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While it is possible to teach reading without a curriculum, using one may provide just the right support you need in your homeschool. Let’s take a look at some of the best kindergarten reading curriculum options on the market.
“I can’t WAIT to teach my kids how to read!” (said pretty much no homeschool mom ever).
There can be a lot of pressure for us to teach our kids to read, and read well. And as our kids enter kindergarten, teaching reading is often one of the first big tasks we face as homeschool moms. It can feel like all eyes are on us, and how we are going to live up to this whole “teacher” role. Can we do it?
I remember being so nervous about this as a new homeschool mom: it seemed like such a big undertaking! And as a former high school math teacher, I had never come close to teaching anyone to read before.
Trigonometric functions and factoring? No sweat. Basic reading skills? Cue the nerves!
It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that reading is fun, creative, and we have quite the privilege to be able to teach our kids to read through homeschooling!
The journey of learning to read is an exciting time for young children. New worlds open up and their imaginations begin to blossom: swashbuckling pirates finding buried treasure on deserted islands, delicate fairies dancing across the tops of poppies, curious crickets and wriggly worms becoming friends in the forest. It all comes to life!
I have heard stories of kids who have picked up on reading simply by looking over mom or dad’s shoulder during story time. Some kids tend to need more direct instruction. It’s important to keep in mind the different rates children will learn to read in our homeschools; some are ready for a structured reading curriculum by kindergarten, and some just need a little more time and more relaxed options. Both are ok.
So is it really necessary for you, the homeschool parents, to incorporate a kindergarten curriculum when it comes to reading? Could you benefit from using one?
Well, let’s take a look.
How Children Start to Read
The first thing is for you to understand what reading is, in its simplest form.
When you break it down to its core, reading is a bunch of symbols (letters) put together to create predictable sounds, and reading is about learning to crack those codes.
Uppercase or Lowercase Letters?
There is actually a bit of debate as to whether begin teaching uppercase or lowercase letters first. Some say uppercase letters are easier to read and write for young kids. But others argue that since lowercase letters are more prominent in our reading, it is better for kids to learn to “decode” these first.
I think there is a definite benefit to getting your child to recognize and confidently read the lower-case letters of the alphabet and their sounds before moving on to teaching them sight words. Some easy ways to enhance lower-case letter learning are:
- Playdough mats
- Draw the letters with sidewalk chalk
- Finger trace the letters in colorful grains of rice
- Create simple word searches looking for specific letters
- Buy a giant alphabet poster that your child can look at while lying in bed before falling asleep, or in your homeschool room
Learning Sight Words
Once they can recognize the letters and the sounds they make, it will be an easier transition to learning sight words, which will allow your child to read without stopping to sound everything out. It allows a continuous flow of reading for them.
Words like: the, stop, can, and will are frequently used, and with constant practice, your child will begin to instantly recognize them and won’t need to sound them out.
The best way your child will learn is to practice, practice, practice. You can do this with flashcards or with fun sight word games. Make these games, and suddenly they are easy lessons! Grab your set of FREE Color by Sight Word activity sheets to use when practicing sight words with your kids.
Phonics instruction introduces children to the concept that words are made up of letters, and letters represent sounds. Children can then decode words by sounds. Phonemic Awareness is an important skill and it is different from phonics.
Phonemic awareness is the ability to work with sounds, or phonemes, in language and it develops in stages. Children need to learn to be able to manipulate the sounds of the words; they must learn to blend them, substitute, and split them. Children who can learn to do this will enter reading a lot more confidently than children who can’t, so it is in their best interest to practice this continuously.
This is one of the reasons that the English language is a difficult language to learn: there are only 26 letters, but 44 sounds!
Best Kindergarten Reading Curriculum Picks
Just like you have a science curriculum or a math curriculum, the wise homeschooling mom will invest in a solid reading and phonics curriculum, as reading is the basis of everything that we do and therefore a vital skill.
It is certainly possible to teach reading without a curriculum, but if you like the idea of having everything already put together, organized, and structured for you, reading programs might be the way to go. Using a curriculum helps me rest easier knowing I’m not leaving anything important out!
Let’s jump in and have a look at some of the best kindergarten reading curriculum options you might try in your homeschool.
This curriculum was recommended to me over and over when I began researching how to teach my kindergartner to read. We absolutely loved the program, and I used it again with my twin daughters a couple of years later.
All About Reading is a fun and affordable reading curriculum, founded by a mom who was told her dyslexic son would never read or write. It’s open-and-go (which means little to no prep – bonus!), multisensory, and mastery-based using the Orton-Gillingham method.
To begin you simply complete a free online placement test to find out which level your child should begin at and then order the relevant pack. There are four levels to work through and once your child has completed all four levels, they should be able to confidently decode any word.
The Pre-Reading package is often used with preschoolers and kindergartners, although some kinders may be ready for Level 1 (the level numbers do not necessarily correspond with a grade level, so it’s definitely recommended to take the placement test!).
All About Spelling is a curriculum that will go hand-in-hand when your child is ready. The spelling portion progresses through seven levels and encourages you to work on spelling for only 20 minutes a day. You can customize this to suit your family; work faster through areas that your child feels confident in, and pace yourselves when the concepts are more tricky.
Have a quick peek at All About Reading’s free resources to get a feel for what they offer. I think you’ll see quickly why they make the cut for one of the best homeschool reading curriculum options!
We love BJU Press and use them for the bulk of our homeschool curriculum now. Their content is academically sound and written from a biblical context. BJU Press does not offer a separate kindergarten reading curriculum per se, but their Focus on Fives kindergarten program helps lay a strong foundation in phonemic awareness and important reading strategies.
