My fifth child is starting his kindergarten homeschool year, and this is honestly one of my favorite ages! They are excited about learning, and everything they do is bathed in curiosity and wonder. I love this age so much, I used to teach kindergarten in a public school! I’m going to share how to homeschool kindergarten, along with some of my favorite kindergarten homeschool materials.
How to Homeschool Kindergarten
The very best way to homeschool kindergarten is through play. This is how kids learn! They need to get their hands on the materials, lean into their curiosity, and make discoveries. Their imagination will lead them to learning! So while I do have learning materials we use, everything we do is play-based. And I give my kindergarteners LOTS of unstructured play time – meaning that I am not directing their play or giving it a purpose or timeline.
Open-ended toys, dress-up clothes, puppets, and art supplies are all a crucial part of homeschooling kindergarten! Kids learn far more through play than they ever would through a workbook.
Access to Learning Materials
Give your kids access to learning materials so that they can use them whenever they want. I like to have a shelf in our homeschool room dedicated to my early learners, since their needs are different than my older kids. They need hands-on materials to manipulate.
Now keep in mind, you can homeschool kindergarten with VERY little. You don’t need a lot of supplies! I’ve accumulated a lot of materials over the years, but they definitely aren’t all necessary.
Watch this video to get a peek at our kindergarten corner and the materials we use in our homeschool:
Just because your kids are kindergarten age doesn’t mean your kids are ready to learn how to read. In fact, many kids aren’t ready in kindergarten! Some of my kids were already reading in kindergarten, some were FAR from ready to read, and my current kindergartener is just starting to learn to read. It’s really important to follow your child’s lead – and this is why PLAY is the best teacher! Often, when kids are playing, they are learning without even realizing it.
I haven’t used a “traditional” phonics curriculum with any of my kiddos. They learned through play and some play-based learning activities.
I took the activities that I used to teach my own kids how to read and developed a play-based reading program. It has over 100 hands-on learning activities that teach phonics and how to read through play instead of worksheets!
This is exactly how I taught my own kids how to read, and it works with the way kids develop. This program isn’t just for kids learning letters, though. It’s for kids PreK-2 and covers letter recognition, letter sounds, rhyming, sight words, word building, and more!
We also spend a LOT of time reading books together at this age (and well beyond this age). If you just read your child two to three picture books a day for their entire Kindergarten year – and did no formal learning at all – they would still learn SO much – vocabulary, sentence structure, how language works, and they would learn about the non-fiction topics you read too.
We use a lot of learning games, hands-on learning materials, and manipulatives to teach math. A math curriculum may not be necessary at this, and I haven’t always used one for kindergarten. But it is the only curriculum I would purchase for this age, if I chose to and felt like my child was ready for it.
If I feel like my kids are ready at this age, I have sometimes used the support of a math curriculum. The two that I have used and recommend are:
I don’t push this though. If they don’t want to do it, I don’t make them. My current kindergartener likes to have a workbook to be just like his big brothers, but he doesn’t always actually want to do it. ;) He learns just as much (and often even more) by playing board games, card games, or playing with math materials on his own than by doing pages in a workbook.
I love to use learning invitations for all my kids, especially my young learners. Basically this means that I put out an activity to invite my kids into learning. I don’t direct the learning myself – I let them be in charge of the learning!
Here are a couple examples of learning invitations:
Family style learning
Most of our other subjects are taught family style in our home. We primarily do literature-based unit studies (I teach you how to do this in my course Homeschooling the Non-School Way), so my kindergartener is learning alongside my older kids. We use journaling so that each child is learning at their own level. If there’s a topic my kindergartener wants to learn about, I get books about it!
But when my kindergartener is not interested in being involved in our group activities or doesn’t want to sit and listen to the books, I don’t make him. At this age, it’s more important for his brain and body to be playing – if he prefers to do his own thing, that is just fine with me.
Life skills and habits
The early years are where you lay the foundation of life skills and forming good habits, so incorporating these into your day is important. Having your child chop vegetables alongside you, learning how to clean up after themselves, and developing their character will teach them much more than worksheets and busywork will.
Hands-on & sensory activities
Engage their senses with music, art, and hands-on activities like playdough. These do not have to be fancy themed activities or gorgeous flatlays like you see on Instagram. You don’t need to plan elaborate crafts. These can be incredibly simple!
Science and nature study
Kindergarten age kids are naturally curious about the world around them – bugs, plants, animals, weather, etc. That’s why nature is the perfect science “curriculum” for kindergarten. Observe, make connections and discoveries, read books, draw pictures, write about what you observe, and have conversations about why things happen in nature. This requires zero workbooks and actually requires zero prep – just go outside regularly!