Why Kindergarten Is The Toughest Year

I have a theory which says that kindergarten is the toughest year. Let’s see… Where shall I begin? This is such an obvious statement to me, I have a hard time organizing all the bombarding thoughts that come to me in its support.

For starters, you are likely to be pretty new to homeschooling. If this is your first child, then you are a nervous wreck. You are scared by the whole enormity of taking on your child’s education as your personal responsibility and the negative words of Aunt Suzy or Grandma Thelma still ring through your ears. May the Lord bless all the Suzys and Thelmas of the world with more knowledge on the subject of homeschooling and sensitivity, right?

Girl counting with math teddy bears

My daughter, in Kindergarten this year, learning (playing?) with the math teddy bears.

Secondly, you probably think that every day that goes by without doing at least an hour of the 3 Rs is a wasted day. It is not, but you don’t really accept this if this is your first child. You will probably be more relaxed by the second child’s kindergarten year though. 

Thirdly, you are dealing with a five-year-old who wants to play and do his own thing. It is hard to teach a five-year-old, let’s face it.

Fourth, who wants to get out the manipulatives and play dough? But a kindergartner wants to handle and touch things. Besides, he needs the tactile stimulation in preparation for fine motor skills like handwriting.

Fifth, if you started said kindergartner in music lessons, you must now enforce daily practice. Good luck trying to motivate a five-year-old to practice on a day when he concluded that he actually hates piano or violin or whatever instrument he is learning.

Sixth, you have housework to do and this nonsense is getting to you. Why can’t we just sit down and do 10 minutes of phonics and check homeschooling off our list already? Because you are dealing with a five-year-old, remember?

Seventh, before you teach this child anything, you have to teach him boundaries. Or respect. Or obedience, however you want to see it. And obedience is tough. If you have not accomplished this in the preschool years, it’s even harder with a five-year-old. Every child is different, too. What worked for your first may not work for your second.

Besides, even an obedient child may have an off day. We all have bad days. Why can’t we allow a five-year-old to have a bad day? But if you relax and declare it is a day of unschooling, you still have this nagging feeling of “I am going to destroy this child’s future because we are not counting math teddy bears now…”

Of course, delaying pen and paper academics is a good idea for some children. Learning can happen in so many ways without having to strain their eyes and torture their attention spans. But not doing anything with a five-year-old seems wrong, too. Unschooling has not won me over yet. There is a fine line between teaching a kindergarten student and killing his spirit with learning activities.

Later on, when a child is older, when the household has established a routine and a consequence for not doing school work, homeschooling is smooth sailing. I know from experience. But not in kindergarten.

Which is why kindergarten is the toughest year. Enough said.

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