When Is The Best Time To Start Homeschooling?
Is Kindergarten necessary to a child's educational development? If you are considering homeschooling your child, should you begin with Kindergarten curriculum or start in First Grade? What age is the best for starting homeschooling? As I researched this for my own family, I read many opinions from home-educators that said, “don’t start formally teaching your child so early. Don’t force structured learning at the age of five.”
Pre-K classes are increasing across the nation, with 28 percent of our children attending. Many states have specific guidelines. Charlotte Mason, a British educator from the late 1800s, says that children shouldn’t start formal learning too early. The exploration from play, nature, and natural surroundings is essential to the formation of a child’s brain.
A study done on Australian children shows that the entry age for starting in a traditional school does make a difference. The study indicates that boys tend to do better with a later entry age, as compared to girls who start, in general, with stronger verbal skills. The entry age also seemed to affected cognitive skills more than social-emotional skills.
With this said, should you hold off on doing kindergarten material until a child is older, for example age six? Should you skip this grade altogether? Why homeschool Kindergarten?
Starting Early: Pros
While these opinions are valid, in a traditional school setting, Kindergarteners are learning basic skills. They are learning sight words, phonics, and counting, upper case and lowercase letters,and simple math and money skills. They also are given an introduction to science through learning about animals, seasons, and the five senses, among other things. For social studies, or history, Kindergarteners are taught about mapping skills, cultural awareness, and information about the community. World Book puts out a typical course of study for each grade level. They highlight 67 things Kindergarteners could learn by the end of the year.
If your child was to skip Kindergarten and just begin with First Grade material, some of these skills would be missed, possibly creating more work to backtrack once you've begun. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can create a schedule that is as light or as heavy as you'd like it to be for your Kindergartener. By beginning with Kindergarten material you are staying in pace with traditional schools. While this may not be important to every family, if it is important to you, this would also be a good reason to start at this grade level.
If you begin homeschooling in Kindergarten you are also laying a foundation for future years, in regards to structure. For example, even if you do an hour of work a day, you are starting to show your child that there will be a time set aside each day for education.
Are there any cons to starting homeschooling in Kindergarten? Like the studies show, often boys, in particular, may benefit from a later starting age for formal schooling. However, this doesn't necessarily mean to skip Kindergarten, just possibly push it back a year.
Another drawback to starting schooling in Kindergarten is that certain skills may be mastered quicker at a later age. According to some feedback from an article written for the school systems in Europe, where a later starting age of six can be found, students who begin younger seem don't seem to reap much benefit from the early start. The BBC article, "Review Backs Later Formal Lessons," is an interesting read, and shows that the readiness for certain skills like reading and writing begins at age six.
Decide What’s Right for Your Family
If you are only homeschooling for Kindergarten and intend to put your child into a traditional school for First Grade than you may want your child to have all the skills needed to enter successfully by following a formal curriculum. If your goal is to homeschool for a long period of time, than you have the freedom to let your child learn at his/her own pace more naturally. Whatever path you choose for your young learner, it’s important to remember that you only cross this way once. Putting time, effort, and prayer into your decision will help you reach your best answer.
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