“No big deal. You’ll do fine! It’s just Kindergarten.”
Everyone tried to reassure me that I had nothing to worry about. My husband was very encouraging and didn’t even doubt a bit that I’d be able to pull it off. Yeah right, I thought. When I was faced with my first time being a homeschooling mom, it was the Kindergarten year for my son. I had never been a school teacher, and I never desired to be one. I had never been homeschooled. I had always been in a traditional Christian school setting. This was uncharted territory to be sure. Although I was excited about the prospect, I was extremely nervous. My biggest fear was messing up some critical component and creating an insurmountable learning gap! I’d have the state education board after me for failing my competency requirements! I could ruin his beautiful mind and turn it all to mush!
Ok, I wasn’t that dramatic. I was very apprehensive, though. The school year started with my researching and downloading and pinning. There were lists of things every Kindergartener should know. Twenty tips on how to organize your classroom. Gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Should we be a part of a homeschool group? Should we not? What curriculum should we use? Can he tie his shoes? etc. etc. etc. You’ll have to picture my eyes glazing over.
I’m here to tell you that I survived! And as we take our summer break before Matthew’s 3rd grade year, I can look back and see that I really didn’t have to be so scared and it didn’t really have to be so complicated. I ended up just taking a big breath and starting our first day. Then I did it again the next day…and the next day…and so on. Now we are preparing for our third child’s Kindergarten year. The apprehension is gone. I wouldn’t say it will be easy, but it will be simple. So at the request of a couple family members and friends, I will share with you our very simple Low Stress Schrepfer Kindergarten.
Only two things. Really. There are a lot of lessons a Kindergartener can learn and will learn, but I’m going to give you just my two main goals that I always kept in mind. I figured all the rest was icing on the cake, and that turned out to be true.
This was my greatest worry. Teaching my kids how to read. It is such a foundational thing. They really can’t afford to have mom mess this up! BUT if this was the only really academic thing that I focused on for the year, then I could handle that. Reading lesson was not always easy, but it was something that was worth the effort. It saved me future struggles as well. So that’s what I focused on.
2. School Structure
That is, I wanted to get the kids into the routine of school. School time was not going to be as flexible as other household activities. By making it a priority in our day, it showed the importance of it. It was setting a ground work for future years of homeschool. Especially as they get into the high school years, they will need to learn the discipline of getting somewhere on time and meeting deadlines. All of that starts when they’re young. It also establishes me as the teacher. This is school time, not mommy time, so to speak. This part of Kindergarten, the daily structure, turned out to be very helpful as my son progressed toward the more challenging and full school days. I’m glad I made that a priority even in Kindergarten.
So for the Schrepfers, we go to our homeschool room and begin our daily opening exercises at 8:30 a.m. (9:00 a.m. on Mondays for this preacher’s family!) The kids really actually love this part. We do the pledges, complete with medium sized American Flag and Christian Flag and our Bible. Each child gets a turn holding the flags and Bible and that child gets to pray to ask God to help us through our school day. Some days we sing our “Days of the Week” song and our “12 Months in a Year” song. On Fridays we do Show and Tell, an indispensably favorite time! The kids each take a turn telling about one item, and then we ask questions about that. That’s it. No more complicated than that.
Days of the Week, 12 Months in a Year from MostlySensible on Vimeo.
As I’ve posted before, we decided to go with ACE for our main curriculum. I found out that under the ACE curriculum, they do have a Kindergarten program that teaches phonics reading, and I was prepared to begin that. We had two options with the ACE curriculum. Children could begin (1) as “Readers” which is basically 1st grade, or (2) as a “Reading Readiness” level which is Kindergarten. But I discovered that several of my homeschooling friends had used a book called “100 Easy Lessons” and they all were good readers, so I really wanted to use that. (Click the link for a full review of this book.)
Consequently, I combined the 100 Easy Lessons book with the 1st Grade ACE Curriculum. Our Reading Lesson time was the only real part of the day that took effort. The rest was really easy. We only did 3 of the ACE subjects, and those were ones in which I had to read a lesson to my kindergartener and then he did a workbook page or two. One subject was Animal Science which took them through one animal that corresponded to a letter in the alphabet. This was good for animal knowledge but also for reinforcement of the letter sounds we were learning in our Reading Lesson. We also did the Bible Reading PACEs which were really good! All the kids enjoyed listening to the Bible Stories, and then my kindergartener did the workbook pages at the end. The third subject was Math, but we only did the first three PACEs. In this way, my kids would complete some of their easy 1st grade work and would finish their 1st Grade PACEs on time at the end of their 1st grade year.
Here is what a typical Kindergarten morning looks like.
8:30 – 9:00 – Opening Exercises, then settle each child into their respective subject matter.
9:00 – 9:45 – Kindergarten Reading Lesson
Break (this was typically long and very flexible depending on how the other kids were doing and how stressful / successful the reading lesson was.)
10:30 – 11:30 – PACE work
Afternoons – music practicing, sports practices, computer lessons*
Sometimes we took another break within the PACE work time, but that was not typical because my kids loved doing the workpages so much. As you can see, it really was not a big deal. When I went through all of this with my first child, it turned out to be a great time for me to learn how the ACE system worked, how to record grades and keep track of his permanent record. I try to squeeze in some crafts too, but my aspirations seem to be higher than the reality of juggling four kids and their schoolwork.
This year, I will have a Preschooler, a Kindergartener, a Second Grader, and a Third Grader. Busy days! It gets easier each year, I can tell you that! This has been totally feasible for this reluctant homeschool mom, and I hope a peek into my days is helpful to you!
And don’t forget to check out what we do for Low Stress Preschool in my companion article.
*Important Note: Most states do not require you to even report that your child is being homeschooled until 1st grade, but you’ll want to check on that in your state. Alaska is VERY homeschool friendly, and they even reimburse us for educational expenses if we want to join an approved homschool group which is what we do. Our homeschool group requires us to have two core subjects through them and two non-core subjects. So we do Looney Tunes Phonics and a TechnoMath (computer knowledge) through them, and then we do Music and PE for our non-core subjects.