolers through forums or social media groups can also provide you with insights and recommendations based on their first-hand experiences.

Once you have access to sample lessons and insights from the homeschool community, it’s time to test-drive the curriculum with your child. By working through a few lessons together, you can assess how well the curriculum engages your child and whether it meets their specific needs. Pay attention to their level of interest, comprehension, and enjoyment during the lessons. 

And, like we mentioned earlier, if you’ve unenrolled your student recently, give them time for Deschooling. There’s a good chance that if you’ve just pulled them out of school, there’s not a curriculum on this planet that is going to engage them. They need to decompress from the environment that you just pulled them out of that potentially killed their love for learning. That’s why it’s so important to not skip this step!

Homeschooling can be a tremendous gift to your children—a personalized educational experience tailored to each kid’s interests, abilities, and learning styles. But what to teach, and when, and how? Especially for first-time homeschoolers, the prospect of tackling an annual curriculum can be daunting. In Home Learning Year by Year, Rebecca Rupp presents comprehensive plans from preschool through high school, covering integral subjects for each grade, with lists of topics commonly presented at each level, recommended resource and reading lists, and suggestions for creative alternative options and approaches.

Choosing curriculum looks different at all ages and stages.  (33:00)

It’s important to know that a child’s biological age does not always correlate with their “readiness” and their ability to comprehend a concept or develop a skill.

Preschool/Kindergarten (Ages 2-6)

It’s about learning through life and play. This age range is ideal to pick some simple goals for – things like life skills, language development, large motor skills (climbing on the playground) and some basic fine motor skills (how to hold a crayon.) This age should be non-pressure, non-stress for learning.  Everything can be learned via play.

This can be the start of early academic goals – such as learning to recognize letters and sounds or understanding and recognizing numbers up to 5. Another goal could be to learn how to print their name. This age group is also the perfect time to have goals around easy chores such as emptying the dishwasher, cleaning up toys, and putting laundry away. Be sure to check out our PRESCHOOL PAGE and Teaching your child HOW TO TO READ page and episode where we give a lot of tips and free resources for those early years.

Elementary learners

Elementary age homeschoolers are learning foundational skills in core subjects such as reading, writing, and mathematics. In language arts, they focus on phonics, vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills. Reading comprehension and fluency are also essential aspects of their literacy development. In mathematics, they explore basic operations, number sense, fractions, geometry, and measurement.

Science may include more hands-on experiments and observation-based learning and social studies is introduced to help them understand the world around them. Art, music, and physical education are also valued components of their education. Homeschoolers at this age are encouraged to pursue their personal interests and engage in independent reading. They may explore topics like space, dinosaurs, oceans, or any other subjects that capture their curiosity. The aim is to foster a love of learning, encourage critical thinking, and develop a strong foundation for future academic pursuits.

Top math Games
Learn Math Concepts with GAMES!

Middle School

If you have a new middle schooler, this is a great time fostering more independence. Middle school homeschoolers continue to build upon the foundational skills they acquired in elementary school while expanding their knowledge across various subjects. They explore more complex concepts and begin to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. Middle school homeschoolers focus on enhancing their reading comprehension, engaging in literature studies and developing effective writing abilities. They learn to solve more complex equations and concepts and expand their scientific knowledge and develop their understanding of scientific principles. They develop an understanding of government structures, citizenship, and civic responsibilities. Many middle school homeschoolers begin learning a foreign language during this period and have the opportunity to explore various elective subjects based on their interests. These can include art, music, computer science, coding, physical education, health, home economics, or other specialized subjects that allow them to pursue their passions. 

Overall, middle school homeschoolers aim to develop a solid academic foundation while nurturing their critical thinking skills, independent learning abilities, and self-motivation. They are preparing for the transition to high school by acquiring a broad knowledge base and honing their study and organizational skills.

High School 

High school is generally where classes get more specialized. In general, classes are divided into two sections: core subjects and electives. Core subjects are math, sciences, language arts, and social studies. Planning a general overview of the full high school experience can be helpful to organize what subjects you are going to complete when. There is also a lot finer tuning involved in planning high school curriculum as you begin to really focus on and prepare your student for what is going to happen after high school and beyond.  Our high school series will walk you through this entire process and go into a lot more detail than what we have time for in this episode so definitely give it a listen. 

BTDT HIGH SCHOOL SERIES

Lastly, when choosing a curriculum, think about setting specific goals. For example, what do you hope to achieve or what do you want your child to learn? About life? What is the purpose of education? What is your ultimate goal for your child? 

There are lots of wonderful curriculums out there, but sometimes as fun as they may seem, these curricula may not help reach your goal and your goal may change based on the means of your family. A lot of homeschoolers like to create a vision board for the year. We talked about this in our planning for your school year episode. Learn more about Planning Your Homeschool Year>>

Remember, finding the perfect curriculum is a journey, and it’s okay to make adjustments along the way. If you discover that the curriculum you initially chose isn’t the best fit for your child, don’t worry. Homeschooling grants you the flexibility to switch to a different curriculum that better suits their learning style and needs. The key is to approach the curriculum selection process with an open mind and a willingness to try different options. By taking the time to explore samples, seek advice from the homeschool community, and test-drive the curriculum, you can make an informed decision that sets your child up for a successful and enjoyable experience. Homeschooling offers incredible flexibility and the opportunity to tailor your child’s education to their individual needs and interests. Embrace this flexibility and adapt your approach as you discover what works best for your child. Remember to enjoy the journey and celebrate the unique experience of homeschooling together.

Facebook Resource Group:
Homeschool Freebies & Support  for PreK-12
Join the No-Spam Facebook Group

As we mentioned before, homeschoolers really love to help each other out and share free resources. Many local groups do curriculum swaps and there are a lot of Free homeschool resources Facebook groups. Just this week we created a brand new Facebook group for the sole purpose of sharing free and low cost homeschool resources. Since the popularity of homeschooling has grown so much since Covid, a lot of our go-to groups have been flooded with SPAM and it can be hard to sift through all that. So, we created a new group called Homeschool Freebies & Support for Pre-K-12th. Join us and get all the goods!

This Week’s Freebies:

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