Transitioning from Home Preschool to Home Kindergarten
It’s official. Time flies. Before you realize what’s happened, your preschooler knows letters, numbers, and how to make a turkey and cheese sandwich so quietly no one in the house knows they are awake. So maybe the last one is just at our house, but still, you get the idea. This big huge thunderclap all of a sudden rings in your ears, “It’s time for Kindergarten“.
How do you make the transition to a little more structured? How much sit down work do you do? How do I keep all the legal i’s dotted and t’s crossed? What curriculum is the best for my active/visual/kinesthetic/special needs student?
Homeschool Transitions: Preschool to Elementary
Learn Your State Homeschool Laws
First, go to HSLDA.org and look up the laws in your state. Several states do not require a Declaration of Intent to homeschool until your child is 6. HSLDA will give you a comprehensive list of all the things required by your state to homeschool. They also have a page where you can find homeschool support groups in your area if you don’t already have one. Win-win! Once you know your state’s requirements, then you can move on to the fun stuff.
How to transition to more structured learning
Kindergarten and early elementary learning is just a bit more structured that preschool. Begin by picking a general “start” time each day. Have short lessons broken into 5-15 minute sessions with breaks between. As you progress through the year, lengthen the lessons and shorten the breaks as your needs evolve. Our total structured “school time” is really only 1 and a half to 2 hours a day. Once hands-on projects, read aloud time, and practical life activities are added in, it’s plenty for a kindergarten student.
Even if your student is transitioning from private/public preschool to home elementary school, allow time for de-schooling so that there is a gradual and smooth transition for you both into the freedoms and personalization of homeschooling. The first few months need a lot of flexibility. You are in charge so it’s OK to move slowly!
How to Find a Curriculum for Your Student
First, there are a lot of different curriculum. Try not to get too overwhelmed. Begin by remembering what style of learning best suits your student, then think about what style of homeschool you have. Does your student do well with facts and figures or do they learn more from literature based sources? Whether you end up following a Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Classical, or other method (or methods because it’s perfectly OK to mix them all up and be eclectic), there are plenty of curriculum choices for each.
Ask your homeschool mom friends who have similar styles to you. You will find hidden gems this way. Books and curriculum, field trip locations, blogs, and new homeschooling friends are all fantastic benefits to having a support group of other homeschool families. If you just can’t decide on Saxon or Shiller, ask around.
Decide if you think boxed curriculum, where everything you need comes from one company in one box, is the way you want to go, or if you’d rather piece it together yourself. There are so many great online resources, too, and many of them are extremely low-cost or even free, that you can even forgo a “formal” curriculum. For the ultimate curriculum experience, go to a homeschool convention and see, touch, examine, and get questions answered by the curriculum creators.
If your child has special needs, homeschool conventions are also very helpful in finding curriculum geared for children with all different learning challenges. Facebook groups for homeschoolers with special needs are filled with parents who are more than willing to share and help you find something that will work for your child. They are also wonderful for encouragement on the special needs homeschooling journey.
Once you have decided upon and ordered your curriculum, step away from the catalogs. With all the great options, it is easy to begin second guessing yourself. Begin with what you have chosen, and if a need arises to reevaluate and change curriculum later during the year, examine other options then.
The beauty of homeschooling is that it allows us to present ideas and information in ways that speak to our children, and stick with them. It also gives us the freedom to try different teaching methods, to set a schedule that works best for our family, and to enjoy learning alongside each other on this journey of learning.
I’m Lara, a sinner saved by grace, wife and help-meet to my best friend, John, and homeschooling mama to two bouncing (literally) boys, Teddy and Frederick. Hot tea, good conversations and dark chocolate are some of my favorite things. Grab your favorite mug and join us on our adventures at Lara’s Place and a Cup of Grace where we discuss homeschool, family, faith, and Apraxia of Speech. You can also tag along on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.