How to Start Homeschooling a 5-year-old

how to start homeschooling 5 year old

Homeschooling is a daunting task no matter what age you start your child. But how to do it with a young 5-year-old? It’s like embarking on a new journey, right?

The way to homeschool a 5-year-old is to first get them used to learn at home. Next prepare the space and supplies for teaching. And then create a schedule to follow and log the progress. You can find a curriculum as you go but make it fun! At this age, you want to instill a love of learning.

It all sounds so simple, and trust me, it is easy! You are going to create an environment to provide education for your child. As a parent you are probably already “homeschooling” and you didn’t even know it.

Start Teaching Something Simple

teach something simple
Teach Reading

Starting is the most difficult part no matter what you are doing, and homeschooling a toddler is no different. Trust me and start with a simple game or activity. You can try Slow and Steady Get them Ready. This useful guide has 260 activities or 1 for every week from birth! These activities are things your kid can try and will help get them ready for kindergarten. You can check through it and see if there are some things your child already knows. If so, then you can skip it. But there were some fun things we found that our son still wasn’t as proficient in. They have activities that teach step by step how to jump rope and lace a shoe. 

Preschoolers Enjoy Learning

preschoolers enjoy learning
Learning About Bones is Fun!

Toddlers love learning by nature so you are at an advantage if you are starting before they even went to a traditional school or preschool. But if you are like us, maybe your kid is already in a kindergarten or Preschool and that is just fine. I think it may have been a blessing that we sent our son to childcare and preschool. We are living abroad in Taiwan, and the preschools here are amazing and follow a Montessori approach. It made it fun for our son. Learning in this way made our son independent and able to do many things on his own, all while having fun. 

Nobody likes to feel controlled. Sometimes children are unmotivated because they feel they’re being forced to do something.

Teach Your Child to Love Learning: Keys to Kids’ Motivation

The best part is that it was so organized and they provided us with lists and outlines of curriculums they were learning. This gave us a good understanding of what we could also practice with our son. This is helpful to parents getting started because it provides the organization we didn’t have. But once we saw what was being done it gave us opportunities to review and practice with our son. This might be something you are already doing as well, and this is the thing we mentioned earlier. You are already being a good parent and “homeschooling” your student!   

Select a Space for Your Homeschool

select space for homeschool
Homeschool Space

The next thing you should do is select the space for your homeschool. If you have a spare room somewhere that may be ideal. Some parents prefer a place with no windows that could cause distractions but it is up to you. We chose a wall of the living room where we had an open space. It was where our son usually sat for dinner when he had friends over. A small kids table and 2 chairs. This location we found to be perfect because it is not at the dinner table. It is near the kitchen. 

We can prepare dinner or meals and he could be sitting there doing his work. And if he needs any assistance he can pop in and ask us. We can also peek around the corner and make sure he is on task. You need to select a place where you think is quiet, with no distractions, and convenient to supervise and teach when needed. Teaching a distracted child is possible and we wrote a helpful article here about the secrets, check it out. But it’s best to choose a place where you can separate the living, playing, and sleeping. Our son chose it because he likes to keep his room for sleeping and playing, not learning. 

Plan Your Homeschool Room or Space

plan homeschool room or space
Plan it Out

If you can plan your space together this is a bonus for your child. Taking part in planning is a great way to get buy-in as well. If they get a say in how the room or space looks then they are also more likely to appreciate it. It’s the place where they can build a path to a love for learning. We started with getting the table and chairs right for the correct height and lighting. You have to have good lighting to reduce the chance of fatigue. We also asked our son how he would like to arrange the shelves and which ones we would like to move from his room. He also got a chance to arrange supplies in one area and books in another.

Students got higher grades in the class in which they reported having a better sense of belonging, better motivation, better self-regulation, better participation, in which they were more likely to delay gratification, more likely to use learning strategies, and/or are less inclined to avoid performance.

Environments Matter

How a classroom is set up matters. And my son also likes to plan and build things so it’s a good match. He also likes to draw a mockup of his new space. This is something we were surprised with. He thinks he is a little builder. So we let him decide how it will look. Of course, it cannot look exactly as he drew it but he had fun discussing it and drawing it out. We also took an older stand I built and repurposed it as a bookshelf. He likes that since he used it for so many years and didn’t want to throw it out.

Buy the Supplies Together With Your Homeschooler

buy school supplies together
Buying Supplies

The next step will be to prepare the school supplies you need. We got a list together with our son Aaron and he is very keen on the supplies he needs. You can use this exercise as also a form of experience and learning to get them used to be organized. Make a list of the stuff you need together. Depending on the subject you plan to teach will also dictate the supplies you buy, but the basics are simple. You will need pencils, pens, crayons, and erasers as the basic writing utensils. 

We also have crayons, markers(water or alcohol-based), and ruled paper for tracing letters and writing practice. Some small child-safe scissors, a hole puncher, white glue, or stick glue is fine. Kids love cutting and pasting. Then you will need some file folders, drawing paper, construction paper, and a small ruler. These basics should be fine until you figure out and build your curriculum.  

