Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Interactive Online Lessons and Technology

So you want to use or are now using an online curriculum for your kindergarten age child. Have you made the right decision? Time will tell for sure. In the mean time, let’s explore what makes up a good online interactive curriculum. The first thing that comes to mind is educationally sound interactive lessons. A good online curriculum utilizes technology. Your child should learn to use a keyboard and mouse if they don’t already know how to do so. A good online curriculum integrates lessons in computer skills and applications right into their curriculum. Your child might even learn computer-based word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation skills using interactive lessons. The skills acquired in those lessons should then be practiced through assignments in other subject areas. New skills should not be learned in isolation, but rather they should develop and appreciation of how to apply and expand the new skills they are learning.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Health and Safety

Most kids are naturally germy. They tend to touch everything in sight. That is one way they learn about the world around them and that is o.k. That is also one very good reason kindergarten children need to learn about health and safety. Most good online curriculum will include these in their general course of study. Some of the topics may also be covered under the heading of social studies. Typical health and safety topics include, but are not limited to the following:

* Personal hygiene
* Good eating habits
* Good grooming
* Care of teeth
* Major body parts
* Physical fitness
* Safety to and from school
* Safety rules and symbols
* Fire safety
* Safety at home and in the community

You can and should extend your child’s online health and safety lessons in the home and the community so they completely understand the importance of health and safety rules that we all try to follow. Be a good role model for them when you are out and about.

Monday, November 21, 2011


“I don’t want to do my school work today.” “Do I have to do my school work?” “I hate doing school.” “Just a few more minutes of television and then I promise I will finish my school work.” “I wish school was more fun.” How many times have you heard statements like these? I bet more times than you wish. School is not always fun everyday, however, you can make it a bit more interesting if you incorporate rewards and incentives along the way. Motivation, especially intrinsic motivation (the motivation that comes from within ones self), is a critical part of the education process. Motivation is a necessity so that learning becomes a continuing, improving, interesting and hopefully enjoyable process. Rewards are a part of the motivation process.

Reward ideas can be as simple as a sticker chart your child fills in each time a subject or assignment is completed--complete the activity, put a sticker on the chart. When a row is completed, a prize of some sort is earned. Game boards are even more fun. Check out this link for an idea involving a very cool and interesting game board your child is sure to have fun playing. I bet things are soon to change around your house very soon!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Music and Nursery Rhymes

Creative teachers or creative online resources can use music to teach various content across the curriculum. Teaching music to children will provide a new set of skills that will help to enhance their overall abilities. Kindergarten kids love to sing and learn new songs. What a super way to teach parts of the body, colors, numbers, names of the days of the week, names of the months of the years... Because a kindergarten age child has a relatively short attention span, keep your songs short and varied. It is better to do three five minute songs, than to spend 15 minutes on one song. So once again, choose songs that are either easy to teach, or that your child is already somewhat familiar with.

There is evidence that early learning of nursery rhymes and rhythmic poems, songs, and chants significantly enhances early reading skills and phonemic awareness. In fact, research highlights phonemic awareness as a strong predictor of a child’s reading success. What could be more fun and educational than learning to read and write by learning funny poems and rhymes!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Have you ever wondered why kids need to practice using scissors, other than to learn to be really safe that is? Children are taught to practice scissor skills or scissor cutting to strengthen hand muscles and coordination for later skills such as writing. Fine motor skills (those skills that involve the small muscle movements of his hands and fingers in coordination with his eyes) are developed through cut and paste activities. Be sure to practice scissor skills when your child is not tired. Choose a time of day when you and your child are relaxed. Some kids will ask for help if the task is too hard, so make sure you find scissor skills that are not too difficult. After all, the child needs the practice using scissors, not you. Check out this site for great ideas for scissor skill practice. Wow! School can be fun can’t it? Be sure to let your little one in on this secret.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Studies have indicated how crucial early child development is to becoming a life-long learner. From newborn to age six, 75% of a child’s brain growth is completed. Most reputable online resources use technology and lessons created by certified teachers to help facilitate development in the early years.
To help children grow and develop to their full potential, many parents enroll children in classes or online schools at the preschool level. That is not always necessary or good for the child. Some children are not ready to begin formal learning at such a tender, young age. Waiting until kindergarten age can be just as good.

While brain growth is rapid up until age six, who is to say that “formal” learning is required in order for the child to be successful later in life? Do you realize how much learning is accomplished in everyday living? When you read to your child, they are learning. When you talk to your child about the flowers you just planted, they are learning. When you ask questions after watching their favorite show, they are learning. Children benefit from down-time as much as adults do. Formal learning comes soon enough.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Help! Have You Been Where I Am?

