Yep, we’re homeschooling kindergarten! We’re unschooling kindergarten to be exact. I wrote a bit about how I plan unschooling preschool here and unschooling kindergarten is going to be pretty similar but with a few important differences.
But first, why unschooling?
I have chosen unschooling for kindergarten because:
- In NH, kindergarten is optional (so there’s no requirements to worry about)
- Many educational experts believe formal schooling shouldn’t start until age 6
- Unschooling makes sense with the way I parent (trusting my children to do what they need to in their own time)
- Unschooling makes sense with our lifestyle (two working parents and a 3 year old too)
I may, at some point, add in more “formal” learning, but for now an unschooling approach works for us.
Homeschooling kindergarten curriculum (Or my unschooling kindergarten plan)
Unschooling and curriculum don’t really “go” together since the whole point of unschooling is that you don’t need a curriculum to be able to learn.
But for those of us who were schooled in a more traditional way (read: most of us), it can be difficult to approach a school year without any kind of plan.
My preschool planning was a little more detailed because I felt like I needed to have a plan, though if I could do it over again, I wouldn’t have bothered.
I realize now that preschool (and even kindergarten) really don’t need to be structured learning years.
My unschool homeschooling kindergarten planning is more a way to wrap my head around the ways that OG is already learning and to be sure not to get in the way.
I also want to have some ideas in my back pocket for those times when her interests are stagnating and I need to throw some fresh ideas and inspiration her way (though I’m cautious about doing this too, since I know wonderful ideas come from boredom).
Here are some of the questions I’m answering in preparation for an unschool kindergarten year:
What can be learned on the homestead?
The short answer is: A lot!
Math – How many eggs are in the basket? How many chickens do we have? How many hens? how many roosters?
Which measuring cup is 1/2 cup? How can we put a whole cup into our recipe if we only have the 1/2 cup measure?
What time is it? When will it be time to eat lunch/feed chickens/pick vegetables? How many zucchini did we find?
You get the idea. There’s no limit to the math we can learn.
Just to be clear though, I don’t ask those direct questions usually. I don’t think it’s very nice to quiz kids (I wouldn’t like it). The questions come up in conversation like:
OG: We have lots of chickens.
Me: Do you know how many?
And she may decide to count them, or ask me to count them with her.
Science – How are chickens born? What do chickens eat? When do they sleep? Why do vegetables grow? How can we make them grow? Why are vegetables good for our bodies? And so on.
Language – We talk every day so language is obviously part of every day. OG has learned how to read “yes” and “no” because she just wanted to know.
Physical education – Running, jumping, and playing. This one’s easy.
Art/music – I’m an artistic/musical person, so this comes naturally. We just do it every day. Kids are also great at using drawing to work through thoughts and emotions, so as long as there is paper and crayons/markers available they will do art.
What can be learned at local events, activities, museums, etc.?
We are part of a homeschooling group that organizes field trips and play groups. We also have a membership to our local children’s science museum.
We take the kids to the fair, parades, parks, etc. Each activity has it’s own lessons but in general the kids learn:
- How to interact with other people and how to make friends easily
- Real life/hands-on skills (such as making cider, gravity, drumming, etc)
- Safety (learn that in crowds we have to stay close to each other)
Different subject matters are obviously strewn throughout field trips too. How much does it cost to get in? If I buy a lemonade will I have enough left for face-painting? What does the sign say? Different cultures listen to different music. When I blow into the wand a bubble comes out.
What is OG interested in?
We will always learn more when we’re interested in the subject matter, so I look at what OG is already interested in.
Currently she is into dinosaurs. When we went to the library I looked up some dinosaur books to check out (as well as other topics).
She is learning how big dinosaurs were, what they may have eaten, how long ago they died, etc.
She also has dinosaur figurines that she can count, float in water, and balance on the table. So much learning!
She’s also interested in outer space and I plan on getting some relevant books at the next library trip.
What might she be interested in?
I also think about what she may be interested in and get books and other materials on those topics in case it catches her eye. I don’t want her to feel like if she’s into dinosaurs that’s all she can be into.
Some ideas are different animals, seasonal topics like apples or pumpkins, and holidays that are coming up.
What resources can we use?
Library – I choose books for OG (5yo) and QC (almost 3) based on their interests or what I think they might like. They also choose some for themselves.
