Home Schooling Your Kindy Kid

March 18, 2020 at 4:55 pm (Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff)

Suddenly your kid is home from school and you’re expected to do a teacher’s job with little or no help?

I have many years of experience as a teacher and tutor, not to mention being a mum of two. This blog entry is designed to make things more manageable for parents who are NOT teachers but are suddenly home schooling their kids for up to several weeks at a time (aaaarrrgh!)

It’s not an easy thing to do, but the good news is that you can 100% keep up to date with Kindergarten in less than an hour a day. (Personally I’m taking about ten minutes a day with my son.)

Another piece of good news is that your Kindy kid is likely to be thrilled to be learning, and all the more so to be learning with their parent/guardian one on one. Today I said TJ had to do 100 jumps on the trampoline before he was allowed to do schoolwork. Healthy bribery!

These are the three most important things kids learn in Kindy:

(a) How to be a school kid. How to sit quietly, how to play well with others, how to obey a teacher, etc. If you’re at home, that one is on hold for a while. That is what most of your kid’s day is ACTUALLY about when they’re at school. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about that right now! Yay!

(b) Maths. In Kindy, that mostly means the ability to count to a hundred (this video has exercises too, which we badly need to tire out our kids right now), to read numbers, and to do some addition. Practice those three skills, in that order, for a maximum ten minutes a day (or 1 minute five times a day) and if your kid has already got those three things sorted out, feel free to do some subtraction too, and you’ll be ahead of the class. (Number lines are your friend.) Or skip maths altogether. Seriously.

The Numberblocks are cool for a lot of very early maths concepts. Remember, repetition is good. Remember that especially if your kid falls into the vast whirlpool of educational YouTube videos (it’s a good thing right now, so let them do it). They’re truly excellent, but supervision is a good idea as YouTube does have its dark corners, and some are deliberately targeted at kids.

(c) MOST IMPORTANTLY, learning to read and write. Here’s what to teach, in order:

1. Books have words in them, and words make stories. Spend time reading to your kid every day if you possibly can (fiction and non-fiction). There are videos of people reading kids’ books online if you don’t have any at home. Playschool episodes always have a story and can be accessed via the ABC kids website. Yes, that’s right. Watching TV every day is educational.

2. Say/Sing the alphabet.

3. Have the kid practice writing and recognising the first letter of their name, and then recognising their whole name. If you like, label objects around the house and have the kid practice ‘reading’ the labels (really they’ll memorise them, and that’s fine—memorising words is not cheating, but a great start to reading). Fridge, table, door, etc.

3. Get to the point where the kid recognises every letter of the alphabet, and can say the most common sounds of the letters (a-a-apple, b-b-banana, c-c-cat, etc). Do a maximum of THREE letters a day, or up to 5 if your kid knows a lot already and it’s mostly repetition. ONE a day is absolutely plenty, remembering to go over what you’ve previously learned until you’re sure it’s “stuck” in the kid’s head (and then go over it again about once a week, but don’t do all your revision at once or the lesson will be too long). Flash cards are cool and you can get the kid to draw pictures to go with each letter, building them up 1-5 cards at a time.

4. Have the kid learn to write their whole first name. If it’s a mix of capitals and lower case, that’s fine. If they can already write their name confidently, it’s time to get them writing it a little better eg capital letter and then lowercase; forming letters in the correct sequence (eg b has a line then a curve; a is written with a circle then the line; the circle of o starts at the top… the way you do it as an adult is probably correct).

5. Start the whole alphabet again with Jolly Phonics (the key to education is repetition, and with Jolly Phonics it won’t feel too repetitive to the kid because they’re learning movements this time). It’s a great program that starts with the most useful letters. Again, do a maximum of three a day. I’m doing 1 a day with TJ. Each day we watch the song, do the action that goes with the letter, and then I write down a bunch of words with that letter in them (bonus points for any that aren’t at the beginning) and TJ underlines the letter in each word. Again, we go over previous letters every day until he seems to have them very well learned—and then we do them again once a week. Phase 1, Phase 2, etc.

6. If all that is going well, start practising how to write more letters, a few at a time—lower case first, then upper case (or both at once, which most people do instinctively). The Jolly Phonics order is great.

By the way, TJ did Jolly Phonics in pre-school (although he doesn’t remember the experience fully) and is doing it again from ‘scratch’ in Kindy. Repetition, repetition, repetition.

7. If THAT is going well, start forming words with letters from the beginning of the jolly phonics range. Eg. it, sit, sat, cat, rat, mat. See if the kid can recognise/sound out those words, and maybe try writing them if they want.

8. If THAT is going well, add some useful “sight words” like “The” and “That” so you can build simple sentences that your kid can actually read. Eg The cat sat. The rat sat. That cat sat on it.

If you get that far, congratulations. You’re way ahead of the average kid.

If you’re doing well, you can even start helping the kid read simple books (this would happen around May in schools, with custom-made books only). It’s a VERY slow process at first, so choose books that are short, with very few words on the page. If you don’t have kids’ books, just write sentences that are as simple as you can make them, with short words that use sounds in their most common form eg rap rather than wrap, at rather than eight (eight is a word whose spelling makes NO sense and is thus a “sight word”).

Obviously, if you get any material or advice from your child’s teacher, do that instead of (or in addition to) the above.

If you wish you had some science to teach, here’s a brilliant video site for science and all kinds of awesome stuff. And here’s one of MANY lists of science experiments you can do at home.

When your isolation period is over, remember how glad you are to not be a teacher, and never forget that teachers deserve at least twice as much pay as they’re getting.

Here’s a LOT more info and reassurance from a homeschooling Mum.

2 Comments

  1. The Virus Diaries: CoroNaNo? | crazy talk said,

    […] you have a Kindy kid staying home? I wrote a nice and easy home-schooling guide that takes as little as ten minutes a day, and is designed for non-teachers. I’ll probably do […]

  2. The Virus Diaries: Educational Obstacle Course | crazy talk said,

    […] lying; TJ will continue learning Jolly Phonics letters, because that’s what he wants to do.) Here‘s my guide to educating your Kindy kid at home for as little as ten minutes a day in case you […]

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