Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum: A Complete Guide for Choosing Curriculum
Looking for a homeschooling curriculum for kindergarten?
First, consider this: you may not need a formal curriculum for homeschooling kindergarten. Research continues to show your child’s learning at this age should be primarily play-based,1 and you can provide that in the context of what happens naturally in your home. Our article What curriculum should I use for my 4-year-old has lots of ideas that work just as well for 5- and 6-year-olds!
Using this approach will help your child begin learning how to learn in a way that is age appropriate and does not include pressure and perfection. We have more information for you about a playful path to learning—and a link to a free e-book that will help you embrace the value of play.
Homeschooling Kindergarten Curriculum Options
That said, we know you are excited to get started! And we know you are concerned that your child not miss anything important in the kindergarten year—using a homeschooling kindergarten curriculum can ease those concerns.
Plus, your child is smart and seems ready and willing for more structured learning.
Below we’ve listed some popular publishers who offer homeschooling curriculum for kindergarten, and we’ve linked to our descriptions and user reviews of each. This list doesn’t imply our endorsement of any specific curriculum but should give you a wide range to consider, and you can browse our reviews for additional publishers of kindergarten curriculum.
Keep in mind that some homeschooling curricula are designed with a religious point of view you may want or may not want as part of your homeschooling.
Free Kindergarten Curriculum
Yes! Some quality homeschool curricula are available online for free.
Nature-based Kindergarten Curriculum
These publishers emphasize children’s connection with the natural world. Great for outdoorsy families and kids who get bored or frustrated sitting at a desk doing worksheets.
Literature-based Kindergarten Curriculum
These curricula work well for homeschooling families who center their homeschooling around reading good books and enjoying related projects and activities. Many cover science and social studies topics through the literature, too! (Your child does not have to be an independent reader to use a literature-based curriculum).
Play-based Kindergarten Curriculum
Some curricula encourage families to prioritize the benefits of play while homeschooling.
Online Kindergarten Curriculum
Kindergarteners need hands-on activities and interaction with their grown-ups, but many parents also use an online curriculum to help cover the bases.
Traditional Kindergarten Curriculum
These publishers offer textbooks and workbooks to create a homeschooling experience that may look more like “regular” school, with an emphasis on “seat work” done at a desk or table.
Classical Education for Kindergarten
Classical homeschooling uses “living books” and involves teaching based on the three stages of learning noted in Antiquity: the Grammar stage, the Logic stage, and the Rhetoric stage—known as “the trivium.”
Homeschool parents may use separate reading curriculum to help their child begin learning to read in kindergarten or first grade.
Kindergarten Math Curriculum
Math curriculum is often offered independently from other subjects, even during the early years of homeschooling.
Publishers also offer handwriting curriculum separately, so you can add it to your mix of curriculum choices for other subjects.
FAQs about Homeschooling Kindergarten
What is the best kindergarten homeschool curriculum?
The best curriculum is the one that works well for you and your child. There is not one single best curriculum. Every child is different and every family is different—so there is a wide range of curriculum to choose from.
Children learn successfully from many different homeschool curricula! Even what your best friend thinks is best may not work as well for your kids and vice versa. Your search should be for a curriculum that fits your family well.
Also keep in mind, some people don’t use any formal kindergarten curriculum at all when they homeschool, and that is what works best for them. Others are attracted to a certain type of education, such as Waldorf or Montessori or Classical, so the best curriculum for them is one that reflects their favored approach to education.
How do I choose kindergarten homeschool curriculum?
Choose a curriculum that seems to fit your family—your child, your self, and your situation. You can tell a lot about curriculum through flip-throughs and reviews on social media and websites.
- Some curriculum companies sponsor Facebook groups and others have fan groups or social followings where you can join to read about people’s experiences or ask questions.
- Many publishers have free samples available at their websites, and you can even try out lessons with your child.
- Some homeschool groups have curriculum swaps, sales, and shares where you can peruse curriculum others have used.
- In some communities, there are homeschool book stores with experienced parents who can tell you pros and cons of various curricula for kindergarten.
Consider these questions as you look at various curricula you might choose for kindergarten:
- Will your child enjoy a curriculum that is more based on reading and writing or more based on projects, outdoor time, or hands-on activities?
- Will you mind gathering the materials for lots of crafts or doing deep reading to prepare for a lesson, or do you prefer a curriculum that is more “open and go,” with little prep on your part?
- Will your child be cared for part of the time by a partner, grandparent, or babysitter who will be helping with education, so you need lessons that are easily shared among adults?
- Where is your child in reading, writing, and arithmetic skills? Does the curriculum you are considering meet your child at or barely above their current skill level?
- Does the curriculum reflect the social, moral, or religious values you hope to impart?
- If it’s important to you, does the curriculum align with what public school students are learning at the same age? (This last one is tricky: you might also be one of many homeschooling parents who does not want what schools teach in public kindergarten, feeling many formerly first grade academic skills have been inappropriately pushed down to kindergarten).
Learn more about selecting the best homeschool curriculum for a child in any grade, including kindergarten, by reading our article How to Choose the Best Curriculum for Your Family’s Needs.
Does my kindergarten curriculum need to be accredited?