“I just don’t know what to do anymore! Little Suzy won’t sit still longer than five minutes.” “Johnny is having problems telling the letter b from the letter d.” “I just am not sure if I should help Sally Ann more with her counting lessons. What do you think?” Can you find yourself in any of these scenarios? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could ask other folks who are using the same online curriculum you are using what there experience has been or what they have done in the same situation? Some online resources do offer a forum for users to communicate back and forth for the very reasons listed above--parents, teachers, or learning coaches sometimes have questions and would like to know what others who are using the same material have to say. If your online resource does not offer a forum for communicating, you can always search Yahoo Groups to find folks who are like-minded or who are using the same curriculum, and may be located within your city or state.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Does your child have a very short attention span? Do you know what the normal attention span should be for a kindergarten aged child? Maybe they are right on track for what is considered normal for their age. The average attention span for a kindergarten aged child is short--about 15 to 20 minutes long at most, and that depends on the interest level of the activity. If the activity was not self picked, their patience may play out well before the 15-20 minute guideline. To decide attention span length, use this as a guideline--3-5 minutes per the age of the child. Please keep in mind that since most kids can and do watch cartoons with no problem for thirty minutes at a time, this is not an accurate way to measure true attention span. When your child seems to be losing interest in a lesson, pause the lesson and take a break. You can always go back to the lesson later. Watch for fatigue in your child. They may try to focus too long in some instances. One way many online resources encourage children to remain focused on a lesson is by using animated graphics and flash animation. This is especially helpful for visual learners.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Handwriting is a very important skill for a kindergarten child to master. I bet you are wondering how in the world an online kindergarten curriculum offers handwriting as a subject since majority of the learning is done via the Internet. Well, that is an easy one to answer. While it is true that the content is offered via the Internet, you are still very much able to download and print handwriting resources on your printer. You are also able to make up your own handwriting sheets for your child to practice printing. Let’s say your child is learning about community helpers in social studies, you can print the names of several community helpers on a sheet of handwriting paper and have your child practice tracing them (that is if they know all of their ABC's). There are also wonderful sites on the Internet where you can download different fonts to your computer and print your own handwriting sheets. There are even sites where you can print different styles of handwriting paper. It just takes a little bit of your time to find the resources you need. Be sure to save them to your computer favorites in a file marked Kindergarten Handwriting or something similar.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Virtual World

Kindergarten age children should not be excluded from the virtual learning world simply because of their age and developmental levels. Some may not be able to read text, however, there are other forms of material that children can read and comprehend. For example, most children are usually able to recognize colors, pictures, and common symbols. This type of environmental print is an excellent starting point for children to interact within an online curriculum. Most children are able to comprehend pictures and symbols, thus they will comprehend the directions and understand what to do within a lesson. After all, comprehension is the ultimate goal in reading instruction. So don’t be afraid to look for an online resource that offers a comprehensive curriculum and a depth and breadth of educational content for early learners. Look for everything between ABC’s and 123’s to thank you and please within individual activities. You owe it to your child!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The New First Grade

Help! My kindergartner can’t read. Should they be able to read? Some say yes, some say no. No matter what the answer, keep in mind that kindergarten should not be the new first grade. It seems the focus has shifted from social to cognitive or academic learning. Some push kids too hard and too fast to become little first graders while they are still in kindergarten. Sometimes online kindergarten curriculum is too difficult for students to independently work with. Either there is too much text, a busy background, or too much chaos happening on the page. The child can’t always decipher what is meant to be important and what is meant to make the page look fun and interesting. Try to make sure the online resource you use strikes a balance between words and pictures. Ideally, the page will have few words so it can be easily interpreted by a typical student with basic computer skills. You as the learning coach will model and supervise. Show your child the importance of computer skills, and emphasize that literacy isn't necessary to understand, enjoy and learn from the Internet.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Learning Styles

A good online curriculum delivers content in varied learning styles because no two children learn the exact same way. Some kids are very visual/auditory while others might be visual/tactile. Do you know your own learning style? Chances are that you model in the way you learn best. What if your child doesn’t learn the same way you learn? We know that children enjoy being dependent on a teacher or adult to guide the way. They rely on others to determine the method of teaching, when it is delivered, and how. Advances in technology have revolutionized the way people learn. In choosing online programs, finding programs and tools that acknowledge variations in individual learning styles will go a long way in providing an effective learning experience. Now is the time for you to discover the learning style of your child and yourself so you will both be successful.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Tortoise and the Hare Syndrome

Little Johnny just can not remember his ABC’s or his numbers. Little Suzy knows all her ABC’s but she only knows fifteen words. Sally Ann has mastered the whole alphabet and knows her numbers to 100. She is reading very short books all on her own. Have you heard stories like these? Perhaps you see yourself in one of the stories. This is the tortoise and the hare syndrome. Some kids seem to hit the nail on the head and advance very quickly while others make progress, but it is slow going. Well, this is not a race. Children should be allowed to progress at their own speed. Most of us learn differently because we have different learning styles. Do you know your child’s learning style? (watch for more about learning styles in the next post)

It is important that your online curriculum uses student-paced lessons or bite-sized lessons. This makes it much easier for the child to comprehend the lesson and ensures a much higher percentage of activities being properly completed. Also, if you think your child is too slow or much too fast, re-examine your goals. It could be that your expectations are set too high or too low for your child.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Phonics and Language

Kindergarten Phonics instruction begins by teaching the sound/symbol relationship of letters, and the blending of these sounds together into words. Your kindergartner will encounter structured lessons on readiness skills through emphasis on phonics, language skills, and literature to help develop comprehension, build vocabulary, and promote a lifelong interest in reading during their online learning adventure. Lessons in phonics prepares your student to become an independent reader. Take time to practice retelling stories with your child, also try relating stories to personal experiences. Don’t forget to read daily to your child. Even kids through sixth grade benefit from being read to. Your online curriculum will most likely include story books your child will read aloud to you. Starfall is a wonderful site for you and your child to explore. It is a free site that helps children learn to read using phonics. It has online and offline resources. Check it out today.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Play Time-Is that a Necessary Skill?