Build Your Homeschool Room

build your homeschool room
Building Your Room

Once you get all of your supplies and furniture worked out and bought you can begin. Build your homeschool room with your child and they will have fun. Take some photos and keep a record. Maybe even a video for having fun later. We also let our son take some jars we had planned to recycle and repurpose them as his pencil, crayon, and pen holders. He also likes to collect small boxes and tins to collect the other supplies and arrange them neatly in his cabinets. We like the kind of shelves that have doors on them to keep the dust out.  

Once the area is set up and all in order, you can have your child take mental notes of where everything is. Is it reachable and conveniently placed? Are all the most frequently used supplies within reaching distance? Most likely not! You are just starting, but don’t worry, as you get more experience you will have a chance to move things around. But also take this chance to photograph where everything is and make sure they understand that when they are done learning, they should put everything back to its proper place. They should get in a habit early to put things back in an organized way. It saves time and makes learning feel more organized and neat.

Create the Homeschool Calendar Together

create the homeschool calendar
Make a Calendar

Now it may seem this is a detailed process but rest assured that if you go through this process you will be able to homeschool your 5-year-old with ease. Create your homeschool calendar with your student so they can see the subjects, days of the week you will be learning, and the time. We started slowly, and luckily we had the luxury to not do it in a rushed manner. We started doing our homeschooling in the evenings. We started with 3 main subjects, math, reading, and writing. You can start with 10 minutes of each subject at first since they will need to get used to the whole process and you as the teacher. 

But as you start you can find what schedule works best for you. We recommend starting slowly and gradually build up the time and the subjects. Don’t rush it because they will be overwhelmed. You might also get frustrated too since it’s most likely the first experience you have made a schedule for your homeschool. But work out the time with your family and especially your child. We discussed with our son that we would start with his homework as we got back from his traditional daycare. As we prepared dinner he would do some math or writing. 

After dinner, we would work on another subject, and then once he finished we would treat him with either going out to play soccer, ride a bike or have some dessert. We expect him to finish his “learning” as we call it first. Then he can do the other fun things he likes. So as we use the schedule he becomes very aware of time and how much time he has left before he has to get ready for bed and begin to take his shower. We always aim for 8:30 pm! Sometimes we miss the mark and he also sometimes fails and throws an occasional tantrum, but we usually get it done. 

It becomes a habit and everyone knows what to expect. It isn’t a surprise that we have to do our learning before going out or having dessert! These schedules we make together aid us in getting our son to follow a ritual and get used to learning every day. Gradually we will do more subjects and eventually do all of our schoolings at home. This is how we manage to introduce him to homeschool in an easy way. The homeschool calendar is a great way to picture the school week and make sure everyone knows what needs to get done. It also helps teach days of the week, month, and time. In homeschool, every moment is a potential teaching moment.

Select the Subjects to Teach

select the subjects to teach

As we chose to start when our son was about 5 and ½ years old, we chose the 3 basics: Math, Reading, and Writing. We also introduced phonics and Bob Books Our son picked up on reading fairly quickly. This will be an essential part of your homeschooling in the early years. Teaching them how to read. Reading is the basis for all other subjects. So the earlier they can read, the easier it will be for them to do the lessons and understand what they need to do. 

Depending on which state you live in, you will also need to be aware of what the regulations are for homeschooling your child. Each state may have a slightly different procedure for kindergarten. For example, which age do they need to legally be to start and how do you inform the school board that you will be homeschooling? In the U.S. it’s legal in all 50 states to homeschool, so do a simple check of your local regulations.

In these early years, you will find most things kids want to learn about will be themselves, their body, their surroundings, animals, the earth. And this is the type of subjects you will find in most kindergartens. At the age of 5 to 6, these are the types of things you can be teaching. By nature, children love asking all kinds of questions about everything they see. And it will be your pleasure we hope to teach them! You will also find other useful topics to teach and this depends on the particular curriculum you choose. 

Pick Your Curriculum and Go

pick a curriculum

You can see that we chose to talk about the curriculum very far into the process, right? That’s because in the beginning, this was the only thing I was concerned about! Which one to choose, what’s the right path? Are we going to find a secular or nonsecular curriculum? How will we know if it’s the right subject for my child? After we were overwhelmed with the process we picked a few subjects and began to go with the flow. We chose a math book and did a few lessons per week.

Most lessons are set up to follow the usual traditional school year of 180 days or 36 weeks. This is just a general rule of thumb you can remember and adjust it as you see fit. Some families will choose 4 days per week, some every day, some a few months on then 1-2 weeks off. But you will find a way that fits your family and child’s needs. Don’t stress out too much in the beginning. We recommend just picking a curriculum like you will find online and go with it. There are many free ones available like in the below table. Once you get going, you will know what is working and if it is suitable for your child and you. 

