When should I start homeschooling my child?
Frequently, I encounter parents asking me, “When did you start homeschooling your child?” My children started homeschooling after they were already in the school system. My usual response to parents is to ask if the child knows some of their colours, numbers and letters yet. Can they identify animals, household objects and familymembers? I’ll then ask if the child understands words like “on, in, under, over, beside” and if they can identify any shapes yet. I will also ask if the child can use scissors, hold a pencil, toss a ball, balance on one foot and ride a tricycle. Then I’ll check if their child can retell an event or story that was read to them. I’ll also inquire if the child can put on their shoes, zip up a zipper, get dressed, use a toilet, feed themselves with a fork and spoon, wash their hands, and say please and thank you.
Amazingly, every parent has being able to say yes to at least one of those questions and usually yes to the majority of those questions. It’s at that point I smile at them and say congratulations, you are homeschooling your child.
Let’s read that again, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
You are homeschooling your child.
Let that sink in for a moment. Without even realizing it, you were teaching your child basic life skills, pre-math, science and a host of other skills every child needs to learn how to learn. Without realizing it, you are a homeschooling parent.
It’s when our children are sent off to a neighbourhood brick and mortar school that we in our minds eye can stop being our child’s main educator. But honestly, you will always be your child’s first and most important teacher in their life and it doesn’t matter if your child learns via homeschool or public school. You are the main adult who teaches them how to function in society, pay bills on time, control your road rage and model all those adult behaviours we admire in others and hope that our children will possess someday. You are the greatest teacher your child will ever have. And no one can love your child like you do, encourage them like you can and know when they aren’t giving their best effort in life, like you can simply because, you are the parent.
So, what equipment, curriculum, and resources do you need to homeschool?
Most everything you need is already in your home. Think about it. Do you have child friendly scissors? Crayons? A ball? Building blocks? The list can be endless!
I also suggest a library card to the local library; they have great programs for your child to access. My final suggestion is a good pair of running shoes, not for your child, but for you as the parent. Put those shoes on and take the kids to the park, go visit a zoo, art museum, heritage site. Take your child with you everywhere and plan on exploring things as you go.
Kindergarten is play based, we shouldn’t be forcing our children to sit for hours on end reading a book about making soup. Take your child into the kitchen pull up a chair to the counter and let them help you make soup!
In Ontario, if you register your child with a school board and then decide to homeschool you will need to send in a Letter of Intent every year after that. So, if you are thinking about homeschooling in JK/SK then just don’t register them with a school board. JK and SK are not required in Ontario.
Ok, but what do I do now?
When you have them practise printing the letters in their name, you are homeschooling your child. When you count with your child how many eggs are left in the carton, you are homeschooling your child. It really is that easy at this age level! Play blocks and talk about the colours, look for rectangles around the house (ex: doors, windows, books, a small rug on the floor) and talk about different shapes. Play at the park and talk about being on the slide, under the slide, beside the slide. Visit a zoo and see the animals, read a book and learn where they live, what they eat, etc. I tell parents that you don’t need a formal curriculum at this age level. Sometimes, we feel better if there is a checklist to follow so I’ll include one here. http://thecanadianhomeschooler.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Ontario-Kindergarten-Curriculum-Checklist.pdf
Go ahead, read through it, and print it out if you must, then feel free to let your child practice their scissor skills on those papers. 😉 Know that every child develops at the right speed for that child. So, present opportunities to learn and have fun and your child will accomplish both!
A few final thoughts.
Shut off the electronics. Use your TV as a very rare babysitter and don’t make your children wish they had your attention because you are staring at your phone, again. I know that sounds harsh get over it. Read at least one book everyday together. Give your child your complete attention and answer every single one of their questions, if you don’t know the answer go to the library and look the answer up! Yes, you could just google it, but learning how to use a library is a very important life skill. The time to google it will come later on. If there is a behaviour issue, know that sending them to school won’t fix it. You are the parent; it’s your job to fix it. If you need help, then ask. Ask a parent who has gone through it already to learn how they dealt with the issue. Talk with your doctor or clergy. Go to the library and take out a book and read it. Just don’t abdicate your role as parents and complain later on that the kids didn’t turn out like you would have liked them too.
Finally, enjoy this precious time. It may seem while you are in the busy-ness of time that the pre-school and kindergarten years will never end. But, honestly it feels like a blink and suddenly you have a 20 year old. If you have any other questions, please feel free to send them to us at WEhomeschool.firstname.lastname@example.org and we will endeavor to find an answer for you. It might take us a few hours to respond, we needed to get back from the library.