Starfall – This is a website that has learning games for kids. The age range is preschool to 2nd grade. I try to keep screen time limited but we definitely still do screen time. I prefer OG to do starfall over some other forms of screen time.
Green Kids Crafts – We tried this subscription for a few months but found that OG wasn’t necessarily interested in what was sent. It was actually a few months later that she opened them.
However, since then they have started offering one-off boxes so you can choose the theme and not be locked into a subscription. I think I’ll try the outer space box on OG since she’s already interested in that.
Children’s museum – Like I mentioned, we have a membership to the science museum so we can learn science anytime.
Adults who are interested in things – Since having a conversation with my brother-in-law, OG is fascinated by outer space. Adults who can share their passion are an amazing resource.
The internet – We can find just about anything online. Like I said I try to keep screen time to a minimum but if we’re looking up answers together that will facilitate some experimenting, observing, or playing, I don’t worry too much about it.
Workbooks – Now, this is not a very unschooling thing to do typically, but hear me out: OG loves workbook pages (at least some of them). She loves mazes and loves coloring and connecting dots and even counting and practicing writing numbers. I never assign her any workbook work or even expect anything from her regarding these workbooks but I do have them around for when she wants to do them. No pressure, no expectations. This is the one she’s using currently, but I just found a wipe-clean one that she could use and reuse, and even save for QC.
Homeschooling kindergarten: Unschooling schedules and routines
Unschooling doesn’t really “go” with a schedule either since learning is happening all the time. However, as a person who needs some structure I do have a routine.
Homeschooling kindergarten: Daily routine
This is a basic idea of our routine for the parent home with the kids:
- Wake up/shower/dress
- Feed chickens
- Eat breakfast
- Morning block – gardening may happen here, outings if it will be too hot later
- Late morning block – outings, homeschool playgroup, etc
- Screen time/quiet time
- Afternoon block – free play
- Dinner prep
- Evening activities – hanging out together as a family, more gardening here if needed
Homeschooling kindergarten: Yearly schedule/routine
Again, unschoolers don’t usually have a yearly schedule they follow as learning happens naturally with life. However, I find that it helps me feel more prepared.
It also helps me to let go of the times when learning is less of a priority and I can turn my teacher brain off.
Because I don’t yet have to adhere to state guidelines for school I don’t have a schedule for getting the full 180 days in, however I think it will be hard not to! Learning happens every day when we open our minds to it.
We will be following more of an agrarian calendar, meaning that we will probably school year round with breaks for planting in the spring and harvesting in summer/fall.
We’ll also take a break around christmas/new years and at other times as we find it necessary.
School will also have built in themes surrounding seasons, holidays, and planting/harvesting. Whether OG will be interested in those I don’t know, but she always has been. If she isn’t I’ll just move on.
For example, in September there will be lots of apples, lots of preserving, etc. I might take her apple picking and then plan to cook with the apples.
If she’s interested in that I might also find some printables about apples (drawing pages, mazes, etc.) and offer them to her. If she’s not interested then I haven’t wasted too much time (plus I can save them for later).
If I were to plan out a whole unit on apples and she wasn’t interested it would be a total waste.
The unschool, homeschooling kindergarten plan
That brings me to the plan. You can definitely just go by the seat of your pants, and if you’re good at that, go ahead and do it. I’m not so good at being spontaneous so I prefer to do a little planning.
This is what I do:
At the end of the week I think about what OG is into and then think forward to the next week. Do we need to make a trip to the library? Are there any activities or plans coming up for the week? What’s the weather going to be like? Then I make a tentative plan for the week.
If OG is into dinosaurs and there’s a dinosaur exhibit at the museum then I might plan to go. I may plan it for a day it’s going to rain.
If we need to get new books from the library I might plan that for a different day and look up some books that she may like (though I also do this 5 minutes before going to the library too).
I also think about other material we have available, like art supplies, toys that are favorites, or perhaps toys that need to be rotated.
Some weeks I just plan to be outside as much as possible. I know there’s always something to do in the garden and sometimes OG or QC wants to help with that (and sometimes they don’t).
There’s plenty of learning happening on those weeks too! Planning becomes more important to me in the winter when it’s easy to just stay inside sulking about the weather.
So, there you have it!
That’s my plan for unschooling / homeschooling kindergarten. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that the early years are for fostering a love for learning. Once they love to learn you can’t stop them!