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Homeschooling a 5 Year-Old: Math and Reading Ideas

September 26, 2022

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Welcome back! If you took time to read my first post about kindergarten and are back for more, blessings upon you. I know these posts may seem a bit academic and lengthy, but my heart is to help other homeschool parents and share what I have learned so far. I have spent many hours researching, reading, and thinking about various curricula, and I would be blessed knowing my research helped someone.


So let’s dive into a few K5 curriculum ideas for math and reading today.


Math


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I truly cannot say enough good about this curriculum. Written by a home educator, this curriculum is tailor made for homeschoolers and works beautifully in the home setting. Kate Snow, a Harvard grad, could not find a math curriculum on the market that met her criteria, so she set out to develop one. She currently offers comprehensive math programs for preschool, kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade. 3rd and 4th grade are coming soon, and I hope she continues writing for all the grades! Here are a few reasons why I love this curriculum.


  • This curriculum is engaging, and my oldest often begs to “do math.”

  • The lessons are appropriate lengths and take into consideration the attention span of a five year old.

  • No expensive math manipulatives are needed for this program, and I can simply use household items. The only unusual item required is a set of pattern blocks easily found online for less than $20 per set.

  • The teacher edition is scripted giving confidence to the most hesitant homeschool parent.

  • The curriculum is very hands on with a balance of bookwork. The workbook is beautiful, and my daughter loves to write in it.

  • This curriculum is not cumbersome, requiring massive space. Our home is not large, and I simply don’t have room to store tons of curricula.


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Reading


Earlier in a post about Teaching Reading at Home, I stated that I agonized over what curriculum to use with my children. I’ve settled on a program that is a little out of the box yet rooted in very traditional concepts of teaching reading.


Have you ever heard of Webster’s Blueback Spellers? Back in the day, children were taught how to spell their way into reading, and this concept is exactly what Mrs. Wanda Sanseri teaches in her Spell to Write and Read program. The basic premise is that if children can spell the sounds that they hear, then they can read. The program is a bit of a reverse from our modern thinking which focuses on teaching how to read and then teaching spelling later.


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Spell to Write and Read is a robust language arts program which includes spelling, reading, writing, and even includes some grammar and history instruction. Some children may need a little extra instruction in reading, but Mrs. Sanseri states that most children can learn to read using this program alone. She has even used this program to remediate struggling adult readers, to teach special needs children, and to teach non-native English speakers.


Honestly, this has not been an easy program to wrap my brain around, and I have read the entire book and reread many portions. There were times of discouragement that I considered using something else. But every time I stepped away from the program in my thinking, I kept thinking how this program appears to me to be one of the very best language arts programs I’ve ever seen. I also heartily appreciate the strong Christian emphasis and the many references to the Christian heritage of America.


This program is unbelievably thorough in teaching every single phonogram (individual sound of the English language). Think of a phonogram as a building block of a word. By teaching children all the phonograms in English, they can connect any phonograms and theoretically read any word (once they know all the spelling rules).

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A sample page from my kindergartener's Learning Log


All the sounds of the English language and how to write them are presented very quickly to the learner in a matter of weeks. Complete mastery of the phonograms is not expected at the outset, and Mrs. Sanseri says that over time children will master the phonograms and how to spell, write, and read them. Mrs. Sanseri recommends staying away from what she calls “pokey phonics” which are programs that take a long time to introduce phonograms. By introducing all the phonograms relatively quickly, children have an increased interest in reading and will comprehend the concepts quicker.


This program is not cluttered with cutesy songs, characters, and gimmicks. For some, the previous statement may be troubling, and you may desire attention grabbing features in a reading program such as an imaginary character coordinated with each letter. If that is your style, then go for it! As a child, I took everything very literally and often got lost in the analogies and characters woven into curriculum. I struggled to learn reading, and perhaps a more straightforward approach would have helped me. The straightforward nature of SWR may seem boring to some, but the possibilities of reading at a young age seems limitless and exciting to me.


I do not have time in this post to go into intricate detail about SWR and how to use it, but maybe your interest is piqued. If you do decide to use it, may I just say don’t get discouraged and stick with it. I would recommend buying the Spell to Write and Read CORE Kit which has everything you need.



The runner up for reading curriculum in my personal study was The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. Though the title is a little long, the book is exactly what the title describes it to be: a book for any parent to teach reading phonetically. No special education degrees are needed to utilize this book, and in fact the scripted lessons make the book incredibly easy to use. Like SWR, The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading takes a very straightforward approach to reading, uncluttered with characters and gimmicks. For a homeschool mom who is drowning in stuff and curriculum, she will find this curriculum minimal and easy to store. I plan on filling in any gaps from SWR with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading with my own children.


If you read to the end of this post, you win the prize! Well, there’s not really a prize, but seriously, I hope you gleaned something useful. Even if you are not a homeschooling parent, maybe you can share a resource with a homeschool parent.


-Ashley


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