Free Online Curriculums(Maybe Free Trials)

The reason we say use a free curriculum, in the beginning, is there is no correct way. Once you start you will get immediate feedback and experience. Then you have a sense of the difficulty, your child’s style of learning preferences, and your teaching style. Then you are more able to be able to select a more advanced option like purchasing a ready-made Open and Go curriculum. We list some of the most widely used options below that you can check out. They are convenient because they come with easy to follow guides and you just open the books and they tell you what you need to do.

Open and Go curriculums

Log and Record the Progress

log and record progress
Record the Progress

Once you are up and going with your lessons, you will need to keep good records of the progress. This means you need to log what they have learned and keep a good record of the quizzes or tests. If they passed them or if they require some remedial work that’s fine. But the key is to retain the records and this serves 2 main purposes. Firstly, for your own sake and your child. You will be amazed at how much they learn and how fast it goes! It’s very easy to forget and this is a good way to be able to review anything if there seems to be a need. 

And the second reason may be for your school district. If for some reason you need to enter a traditional school you have the records. The school principal might need to review and assess which level your child is at. Then you will be able to place them in the right grade. In the future, you may also continue through high school. During that period you will need even better records since the colleges or universities will need your records and transcripts. This will be if you plan for your child to follow this track. 

Instill a Love of Learning While They are Young

instill a love of learning
Instill the Love

Instilling a love of learning when they are young just makes sense right? No matter if your little one is going to be homeschooled or not. If we could only convey one thing it would be to start early, build the love for learning! Because we as parents, have a long mission and we need it to start well with our children enjoying the process. There will be many times when it feels insurmountable and you will feel like giving up. However, remember if they love learning, there is always hope!  

We’re responsible for creating an environment of support that allows children to develop their ideas, express their feelings, take risks, make choices, and most of all, grow to be strong, thinking individuals.

Teaching Children to Love Learning, Ellen Booth Church

This statement is something I found after our short journey of homeschooling, however, it rings so true. We were doing this already by involving our son in the process. And when we went to the library, for example, we did allow him to select the books and topics for science. And we do ask for his opinion about which subjects he feels like tackling first. Sometimes he wants to do math first. Sometimes it’s writing, but it’s up to him now. We feel this lets him express his ideas and let him make choices and be independent! As an American, this is something I think our culture most values, independence.

I’m a dad of 3 kids and I can tell you that when my wife brought up homeschooling I was shocked! I had no idea what to expect. But I didn’t think too much since it was so far off into the future. Well, now it’s here! We are doing it and we learned so much along the way. You might have noticed that our advice on how to start focused mainly on the preparation, right? It’s because we firmly believe you can’t rush homeschooling. You must take the time to let your child acquaint themselves with this new educational style. Education is happening all the time. Every day you teach them something new. But most of the time they don’t notice. 

Starting to formally homeschool is a big task that takes much preparation and we find interaction with our family and children. You cannot force it without creating a tense family environment. You must instill a love of learning early especially if you want to do homeschooling. This is why we focus and try to present to you how we prepared and started very early to prime our son. Is this the only way? Maybe you will find another solution, however, we find it has delivered good results so far! Our son enjoys learning and he looks forward to subjects like drawing, math, and reading. At times he has a hard day with writing, but we have found a solution and take it easy.

This is another point we’d like to emphasize, pace! We experiment with different paces in the beginning. Our source of inspiration and main resource, in the beginning, was The Well Trained Mind by Susan Bauer Wise. This is the go-to resource we constantly checked in the beginning. It is so informative and clearly defines the stages and all the subjects, schedules, and timing to spend as reference. 

Find Families for Socialization & Support

socialization and support
Socialization & Family!

Many resources exist in your community already like other homeschooling families. There are numerous Facebook groups and co-ops if you search. We left this for last because we know from experience that you can be easily swayed by others if you ask for opinions before you even have any foundational experience of homeschooling. We are not suggesting to reinvent the wheel but we suggest waiting until you have a good understanding and experience before you start accessing outside resources or homeschooling groups. The situation for you may be different than ours, but you can decide if this is important or not. 

Socialization is also going to be a major factor in your homeschool. As you will be the leader of all interactions, classes, and curriculum, you must also create opportunities for making friends with others. Social skills must be planned for, so do not neglect this important aspect of your homeschool. Just because the term “homeschool” sound slike everything is done in the “home”, this is not exactly true. Many families have outside classes or activities that they participate in. Extracurricular sports and other fun opportunities exist outside of the home. And the good news is that you might have more chances for social time than if your child was in a traditional school. 

In summary we find that you must take the time to fully prepare for homeschooling a 5-year-old. It cannot be rushed or all involved will be stressed out and most likely this will leave a bad impression on your child. As a parent you might even feel discouraged and give up. But we recommend you take time to involve your child in the process and they will enjoy learning. This ultimately is the goal and you can instill a love of lifetime learning in your child!

Robert Dad

I'm Robert "Daddy" Macias the father of 3 wonderful kids. I am embarking on a new journey of homeschooling and green living. I realized my wife and mothers all over the world were doing this all by themselves. So I realized as a dad, I must jump into action!

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