This year I’m teaching Kindergarten for the first time…in my house. While our friends and family are incredibly supportive (and excited!) strangers who discover our daughter will be homeschooled occasionally grimace & ask what is wrong with other educational options. Let me get this out of the way: I don’t think traditional schools – public or private – are evil. I don’t think parents who choose not to homeschool don’t love their kids. But I do think homeschooling is RIGHT for us in this season. We’re not homeschooling out of fear or distrust – we’re homeschooling because it’s awesome.
Last year, we did a “practice run” homeschooling Pre-K4. It was a blast! After flying through all my Pre-K materials, she asked for “real school books”. We jumped into Explode the Code Books A, B & C (phonics) and Singapore Math, as well as a Preschool book that worked through the 6 days of Creation (science, art projects, songs, etc.). We made monthly visits to the zoo, Botanica, Wichita Art Museum and Cowtown for classes in science, art and history. We borrowed books from the library on any and every subject that interested her, and we made weekly visits to my grandma (and others) in her retirement home to deliver cards, treats and hugs. Our lessons were completed at the kitchen table, in the back yard, and on the living room floor. I do freelance work from home (with random events and meetings to attend 3-5 times per month) and have a 2-year-old son who still needs to nap, so this flexibility is key for us!
“Ok,” you say. “But what do you DO?
Is it expensive? Is this even LEGAL?”
Last year’s “curriculum” was a great match for our family, and the whole experience was a great on-ramp into homeschooling kindergarten. I followed my daughter’s lead and moved more quickly in areas where she excelled (language, art, music) and slowed down a bit when she needed more time to wrap her mind around a concept. At the beginning of the year, I give her a grade-level assessment to see what she has retained and what we need to master over the course of the schoolyear. Explode the Code and Singapore Math were both a very good fit for her, so we’re continuing with the next books in the series (pictured above). She will learn how to tell time, denominations of currency, and how to use a calendar. We will continue our classes at WAM, Cowtown and Botanica not only for social interaction and classroom experience, but for the unique hands-on approach to learning that they offer. We will play games, do crafts, and she will spend a LOT of time on her own – completely unstructured – entertaining herself and using her imagination.
The cost of materials (the usual school supplies and textbooks) and museum classes for our 2015-2016 schoolyear is approximately $150. Our library card and zoo membership come in really handy, as do local storytimes! I use a free Excel spreadsheet I found on Pinterest to track our “official” records (grades, textbooks completed, events attended, field trips, books read, etc.) and a $5 planner from Target to jot down weekly lesson plans on the monthly calendar (with more detailed explanations of our activities and time spent on the daily pages). I also purchased an adorable desk through a homeschooling group on Facebook for $20 since we plan to incorporate more of a “classroom” feel this year…technically, that puts us at $170.
In the state of Kansas, “homeschooling” is not recognized by statute. By the time your oldest student is 7 years old, you must register your “Non-Accredited Private School” (you can do so online) and declare your school’s name and Custodian of Record. More information on homeschooling in Kansas and laws regarding homeschooling are available on the Kansas State Department of Education website.
Do you homeschool your kids?