Aug 9, 2016

Homeschool Beginnings: Our Plan for Junior Kindergarten

This fall our oldest will be junior kindergarten-age, so we plan to "officially" begin with homeschooling. As he won't turn four until the end of November (and I have a 2.5 year old who will tag along some of the time), I'm not planning on pushing a lot of formal academics yet. We hope to focus on reading together, following trails of curiosity, spending time outside, and having fun with arts and crafts.

That said, I did want to create a plan and flexible schedule to help me approach our days in an intentional way.

I love getting ideas and inspiration from other homeschooling parents so I thought I would add to the explosion of information record a bit of our own plan here. (Plus, it's nice to have something to refer back to.)

To begin, I made a list of what's important to us (some are on-going and some specific to our current stage):

  • We want to cultivate a love for books and reading.
  • We want our children to know Scripture and to have a biblical worldview as the foundation of education. (Most importantly, to know the God of Scripture and His love for them in the gospel.)
  • Enjoying nature. Time spent outside, and learning all about the natural world.
  • Music and developing creativity.
  • Introducing math and reading-readiness skills (as the child shows an interest - I want early learning to be fun, not to cause frustration or negative associations.)
  • Character and habits.   

With those things in mind, it's easier to think practically about what to include in our schedule and to consider curriculum.

A quick note on educational philosophy - I've read several books on Charlotte Mason style education, and have been so inspired by her understanding of children and learning. Perhaps in years to come we'll  implement her ideas more consistently, but for now we'll be incorporating some things and doing others differently. (For example, I believe she suggested beginning formal reading instruction at a later age but as our almost four-year-old is keen on learning, we're going to give it a try and see how it goes.)

Knowing what we wanted to prioritize and include in our homeschool, I requested some free curriculum catalogues and spent some time looking through those as well as online resources. If you're planning to homeschool and lean towards a literature-rich approach, I recommend getting a copy of the Sonlight catalogue even if you don't plan on ordering from them. It's a great resource just to be able to see all the wonderful book choices listed for each age or grade.

Again, this year is not going to be curriculum-heavy for us, but here's what I've planned to include:

  • Literature: When my sister-in-law was getting ready to move in the spring, she sent me a message asking if I was interested in a box of books she had picked up used back when she was considering homeschooling. She sent me a picture and I was so excited to see most of the books that are included in Sonlight's curriculum package for age four. She didn't even know I had been considering it! So, fifteen bucks got me most of the books here. I do have the instructor's guide (which includes activities and extras) but will probably come up with my own schedule of working through the books in our read-aloud time.
  • Bible: We have several Bible and devotional books for the kids but will probably be focusing on The Jesus Storybook Bible and Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing in our morning Bible time together. And for memory work, a simple catechism or verses.
  • Letter and sound recognition/learning to read: We have not consistently worked at learning letters (and I'm okay with that!) so we will probably take the first half of the school year to completely learn the alphabet. We have this puzzle, which is fun but obviously not necessary. I think we'll aim for a letter a week up on our bulletin board (upper and lowercase), but pointing out letters as we read together or go about life (store signs, etc) is the most helpful, and fun. When we're ready to start learning to read (uh, him, not me), I'm going to go with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. The reviews and success stories for this book are amazing, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes for us!
  • Math: We have these counting bears which are also not necessary (you could use buttons, etc) but sometimes you just need some fun manipulatives! For number recognition, we're going to have some flashcards up on our bulletin board. We're going to use the counting bears to work on counting, sequencing, adding, etc. If you search for "counting bear printables" on pinterest you can find some neat things. 
  • Science and Nature Study: Nothing formally planned but our kids love learning the names of flowers or birds when we're outside and have enjoyed observing different insects in jars this summer. They'll be curious about something so we look it up in a book or observe and talk about it. Isn't that one of the best ways to learn? I thought it would be fun to get a Backyard Bird poster and put out a feeder this winter to see how many species we can attract and identify.
  • Music/Art: I am not very consistent with planning projects but hope to get out paints or playdough, etc at least a couple afternoons a week. And here's my music tip: I put on music for the kids while they eat lunch. I swear it cuts down on the fights and loudness. Somewhat. I'd love them to be exposed to many genres of music so we've been taking CDs home from the library. Last week it was peanut butter toast and French Playground. This week I picked up a Vivaldi collection from a thrift store for a dollar.

I was going to include the four-day schedule I made up for the above but it's quite simple and this is getting long! Let me know if you'd like me to include it in a future post although again, nothing novel! 


  1. I have heard of Sonlight - I'm going to have to look them up now! We are starting Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons with Wyatt this year - I've heard so many people use it! I love your approach, and that's mainly what we are doing with kindergarten too - I don't have a set curriculum, just a couple of guides for me as we work on reading, writing, and math! I'd be curious to hear what books you are reading aloud. I am planning on reading aloud each day to the kids too, and I'm trying to get a book list going!

  2. I feel sure that you mentioned your new blog address, but I must have forgotten. So it was fun to catch up! I also noticed that your links are still in order. Mine have disappeared. :(

    I'm having a tricky time figuring out David's preschool readiness. He is very verbal and creative, but seems to resist structure. So I get frustrated trying to do specific activities. I don't know if he'd be more willing if we called it "school" and had a schedule. It all sounds so simple when you describe it. But David just isn't that into books right now, for example. I feel like a failure! Every few months I test the waters and get out some letters and/or numbers to look at, but he never seems quite ready. I think he COULD memorize them, but I don't know if that is a reason to start. I got a book for him with tracing activities and he had no interest. Anyway, I feel like there are so many materials out there, and even supplies in our own house. We have everything we would need to do preschool, but I'm just not sure about the timing or even necessity. It's a dilemma for sure. But I think most of the things you mentioned would be a great foundation regardless of how the academics go.