Skip Junior Kindergarten?
I don’t normally do a Junior Kindergarten year, but for darling #5, her preschool year wasn’t enough to get her ready for my usual Kindergarten program. So this year, she will be doing a junior kindergarten year.
Junior kindergarten or K4 is meant for 4 year olds and very young 5 year olds. My 4 year old was born in April, so she is the perfect age for this level of work.
Like preschool, junior kindergarten’s main goal is reading readiness. The ability to read is the foundation for all other learning. So it’s vital that my children learn to read, and read well. We will be working on story structure and cementing the sounds. We’ll also be working on things like following directions, listening skills and comprehension.
For math skills, I want to focus on problem solving skills more. We’ll be doing patterning and recognizing differences. We’ll also explore geometry and spacial skills.
I’m introducing some content subjects to my kindergartner. We’re going to have fun with geography and art. Through these activities, my student will have plenty of opportunity to practice all her fine motor skills. We’ll use different mediums to write and draw. And we’ll have lots of cutting and pasting fun too.
I have several favorites that I love! It’s hard for me to stick to just one program though. I often pull pieces from one curriculum or another, and put it together in my own way. However, for those who don’t have that kind of time or energy, here are my favorite all-in-one JK curriculums.-Confessions of a Homeschooler’s K4/K5 curriculum: This gem is 850+ pages of Kindergarten-level activities. It covers everything from the basics of reading and math to the extras of music and movement. All you need to do is buy your supplies! It’s all laid out for you, with printables included. All this for under $20 — it’s a steal.
–God’s Little Explorers – It’s listed as a preschool curriculum, but the target age range is 3-4, and can easily be adapted for 5 year olds. It’s a thorough, fun look at all the basic skills. It also includes science-based activities, life skills and the opportunity to get involved as a family in volunteering. The cost is just $20, with proceeds going to support an orphanage in India.
–Raising Rock Stars: Kindergarten version: This amazing program is described as not a complete curriculum by the author. Frankly, though, as a mom who’s used it, it’s pretty complete to me! For $10 you can have all the printables for kindergarten activities. Explore the site too, as they have amazing themed packs, science and Bible story kits. Lots for the kindergartener to enjoy here!
Rod & Staff technically doesn’t have a kindergarten program. But they have two different “preschool” level programs. Their About 3 series is perfect for a preschooler, with simple activities and lovely black-and-white pictures. The ABC and DEF books are ideal for kindergarten. Paired with the secondary series (GHI and JKL), these books give you a complete kindergarten curriculum.Personally, I love the black-and-white simplicity of these books. That limits the distractions for my wiggly little ones. The variety of activities keeps them entertained. And they get to practice a wide range of skills and topics, all in the same book. If you did nothing else but these books, you’d have covered all the basics for kindergarten.
They are religious, and very traditional/conservative in focus. There are definite girl/boy roles in life, and the (few) images of people show them in Amish clothing. Plus, there are a few activities with pictures that may be unfamiliar to those of us in more modern settings — oil lamps, sewing machines, horse-drawn wagons, etc. But those are very few.
From The Relaxed Homeschool, this printable makes a great introduction to your school day. Each page in the 200+ page workbook covers phonics, math and handwriting. The pages repeat their style of activities, meaning that your kindergarten student can soon be independent! For less than $8, this workbook could be a perfect start for your JK-er.
Knowing the sounds and shapes of the letters is where I start with every one of my little ones. I use coloring pages, mazes, tracing pages, and dot-to-dots to play with the alphabet.
Along with knowing the sounds and shapes, I need my kindergarteners to be able to name and write the letters. I love Handwriting without Tears‘ Letters and Numbers for Me workbook. I use just the workbook, but you can get a great little kit to go with it. The kit contains chalk and chalkboard, a teacher’s manual with other activity ideas, and wooden pieces to make all the letters.
For math I use a few different things. We start with critical thinking skills, using Beginning Thinking Skills and Key Concepts from The Critical Thinking Co. I also like the I’m Learning Concepts series from CurrClick. I’m Learning about Shapes and I’m Learning about Colors make for fantastic extensions of the math skills we already covered in preschool.
While Rod & Staff’s GHI and JKL series of activity books cover a lot of science and social studies, I do like to be a little more deliberate. I add in our first lapbook, “All About Me” from CurrClick. And we cover the concepts of Families, Communities, and Community Helpers, using books I get from a local educational materials store.
How long do we school?
Kindergarten is where I start to get a little more structured about doing schoolwork. Preschool is all about a gentle introduction to bookwork, with lots of play and invitations. I get a little more insistent about kindergarten. Still, I’m not asking for a lot of sitting and writing though. But, I get firm about paying attention, following directions, and finishing the assignment. School work takes about 30-45 minutes to complete, assuming I don’t have to pause for attitude training.
It Starts in Kindergarten
I firmly believe that learning doesn’t stop just because the books are closed. We are all learning all the time. But we are not unschoolers, not that there’s anything wrong with that — that’s just not my style. We do workbooks, lapbooks, unit studies and lots of reading. It all starts in kindergarten. Now I start training my little ones in our school routines and my expectations of their work. I want to make sure they are ready to work and excel. Kindergarten is fun, but it’s our first year of “real school”.