Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Homeschooling for Preschool and Kindergarten

The preschool and kindergarten years are the perfect time to test-drive homeschooling, especially if you’re not sure that homeschooling will be a good fit for your family. The good news is that, at this young age, you really don’t need a formal curriculum to homeschool, and it doesn’t need to cost a lot, either.

There are plenty of computer programs, both online and on CD-ROM, to get kids started learning colors, shapes, numbers, and even building letter recognition skills. Some even use cartoon characters to catch children’s attention. Many such programs also have some type of assessment or informal quiz periodically, which can really help parents to see how well their child learned the material.

Generally though, most preschool and kindergarten kids do fine without all that. Sometimes simple is better. Kids this age need plenty of parent interaction, reading books, playing games, doing fun craft projects, and just learning about their world through everyday activities.

If you need some general guidance, one helpful thing is to work on fine and gross motor skills. Building blocks, lacing cards, and even coloring and painting will help with fine motor skills. Even teaching kids to tie their shoes is an appropriate part of school at this age. Frequent playtime with running and jumping, or playing with a ball, for example, will improve gross motor skills.

At the preschool and kindergarten age, kids will benefit from a wide range of teaching methods, and the materials don’t need to be anything fancy. It’s all about building a strong foundation for the future, and if you’re new to homeschooling, it’s a great age to try homeschooling on for size.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum

Choosing a curriculum for your children is a huge decision, and a very personal one. While the available options may be very similar, each family approaches the decision differently. Your outlook may be colored by the circumstances of how your children were previously educated. Maybe you’re pulling them out of a troubled public school system with a substandard curriculum, or your spouse lost their job and suddenly expensive private school is out of reach. Or perhaps you’re beginning to homeschool right from the starting line, in kindergarten, and don’t know where to start.

One option that some families transitioning away from public school prefer is commonly referred to as “e-school”. This is basically a public school curriculum done from home on a computer. There are several private companies that each state contracts with to provide these services. Often, the state even pays for the child to have a computer at home for doing schoolwork.

However, most homeschoolers choose their own curriculum from the multitude available. Some choices include curriculum-in-a-box options where the texts and workbooks for an entire grade level are bundled together. There are also single subjects available separately. The great part about picking and choosing your own curriculum is that you can choose a math book from a publisher known to be strong in that subject, and a science program from a publisher respected for its science texts. You can also have a child working at grade level in one subject and either up or down a grade in another subject, so that your child’s curriculum is tailored to their needs.