Homeschool curriculum, including kindergarten curriculum, does not need to be (and cannot be) accredited. That’s because accreditation is for schools, colleges, and institutions. Accreditation does not ever apply to any kind of curriculum by itself, and it’s not needed for homeschooling.
Some families do use accredited private, public and religious schools (online or in person) to meet compulsory attendance laws, but you can also meet compulsory attendance laws by homeschooling independently with any curriculum you choose. Accreditation is not a factor in whether your homeschooling is seen as legitimate.
Sometimes an online school or academy and the curriculum they use share the same name, which is confusing and may lead to the impression that the curriculum is accredited. Still, the curriculum is not accredited; remember, it can’t be! It’s not a school!
If your children are learning at home under a public charter school or with a curriculum provided by public school for free, your choice of curriculum may be limited because your child is enrolled in public education. You’ll have to follow their regulations and use only curriculum they accept.
If your child attends public school after homeschooling during kindergarten, grade placement will be up to the public school. Use of any certain program while homeschooling does not guarantee grade placement when a child enters school. In the early years, including kindergarten and first grade, schools often place students with their age-mates, but school officials are legally allowed to determine grade placement regardless of a child’s experience with home education.
How do I build/create/put together a kindergarten homeschool curriculum?
You can choose an “all-in-one” or “most-in-one” curriculum that covers all or most of the typical school subjects, and then you can make individual curriculum choices to add in specialized subjects such as math, reading, or handwriting.
Or, you can mix and match for every subject you want your child to learn this year. For example, with a child who loves being outdoors, you might choose a nature curriculum that helps children learn basic science. It may have a language arts component, but you may have to add math and how-to-read curricula to make it more complete.
Also recognize that many kindergarten skills can be learned without any curriculum at all. You may be able to help your child count, sort, add and subtract naturally, for example. You may be able to help your child learn to form letters correctly by creating your own “copywork” for your child to trace or copy. You can add in curriculum when you need resources in areas where you feel less comfortable helping your child learn in the context of your daily life.
How do I teach kindergarten with free curriculum?
There are free homeschooling curricula available online for kindergarten (examples included above), and you can view lessons on a tablet or download and print lessons. Free curricula often have recommended books that pair with lessons, which you can borrow from your local library.
There are also many free resources at independent websites that help children learn about specific subjects or topics. These include museum websites, historical site websites, and homeschool and other educational websites that offer free resources. Google is your friend!
Using free curricula may be less convenient because you have to do the legwork to find the appropriate books and supplementary materials, but many children learn successfully with free curriculum.
Tips for Homeschooling Kindergarten
Whether you homeschool with a kindergarten curriculum or not:
- Read aloud to your child every day, as much as you can, whether you also use a formal homeschooling kindergarten curriculum or not. Help them develop a relationship with books, with words on the page.
- Be a scribe for your child. You write down the stories they tell you, their recaps of a favorite TV show or movie, or the brief note they narrate to you when they want to send a card to Grandma. This is the beginning of writing composition skills!
- Be responsive. A child who is curious about how you are capturing their words on paper will be interested in those letters on the page. Respond naturally by showing them letters and words they can become familiar with or copy onto their drawings.
- Count and sort. Sort socks by color, ice cream by favorite flavors, leaves by their shapes, and vehicles by size or what they are used for. Add up the number of forks needed for dinner or the number of Lego bricks needed to even up the wall. This is an introduction to numeracy!
- Encourage questions. If you don’t know the answers, say so and demonstrate that you know how to look for more information in library books, on the internet, and by asking someone who knows more.
- Go places. Both “every-day” errands and planned field trips can be learning opportunities. Kids learn when they see money being exchanged, pick apples at a fruit farm, see historical re-enactments, or attend a music concert. When they reflect with you about what they learned or liked, they are practicing the earliest form of creating “reports”—an early composition skill.
- Take time to “deschool.” If you’re new to homeschooling, you may assume it’s a replication of school but implemented at home. Nope! There are many differences between homeschooling and school, and you’ll find the most advantages in homeschooling if you take time to question which school practices are necessary and sensible for learning at home. When parents engage in this constructive questioning process, it’s called parental deschooling.
- Gently mix in some more structured settings. Kids can learn the art of listening to an adult, taking turns, and raising their hands in just a few hours a month at library story time, tumbling, or at a craft day in the park. (Surprise! It turns out that research shows that kids do better by fourth grade if they have not had too much of this “adult-centered” formal instruction in their early years).
Insistence Doesn’t Fix Resistance
Be ready to be flexible. There is a wide range for learning kindergarten-level skills, and even smart kids sometimes start out strong in homeschooling kindergarten but may begin to resist. Insistence has never helped resistance! You are homeschooling and can be flexible by:
Always remember your goal is to create a love of learning—not to get through the curriculum. Curriculum is a tool meant to serve your family, and there are so many things homeschoolers don’t have to do like school.
Your child has many years to learn!
1 For more information about the importance of play in learning, see The Power of Play: A Research Summary on Play and Learning written by Dr. Rachel E. White for the Minnesota Children’s Museum.
Setting aside your legal obligation to refer students to Child Protective Services if you suspect abuse or neglect, there…