A course of study. Subjects to cover. Things to teach.
Call it what you will, one of the things you want to figure out and make sure you have clear in your mind is what your child should be learning at what stage in their homeschool journey.
Now, this alone can feel intimidating. And daunting. And a whole bunch of other adjectives that can discourage you and make you want to throw up your hands and give up before you even begin…
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Let’s take a step back and break it down one step at a time. Remember, that’s the number one principle to creating your homeschooling plan: Give yourself time and take it one step at a time.
Knowing the Subjects to Cover
As you begin to put together your homeschool curriculum plan, one of the key questions you want to find the answer to is what to teach your child at which grade level.
No matter which approach to homeschooling curriculum you’ve chosen, knowing what general subjects your child should be learning at any given grade level will serve you well. You see, as you homeschool, you as the parent are responsible for guiding your child’s learning journey. And how can you guide them if you’re not clear on what they should be learning?
This big concept of what subjects you should be teaching your child apply to any approach to homeschooling. (If you’re not sure what the approaches to homeschooling curriculum are, check out this post.)
Today, our goal is not to dive into specific curriculum or give curriculum recommendations or reviews, but to give you a general idea of the subjects you should be covering during the preschool and kindergarten years as you homeschool your child.
Keep in mind that every child is different! Every child is at a different learning level and even learns different subjects at different speeds. So, remember that these are general subjects you should be teaching your children, not a written-in-stone law of what your homeschool must look like. Your homeschooling journey is unique to you and your family, so don’t be afraid to tailor this to your child’s learning journey.
Creating the Lists
Over the years, I’ve looked at LOTS of subject lists for each grade and what you see below are the subject lists I’ve compiled from comparing lots of information.
Now, as you look at these lists, you’ll find a lot of repetition. For example, math shows up as a subject at every grade level. That’s to be expected! You don’t just learn math in Kindergarten and then never take another math class. You start learning math by recognizing numbers, learning to write your numbers, then moving on to simple addition. Each year, you build on the math concepts you have learned as you continue to add to and expand your knowledge of math. So the similarities are to be expected in these subject lists as each year takes your child deeper in their study of a particular subject.
Preschool is a time of learning through play. While you might start some subjects in a more “formal” sense (worksheets or working through lessons geared toward preschoolers), the main vehicle for learning in preschool is play and reading books together.
Now, if your preschooler has older siblings, don’t be surprised if they pick up a lot just by hanging out in the same room while you’re doing lessons with your older children. In fact, I would encourage you to keep your little ones in the same room while you’re doing school lessons with your older children – letting the little ones color or do puzzles or play quietly with their toys, of course. This begins to show your little ones what school looks like and it makes your life easier because you have your little ones in your line of sight!
Here are the subject to cover in preschool:
One of the foundational rocks of every home is faith. So, teach your children what you believe. Keep it simple, but read the Bible together and work on memorizing simple verses.
This subject of letters, phonics, and reading encompasses the majority of what you’ll be doing with your preschooler. Start to work on letter recognition, both on paper (through worksheets) and through games. But don’t simply teach them the name of the letter, teach your child the sound the letter makes. This sets the stage for phonics and teaching them to read.
Now, some children will want to start reading on their own at this age, and if they’re ready, start teaching them how! But remember not to force them. Keep the lessons short, positive, and don’t forget to cheer on their efforts!
The most important part of this subject is to read out loud to your child. Spend lots of time reading! Read books about every subject – books you remember and love from your childhood, new favorites you’ve discovered with your children, and books about topics they enjoy.
Just as reading starts out with learning to recognize the letters of the alphabet and the sounds the letters represent, learning math starts out with learning to recognize numbers and the amount they represent.
Count out loud with your child, count things around the house, work on worksheets together, play games, and work on recognizing numbers (especially 0-9) and the amount they represent.
As you work on letters and numbers with your child, give them the opportunity to write them! Tracing letters and numbers on worksheets is a fun and enjoyable way to reinforce what you’ve been learning with letters and numbers.
As you move into kindergarten with your child, you will start to work through more “formal” lessons. These lessons will encompass less games and take more of a ‘sit down and listen’ approach.
However, keep in mind that these lessons should be short! Your child is still growing and changing very quickly at this age and it’s almost impossible for a 5 or 6 year old to sit still for very long. In fact, their bodies are growing and developing so quickly that it can be physically painful for them to remain still for too long!
Use the more formal lesson approach, but don’t forget to add in lots of movement, games, and activities to help your child learn – and keep their attention – as they continue to learn by exploring the world around them.
As your child continues to learn, continue to teach them the Bible. This doesn’t have to be a formal lesson with a workbook, but continue laying the foundation for faith. Also, continue to work on memorizing verses.
Just as in preschool, you want to continue teaching your children the letters of the alphabet and the sounds the letters make. In the kindergarten years, many children will want to learn how to read, so begin teaching them. Remember, short consistent lessons are extremely effective when you’re teaching a child to read! Keep these lessons short, simple, and fun!
The most important part of this subject in kindergarten is to continue to read to your children. So grab a stack of books about all kinds of subjects and read together!
Continue to build a foundation for learning math. Now, some children will know their numbers and the amounts they represent by this point. If they do and they can write their numbers, there’s nothing wrong with starting a more formal math curriculum at this stage.
But there’s no rush in starting a formal curriculum either! The most important thing is to make sure they’ve mastered the early concepts before moving on to the next step.
Simple worksheets with letters, number, and even words will help your child develop their fine motor skills and set the stage as they learn to write more and more on their own.
Encourage your child’s curiosity and explore the world around you with science. Now, this might sound intimidating for a kindergartener, but when you look at it as simply exploring the world and discovering new things, it doesn’t sound as hard, does it?
This might take the form of lessons through a science curriculum (particularly if you have older children) or it could be as simple as exploring your backyard or local park and learning about the things you find with the help of books from your local library.
Let’s be real, geography feels like a heavy subject for a kindergartener, right? And expecting your child to be able to recreate a map of your state and label all the major cities would be expecting far too much!
But what if you started giving your child an idea of the world around them? This is the approach to geography in kindergarten. To give your child an appreciation of the world around them by introducing them to big concepts about our world (oceans, continents, etc.) and about where you live (your city and state).
Again, if you have older children, working geography lessons in with your kindergartener will be much easier, but you can still explore the world around you with your children no matter their age.
As you understand the subjects you should cover in preschool and kindergarten and work to set your curriculum for these years, be sure to remember something very important:
These early school years are very formative.
Now, that’s a fancy way of saying that these early years set the stage. If you make these early years all about sitting at a table and doing worksheets and having no fun at all, your child will associate those memories with school as they continue through elementary, middle, and high school.
However, if you make these years fun, interactive, and encouraging all while learning at the same time, you set the stage for a positive learning journey. Oh, don’t get me wrong, every day will not be all sunshine and roses! But when you start out with a positive foundation, it’s much easier to continue to build on that positive foundation as your child continues to grow.
Let’s be real: Children keep growing! Just when you figure out this Kindergarten thing, your child moves into First Grade and beyond. So what subjects do you need to cover in elementary school? Check out this post all about the subjects you should cover in first, second, and third grade.
- How To Get Started Choosing Your Homeschool Curriculum
- 3 Paralyzing Myths and How to Overcome Them
- Why Is Reading with Your Kids So Important?
- How To Begin Homeschooling Your Little Ones
- Subjects to Teach Your Child in First, Second, and Third Grade
- Subjects to Teach Your Child in Fourth and Fifth Grade
- Subjects to Teach Your Child in Middle School
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.