How to Unschool Kindergarten

Leaving all politics and social shift controversies aside, let’s just say that homeschooling is “trending” more than ever before. Whether you’re on the fence about homeschooling using the unschooling method or have made up your mind to do so, let’s dive into how to unschool kindergarten!

Unschooling Kindergarteners

When you first start homeschooling, you want to be organized, have a plan and setup some goals for your child. After all, the measure of success in the school system is whether or not the children reach goals that have been set for them. But unschooling throws all of that out of the window! That’s why we like it. Unschooling works exactly how it sounds. We take the typical school system parameters out of education and all the expectations and limitations that go with it.

That being said, you do not want to plan a curriculum. If you do, you’re going to be disappointed with the results. You’ll see.

The #1 Mistake to Avoid When Unschooling

I now have a first grader and kindergartener and I learned in that first year of unschooling my son (the now first grader) that even though I kept feeling the need to focus on the alphabet or writing or math concepts, he wasn’t going to learn at my pace. He learned at his own pace, in his own time and getting ahead of him only made him resistant to me. What’s worse, whilst trying to adhere to traditional school values, I was falling behind him – in the areas he wanted to know more about.

You see, unschooling is about skill building through interest-inspired exploration. Kids are curious sure, but once they get a peek at something they find interesting, they are driven to explore it. And in that exploration, they will naturally be introduced to the skills of life – those that we all need in order to survive and be successful (reading, writing, problem solving, etc).

unschooling kindergarten

Once you understand that, you can then mold a lifestyle that nurtures exploration. If this sounds like a fairytale education, you’re not wrong! I seriously was beside myself when I saw a bud of curiosity turn into a passion for math in my son. Without any pressure from me. Here’s what happened…

My son, Jacob, was around 5 at the time. I had already attempted to provide some structured learning materials and had the alphabet on the walls and new crayons and pencils ready. He broke all the crayons in half and when I say he never colors, he NEVER colored pictures. But, at that age he would copy numbers 1-10 happily. And then, through play, I realized he was quick to understand verbal math – addition. And he found it fun to be quizzed verbally. So I got a white board and markers and we playfully explored math equations. Had that not worked, I would have discarded and tried more thins…But it did! He was 5 and I was amazed! Not only did he understand addition, he loved it! He’d bring me the white board and say, “Let’s do math equations Mom”. He’d sit on the counter as I cooked a meal and write out math equations that we’d solve together. He couldn’t tell you what the letter ‘g’ sounds like, but he could solve 4+4=.

And then one day, as if the information had always been inside his brain, but not ready to come out, he knew the sounds of the letters in the alphabet and could recognize them too. Without any pressure from me.

That’s not to say I didn’t encourage learning the alphabet. I simply didn’t have a set time of the day where he had to do it my way. I figured out what worked for him. My rule of thumb was this:

Whatever kept him in a good mood, while learning the alphabet, that’s what we did.

For him, it was a simple matching game. I printed and laminated the ABCs in uppercase and lower case and we played the matching game with those cards for months. Each time he became better and better at letter recognition. And when we were out and about, I’d point to a letter and say, “Bet you can’t guess that letter!” I would look for any little way that I could incorporate letter recognition into our day, without a lesson plan.

My daughter, Jolene, who is now finishing up kindergarten, was the same way with the alphabet. At 4 she would debate me about letters, telling me an “o” was “a” and that I was wrong. At the start of kindergarten she had zero interest in the alphabet or math. All she wanted to do was color. So she had pretty pens and crayons and did art every chance she got. Again, I did my best to incorporate those essential, foundational skills a kindergartener should know.

And just when I wondered if Jolene would ever get it, she woke up one day and decided to let it all sink in. We played the good ol matching game a few times, along with other games, and now she’s got it! Without any pressure from me.

So, if you’re just getting started with unschoooling and don’t want to mess it up, heed this warning! Do Not Pressure Your Child to Learn. Let them learn when they are ready. That is interest-led unschooling.

unschooling activities

Unschooling Activities for Kindergarten

At this age, games and activities do a lot more as far as education than paperwork and such. And if you play the games kids love, they’ll get much more out of it. Here are a few unschooling style games and activities that our two kids have enjoyed.

  • Matching games with letters, numbers, shapes
  • Uno with any characters and numbers
  • Painting and coloring by number
  • Hopscotch with letters and numbers
  • Board games with dice
  • Candy land
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Shaving cream – drawing letters, numbers
  • Go Fish card game

Jolene says almost every day, “I want to make something”. She loves measuring flour and water and mixing these. That’s one way to teach measurements.

Jake Jr loves helping around the house and we’ve taught him simple measurements with his own tape measurer tool.

Kindergarten-age appropriate subscriptions are also fun. We have been purchasing creates from Kiwi.com for 3 years now and we love the kits we get. The kids are able to learn about geography, human anatomy, and science and engineering from Kiwi crates. Other subscriptions are highly recommended as well!

Other Ways to Unschool Elementary Students

In addition to games and hands-on activities mentioned above, it’s also important to be on the lookout for chances to teach your kids about whatever fact of life presents itself. For example, driving down the road, my kids will ask questions that spark conversations about culture, social etiquette, government and political topics, biology and more! Those innocent questions are doors opening for learning. With no pressure behind it.

If your young children don’t seem to be asking many questions at this age, try this:

Wait for the right opportunity to ask ice-breaker style questions to get your kids thinking and open the door for some discussion. Examples would be

  • Why did your friend, Tim, seem upset today?
  • What was your favorite part of the day?
  • Did you notice anything interesting about what we did today?
  • How did it make you feel when ….
  • What do you think you’d like to do when Fall/Summer/Winter comes around?

These types of questions and conversations will stick with your kids! They will get more comfortable asking you questions too. You may not realize it, but answering questions like this is education. They are learning the facts of life that will help them grow into critical thinking adults who understand how the world works.

More Ideas Are Out There!

If you’re like me, you get your information and ideas from reading! Here are several books and activity kits that I have found helpful with unschooling my kindergarteners.

Books

Activity Kits

Find Your Inspiration for Homeschooling

Of all the advice I could give for homeschooling and unschooling, my #1 tip is to find someone who has a plan that works! I don’t write about unschooling very often and its not my place of expertise. What I’ve shared here about unschooling kindergarten is limited, but hopefully you found it helpful!

What helped me learn the style of homeschooling that would work for my family was discovering a mom of 6 who has been homeschooling for many years. She’s a wonderful person inside and out and her children are all thriving in life – the result of what I believe is the best method of homeschooling there is. Unschooling, of course! Her name is Karla, and I highly recommend you check her out on YouTube and see for yourself! She’s a very inspiring mama!

Summary

In the end, you will design an unschooling environment that works for you family – more correctly, your child. The key takeaways are: go at their pace, avoid pressuring them to “do school work”, look for opportunities to teach the facts of life, ask questions!

If this helped you begin unschooling, please let me know! Comment or follow us on social media. @allthingsfamilyandbaby

Next Read —-> The Best Solution For Hot Slides & Swings

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