What to Teach in Kindergarten

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Kindergarten is such a great year of school with everything being new to your child in the world of academics, but it can be intimidating to you as a new homeschool teacher. What exactly does a kindergartner need to be learning?

Language Arts

Reading readiness is the main emphasis and core of the language arts program in kindergarten. Letter recognition and sounds are paramount and lay the foundation for being able to read. Once your scholar is comfortable with them you can have him begin to read sight words. Kidzone has a sight words page that you can download for FREE.  For penmanship have your student practice writing the alphabet, printing their full name, and practice copying the sight words they are learning.

Math

Colors, number recognition, counting, and adding numbers to 20 are the concepts to concentrate upon throughout the year. Cutting with scissors and basic shape recognition are taught as well.

Social Studies

Knowing what a community is and how this operates is the main emphasis of study. Your student should know their address, phone number, community helpers such as: pastor, doctor, dentist, firefighter, police officer. letter carrier, and nurse are some of those professionals that your kindergartner will recognize and know what each of their jobs entail.

Science

The human body, weather and animals are all introduced in kindergarten. A basic knowledge of each of these topics is all that is needed for your young student.

Health and Safety

Since your student is learning about the human body you can easily incorporate nutrition and disease prevention to fulfill the Ohio requirement for homeschooling your student.

Above all, have a fun year!

~Lisa

Starting School

apple_and_slateboardIt’s nearly the end of August and that can only mean one thing- school is starting! (yay!) If this is your first year, or you are a veteran, I thought you could use some points to keep in mind. May you have a wonderful school year. :)

Make the first day (or week) special. Fix a special breakfast of pancakes or French toast, get out the books, sharpen pencils, talk about what you are going to do for the year, do a little math and reading. Ask your child(ren) what areas of study would they like to do and plan to incorporate that into your school year.

End the first school day on a happy note. Finish the day with an art project or bake some goodies together. Be sure to take a first day of school picture. It will surprise you as you look back at the end of the year in the spring to see how much your student has grown.

Once you get the first day under your belt, what else is there to keep in mind?

Set a time to begin and a time to end. What time is best for your family? Be sure to keep a set time for everyone to begin school. Also, pick an ending time so that you aren’t doing school until dinner. Everyone needs a break and you should be able to wrap up your day when your student is in elementary school by 12:00 if you begin at 8:00. If you have a kindergartner, your time will be much shorter.

Do math and reading every day. When you stay consistent in these two areas, progress will take place and your student will do well. Of course, the other subjects need to be covered as well, but can be a few days a week instead of each day.

Make school fun. How can you do this? Find something your family enjoys doing and incorporate it into your schedule. One of the things we looked forward to was a read aloud book. You can do this after lunch when everyone is settling into an afternoon routine or do it before bed when your husband can read it to all of you.

Have a great year!

Spelling: Does it Matter?

With all of the subjects that need to be covered when you are homeschooling maybe you are wondering if spelling really matters. Well, if you don’t know how to spell correctly, things could turn out different from what the writer intended. For instance, look at this sign. According to this, it pays to be towed. :)

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I believe spelling is intended to do the following:

  • clearly communicate~ (Do you mean their, they’re or there?)
  • provide a standard for our language~ Things get mixed up quickly if words are not spelled correctly. For example: I was reading a book or I was reeding a book.
  • demonstrate you are an educated person~ I once saw a billboard that said “_____’ s Toeing Service” I wasn’t inclined to have my car towed by that company due to how their misspelling of the word made me wonder if they knew what they were doing. I know that sounds harsh, but that was my thought.

So, here are some recommendations for spelling curriculums I have reviewed this past summer. Here are my top three picks:

  • All About Spelling While this is teacher-intensive at first, it is a terrific program and has been proven to work. It uses the Orton-Gillingham method of phonics and reading. If you have a child that is a kinesthetic learner it would be a great program since letter tiles are used. The whiteboard is also utilized for students who do not like to use paper and pencil.
  •  Spelling Workout focuses on phonetic patterns with vocabulary being introduced at higher grade levels. It has crossword puzzles to reinforce skills as well as a short editing exercise to incorporate spelling and grammar. I like the idea of incorporating other disciplines of language into related subjects.
  • Sequential Spelling Patterns of words are studied instead of lists of unrelated words. (tall, fall, ball, taller, tallest etc.) This also uses the Orton- Gillingham method.

Grammar Resources

“Aww! Do we hafta keep doin’ grammar?”  is the complaint I heard from my children in middle school. Based upon the use of grammar in the question asked, what do you think? Grammar is essential, especially in this age of written communication. Just one misplaced comma or period can make the context of your sentence mean something totally different from what you had intended.

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Goof-Proof Grammar is a downloadable pdf middle school handbook. It has a 38 question pretest that will show specific areas to study. If you are wanting to use this for multiple students, place the pages in plastic page covers and keep in a binder. Have your students use a dry-erase marker to answer the questions or have them write their answers on a separate piece of notebook paper.

Does your student need more help with commas? The book, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves uses cartoons to contrast the difference a comma makes in a sentence. For example: Look at that huge hot dog!  is on the left side of the  page and on the right side it states, Look at the huge, hot dog!

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If you like this book, Lynne Truss has a title called Girl’s Like Spaghetti that addresses the issues of apostrophes. One more book in the series is called Twenty-Odd Ducks that spotlight hyphens, parentheses, quotation marks, periods, and more.

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If your children enjoy poetry, here is a book for younger students that makes punctuation come alive with fourteen fun poems.

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I have to post one more “real life” sign that made me laugh. I hope you enjoy it too.

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Writing a Cover Letter for Homeschooling

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A cover letter is optional for sending your notification letter to the superintendent when you are notifying. However, it is a nice idea and the person who is receiving your papers can see what you have included in your packet of information. Here is a sample of what that might look like.

Homeschool Family

123 Street Name

Anytown, OH 45000

Superintendent Smith

123 Street Name

Anytown, OH 45000

Dear Superintendent Smith,

This is to inform you that we will be homeschooling our child___name of student____, for the 20__-20__ school year. Attached are the following documents: the Home Notification Form, a list of the intended textbooks and curricula we are using, and list of the intended topics we will be studying.

Sincerely,

Your Name

No other information is needed to send to the superintendent unless you homeschooled last year. Which in that case, you will need to either send in test results from a nationally standardized test, or have a written portfolio form signed by an Ohio certified teacher (such as myself), or some other option that has already been approved by the superintendent. An example of that would be a certified teacher from a different state.

Have a terrific school year!

~Lisa