I had the opportunity to talk with a friend at church who will be beginning to homeschool her oldest son for kindergarten this fall. She was interested in hearing my recommendations for homeschool kindergarten curriculum. In my opinion, kindergarten should be kept simple. For formal school I recommend phonics, handwriting, and math. This conversation occurred several years ago, but I revisited this post and found my recommendations are still the same.
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So far I’ve taught 4 kids to read and I’ve used 3 different phonics programs, plus some on-line resources.
Alpha Phonics – This spiral bound book is a simple, no-frills phonics program. The pages are white with handwritten style lettering. The text uses word families to teach reading. For example, the student would learn -at, then add letters to the beginning of -at to make cat, hat, fat, mat, and bat. In addition to word lists, there are pages with sentences throughout the book. (Read my complete review.)
Phonics Pathways – This is also a simple phonics program. There are cartoon drawings on many of the pages. This book teaches reading using syllables and spelling patterns. Instead of learning -at with an m in front is mat, Phonics Pathways begins with teaching the syllable ma- then adding a -t to the end.
Happy Phonics – For William I had to think differently, because he is so different from my older children. First, he wasn’t really overly interested in learning to read. Second, he doesn’t sit still very well. When I tried the first 2 books with him, I couldn’t even get him to focus on the page. After doing a little research, I discovered Happy Phonics. Happy Phonics consists of lots and lots of colorful games, cards, and small booklets to learn phonics. For the first time, I was able to get my son to look at the letters. It definitely requires more teacher prep than the other programs -the program comes printed on cardstock, with all the cutting to be done by the teacher – but it was a worthwhile investment for us. This program uses mainly the word family approach to reading.
Explode the Code – I used this fun workbook program with William in addition to Happy Phonics. I also used Explode the Code with Anna as a supplement to Phonics Pathways and with Lizzie as a supplement to on-line programs. These workbooks provide excellent reinforcement to the phonics concepts being taught in most phonics programs. They have funny line drawings and silly sentences. These books require the student to write. There is also on on-line version available.
Ideally, I would have used either Phonics Pathways or AlphaPhonics with Lizzie. But I never got a chance because she already knew how to read! She did use 2 different on-line programs. I think that she learned to read with those along with her natural readiness to learn. I’ve heard of children teaching themselves to read. I would not go so far as to claim that, but she’s definitely come the closest. She used both Reading Eggs and Reading Kingdom. Links are to my reviews of those programs.
Handwriting without Tears – This is the only handwriting program I’ve ever used for kindergarten. Designed by an occupational therapist, the approach to writing is very logical and sequential. Each letter is broken down into its component parts, and similar letters are learned together. All the capital letters can be written using long lines, short lines, small curves, and large curves. The basic program consists of a workbook and a slate. There are many additional accessories that are available and I’ve added to our collection over the years. I especially liked the wooden letter pieces for William. He used the letter pieces and the letter cards and learned all his letters in about a month.
Earlybird Kindergarten – I used this math program with William. (Not exactly this version, this is the new U.S. Standards version.) The text contains colorful pictures and is a fun introduction to numbers, counting, shapes, addition, and subtraction. I used the textbooks alone without the teacher’s guide.
Miquon Math – For David, Anna, and Lizzie, I used Miquon Orange for their math curriculum in kindergarten. This is a unique program, that is discovery based. It makes extensive use of Cuisenaire Rods. They all both loved this program. William really loves using the rods, but there are some portions of Miquon that I have found to be too abstract for him.
Miquon Orange is technically a first grade program, but I used it is conjunction with Singapore 1A to ensure that we thoroughly covered beginning concepts before encountering too advanced problems. Using both programs allowed for variety at a slower pace.
Singapore 1A – Singapore Math is a math program that stresses understanding of mathematical concepts from the beginning. Story problems are introduced early and are very thoroughly taught. I use both the textbook and workbook, but have not invested in the teacher’s guides.
Add in a library card and a variety of books, and you have everything you need for kindergarten. Here’s a list of great picture books from the 1000 Good Books list.
But, if I were starting again with my oldest child in kindergarten, I would probably also add Five in a Row. I didn’t use it when we were starting out, but had an opportunity to review it with my younger son this past year. It is a unit study curriculum revolving around terrific picture books for younger children. You can read my complete review here.