The program aims to help build your child’s phonetic knowledge, and then progresses to the 44-sounds within the English language phonemic awareness area. There is also a strong focus on teaching children how to expand their vocabulary, their fluency, and their comprehension.
What I really like about purchasing the BJU Press complete kits is that you have everything you need, not only for your reading lessons, but all other basic kindergarten subjects. You also have the choice to purchase the online program, or do a parent-led option.
In addition to grammar and the mechanics of the English language, BJU Press has additional workbooks for handwriting and spelling, which will be useful as your kids get older. They include digital literacy development in their English curriculum which equips children with the basic skills they need to do research and find useful information, and how document these internet resources correctly.
BJU Press Focus on Fives is a great option to consider for your kindergarten reading needs that will not only provide your child with interesting hours and hours of learning, but it allows them to learn and read through a Biblical worldview lens.
The HOMER Early Learning Program is a digital foundational reading program that effectively teaches children how to read. It’s available as app, but the program also offers printables and other offline activities. It’s a great resource not just for your homeschool kindergarten reading curriculum, but you can actually begin using this program with your kids as young as 2 years old.
Their research-based approach has proven to build confident, life-long readers. You’ll see your child grow from learning their letters and individual sounds, to recognizing sight words, to reading and spelling brilliantly. The HOMER Program has three distinct components:
Learn & Play – this app is aimed at toddlers up to age 3 who are starting to learn about counting, shapes, color, and more. It also begins promoting independent work.
Learn & Grow – this particular app has been developed for kids between the ages of two and eight years old. This is a popular option as it meets kids at their skill level and interests, and in addition to reading, they also cover math, social-emotional learning, creativity, and more.
Learn with Sesame Street – the fun-loving characters over at Sesame Street teach children social-emotional behavior skills such as kindness and empathy, conflict resolution, and even tasting new foods!
With the Homer Early Learning Program, you can be sure that your kids aren’t just having fun, but they will find meaningful success.
The Reading Better Together curriculum is another great option for homeschool kindergarten students. Creator Sarah Miller is a teacher with years of experience, and developed this curriculum (which is backed by scientific research) when her son struggled daily with reading lessons. It didn’t take too much time and soon he was asking her if he could read the stories in their lessons, and wanted to read more over weekends too!
This program makes learning easy as the daily short lessons and fun activities are provided to ensure great success. Detailed lesson plans make it easy for you to teach. Building that love for reading, one of the main goals of Reading Better Together, is a great way for you to spend quality quiet time together as a family.
Learn more about Reading Better Together here.
The engaging online reading lessons and activities that Reading Eggs has created are based on five essential keys to success, namely phonetic skills, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency.
Children complete a placement test at the start of their journey and will have regular assessments to help them retain their new knowledge. Progress reports are sent to you, the parents, so you can be kept up-to-date with your child’s progress. This program is online (and also available as an app!), which gives children the chance to meet the colorful, and funny characters developed for this program, listen to the zany songs, and immerse themselves in what they are learning, in a fun and meaningful way.
Think of this as combining a fun reading game linked to their 21st-century innate desire for all things ‘techie’. This program is a good fit for visual learners who like color, animation, and playing games while learning. Check out Reading Eggs as a contender for your child’s kindergarten reading curriculum.
Children are multisensory, and sometimes need a completely different learning experience to thrive. Phonics in Motion has created its language arts curriculum to satisfy their holistic learning needs, teaching through motion and storytelling.
They begin with phonemic awareness teaching children the relationship between letters and sounds. Children will learn to visually recognize letters and match them to various sounds. They listen to the sounds and learn how to break them up, and will get their bodies moving with a motion to represent these letter sounds. Based on scientific research, this program engages the entire being.
In addition, you are provided with a teacher’s guide that clearly shows parents how to teach, so you will know how to get this knowledge across to your child successfully.
Learn more about Phonics in Motion here.
Top Tips to Enhance Basic Reading Skills
No matter which curriculum you choose, your goals probably include developing a love of learning so your children will have an unstressed time with their reading. The kindergarten years are fun; forget about clinical learning settings and transform your own home into a wonderful place where you can provide for your child’s learning needs. Cherish these preschool years.
Below are a few of the best practices I have used to assist our kiddos in their reading growth:
- Stick to shorter lessons for young learners. Even if you use a traditional curriculum, don’t be afraid to shorten lessons as needed.
- Offer your children a variety of activities and games to practice. Although too much screentime is not recommended, there are a lot of fun programs (like the ones mentioned above!) that can really be beneficial.
- Use picture books with sight words for easy recognition.
- Join your local library and visit often to pick out new books and participate in activities.
- Read their favorite books to them so they can hear the way words should be pronounced, which will help develop their language skills. Lots of read-aloud time!
- Leave a selection of great books in an easy-to-reach place and change these weekly.
- Keep a storybook in your bag for times of waiting (for example, waiting to pick up a sibling from an activity).
Don’t forget that your homeschool setting is the perfect environment for children to learn to read, as it is relaxed, self-paced, and familiar.
Make your reading time comfortable, make it relaxed, and make it fun! If you can develop a love of reading during the early years, you’ve already won half the battle.
I hope these recommendations help you in your journey to teach your kids to read and find the best curriculum for your homeschool. You can do this, mama!
And I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you’ve taught reading to your kids: what would you say is the best kindergarten reading curriculum, and why do you love it? Let us know!
If you’d like some more curriculum recommendations, along with a printable to keep track of your curriculum and other homeschool activities, I’d love to send you my FREE Curriculum and Activity Printable. Simply enter your information below and I’ll send it right to your inbox!
- Free Printable Game to Help Teach Your Kids Contractions
- 7 Proven Ways to Encourage a Reluctant Reader
- 20+ of the Best Books Every 4th Grader Should Read
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