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What K-2nd Really Need to Know

To all my sweet, new homeschooling parents of K-2nd graders. I know you are a little freaked out right now, so I am going to give you everything you need to homeschool your young child. Got a pen? Here we go!

1. Read good books. Read books that engage their imagination and are beyond their reading level. While a young child's brain cannot process the act of reading at a high level, they can think at a high level. They have the ability to reason and think and question. Read books that make them ask questions or want to go on wild adventures! When you read to your child, not only are you expanding their world, but you are creating good writers! Good books will expand their vocabulary, help them recognize proper grammar, help them recognize good sentence structure and help them fall in love with good storytelling. All of these are components of a good writer. At this age, they can't read or write at that level, but they can think at this higher level. Help them develop these skills now and when it is time to start formal composition around 4th grade, they won't blink. They will automatically recognize good (and bad) grammar when they hear it and you will be amazed at the storytelling that flows from them! Encourage them to "write a story" by telling you the story and letting you write or type it out as they dicate. The story is there, they just aren't developmentally ready to put it on paper! There is a site called www.SimplyCharlottemason.com that has a great list of narration ideas. Do some of those! For the record, what I am suggesting should have taken 15-20 minutes of your day. You have already accomplished vocabulary, grammar, and composition. And all you had to do was snuggle up on the couch and enjoy spending some time together with a good book!

2. Don't freak out about math Count things as you go. When they have that down, start introducing simple concepts. If I have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and I cut it into 4 pieces and I give you one piece, how many pieces do I have left? AND now we have lunch and giggle about math. If you don't start a formal curriculum until 2nd or 3rd grade, you will be OK. Make math fun! This should only take a few minutes at a time.

3. Spend time exploring God's amazing world! Take a sketch book to the park and draw a tree that you see. Ask them what they see. They will probably ask you a question like "Why is the bark bumpy?" When you get home, look it up and explore more! Don't turn this into a research project, just find the answer to any questions they have. When they are done asking questions, be done! Now, you have accomplished science, critical thinking and learned how to do research. It only took a few minutes and some time together outside!

4. CREATE! Let them make a mess. Now, I know this will be harder for some of you then others, so you might want to do this early in the day before it gets too hot. Take the easel OUTSIDE! Play with playdough on the patio and it won't be in the carpet. Don't limit them to the things you want to clean up. Let them fingerpaint and make lovely things. Believe it or not, this is not only developing the part of the brain that is used for creative thought, but you are teaching them to approach problems with their whole brain! And don't forget...God created the world (that's pretty creative!) and God created us in His image, therefore, using our critical thinking skills, we are all creative in some way and we have a need to express that. Now, some are creative in traditionally creative areas like art or music, but some are creative in organizing or cooking. The important thing here is to expose your kids to lots of different things so they can find their own creative outlet!

5. Don't forget to play! Play is a young child's work. It is how they process the world around them. Play with them! Build a fort, pretend the floor is lava, or even act out the story you just read! Don't force them to do a lot of handwriting until they are ready. Often, the muscles in their hands are not ready until they are as old as 9 or 10. It is actually painful to hold a pencil! If they are ready, go for it! Schedule your day in blocks, like what I have shown you here. don't try to stick to a precise schedule. You are not working homeschooling into your life, you are homeschooling while you do life! Kindergarten should never take more than a couple of hours and most of that time should be active. As they get a little older, they can do more sit down work, but remember, our goal here is to help our children fall in love with learning, not just doing busy work. What do you need to do to create an atmosphere that does that? If they fall in love with learning all you have to do is give them some tools as they get older and they will be ready for life!

And most importantly, you will not ruin your kid in one year. Give yourself lots of grace as you also learn a new skill in teaching your kiddo! Even if your kid is older, you are not going to ruin their life in one year! Take a breath and go have some fun! You got this!

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