According to those seasoned in homeschooling, teaching kindergarten-aged kids can be one of the most challenging phases in what is ultimately a highly rewarding undertaking. In many cases this can be down to the newness of it all and a certain amount of anxiety about what needs to be covered and how to go about it.
If you have just embarked on this journey, or are toying with the idea, here is a (by no means definitive) list of what preschoolers should ideally have covered by the end of the kindergarten stage:
- Cutting along a line with scissors
- Establishing left or right-hand dominance
- Understanding time concepts like yesterday, today, and tomorrow
- Following directions
- Paying attention for 15 to 20 minutes
- Holding a crayon and pencil correctly
- Knowing the eight basic colors: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, black, white, and pink
- Recognising and writing the letters of the alphabet in upper and lowercase forms
- Knowing the relationship between letters and the sounds they make
- Recognising sight words such as the and read simple sentences
- Spelling their first and last name
- Writing consonant-vowel-consonant words such as bat and fan
- Retelling a story that has been read aloud
- Identifying numbers up to 20
- Knowing that addition is putting things together and that subtraction is taking away
- Counting in ones, fives, and tens to 100
- Knowing basic shapes such as a square, triangle, rectangle, and circle
- Knowing their address and phone number
- Understanding how people in communities work together.
- Using their five senses to make simple scientific observations.
Whilst the list looks quite long, and possibly a little daunting, many of the elements can be covered by learning through play. In fact, the Australian Early Years Framework now places a great deal of emphasis on children having access to creative activities as a learning pathway in institutional preschool environments. This is ironically, of course, at the heart of the reasons why many homeschoolers decide to teach their children at home in the first place.Learning through play and learning at the child’s pace are amongst the central tenets of homeschooling.
Whilst traditional activities such as painting, playing with sand and dressing up are fantastic at allowing children to develop their imagination and creativity as well as acquiring many of the key skills listed above, there are times when it is either not practical or possible to set these up. There are also times when home educators need to be able to pull out an activity which requires minimal – if any – adult supervision whilst they take a much-needed break or spend time with younger siblings.
Early in the development process, founder Simone Crighton identified its potential in helping children build finger strength and she consulted with occupational therapists to refine her design
Shapeeze is a fantastic educational resource. Developed in consultation with early learning educators, it helps children develop their recognition of basic colours, letters, numbers and shapes. The other key aspect of Shapeeze is its focus on building fine motor skills so essential in developing good pencil grip. Early in the development process, founder Simone Crighton identified its potential in helping children build finger strength and she consulted with occupational therapists to refine her design to include elements such as pushing out the pre-cut shapes, supplying glue to stick them in place (rather than use stickers), and including special triangular shaped pencils for tracing the letters and numbers and colouring in the patterns – all offering wonderful opportunities to increase fine motor skills.
Shapeeze also helps children extend their attention spans and problem solving skills by offering stimulating and absorbing activities which, importantly, they can complete by themselves without constant adult supervision. Homeschooling is a very time intensive occupation and Shapeeze offers home educators a great resource whilst delivering important hands-off time – you might even be able to have a quiet 15 minutes to drink some coffee!