Kids sit in front of the computer for three or four hours each day working on school. Sure you give them breaks and they stop for lunch and maybe p.e., but have you ever considered play time as a necessary skill? Maybe you are thinking that your kids have plenty of play time because you take them to dance lessons, karate lessons, soccer practice, guitar lessons... Actually, those are structured times. Down through the ages, folks have debated the merits of allowing kids unstructured time to play--to just be kids. Children who live hurried, structured lives are more likely to be stressed, which can lead to depression. "Old fashioned" toys such as dolls, trucks, and blocks encourage active play. Children with good amounts of unscheduled time learn to fill that time as well as manage it. So try to keep a healthy balance between online schooling and pure, old-fashioned free time for your children to have fun, let loose, and just plain play.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Social Studies and Life Skills

Playing house, pretending to be the teacher, driving a make-believe car... are all fantastic ways for kindergartners to learn life skills. Playing online games are another super way to learn valuable life skills. Kids today are expected to know more earlier and earlier, so it is wise to get a head start. Life skills include tying, buckling, buttoning, zipping and touch fastening clothing and shoes. Practice makes perfect, so get cracking, or zipping and buttoning should I say.

As students learn social studies content, they are expected to master a foundation in history; geography; economics; government; citizenship; culture; science, technology, and society; and social studies skills. They will understand the importance of patriotism, function in a free enterprise society, and appreciate the basic values of their state and nation. All well rounded online curriculum resources will include these skills as part of their program.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Math and Science

Math and science are both fun subjects. Try to use as many hands-on activities for teaching both. If you can see it and touch it, you have a much better chance of remembering it.

Kindergarten kids will learn about whole numbers as they count, add and subtract, analyze data, and measure. They will also learn about patterns (size, color, shape, and orientation), sort and classify, and believe it or not, they learn about geometry as they explore 2-D and 3-D shapes. Most online curriculum will have virtual geoboards, counters, calculators, number lines, pattern blocks, interlocking cubes, calendars, 2 and 3-D shapes, attribute blocks, and recording templates for your child to use during the math lesson.

The major emphasis in science is on scientific inquiry, life sciences, Earth and space sciences, and physical sciences. Your child will most likely learn about his body; plants and animals; measurement; matter; the seasons and weather; motion, the sun, moon and stars; natural or man-made; life cycles; sound and water...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Record Keeping

Have you thought about what type of records you should keep on your kindergartner? Perhaps the online resource you use keeps records for you. If they do, you are blessed. Simply print the reports and file away, store on your computer, or transfer to a jump drive and store. Some states require home school parents to keep records each year. You might not ever be required to turn those records in, but it is worthwhile to keep them handy. Besides, it is a great way to see the progress or lack of progress your student has made for the year.
It is a good idea to keep records showing some of the following:

~Subjects studied
~Grades (if you keep grades) for each grading period, the semester, and the year.
~Mastered skills
~Areas of concern or areas you would like to see improvement
~Resources used
~Field trips taken
~Samples of writing assignments
~Books read by your child or books you read to your child

Monday, March 21, 2011

Length and Depth

Have you ever wondered how long the school day should be for your kindergartner? Have you ever wondered what skills should be included each day? Keep in mind that you are homeschooling, this is not a brick and mortar environment. While the public school student attends classes for approximately 7 hours, many of those minutes and hours are spent lining up to go to the bathroom, lining up to go to lunch, lining up to go to recess or another class. Public classroom teachers spend quite a bit of time passing out papers to 20 children, stopping a lesson to discipline a child, explaining and re-explaining a lesson until everyone understands... These are activities that will not be a time waster for you. The typical day for your kindergartner will be approximately three hours long, or less. Some days might be a little longer and some days might be a little shorter. As far as the subjects are concerned, make sure you include math, reading (phonics), science, art, music, social studies, life skills, physical activity, writing, and whatever else your child is most interested in learning.

Monday, March 7, 2011


So, you have decided to home school your kindergartner using an online resource. Now is the time to take out a sheet of paper and put your goals down so you can see them in writing. Goals? Do I need goals? Yes, really you do need goals so you can evaluate your progress as you go along. You will have lots of different types of goals-personal goals for yourself, goals for your child, goals about the curriculum... Your goals do not have to be very detailed, just an idea of what you expect. Some ideas for goals are:

Curriculum--easy to use, aligned to state or national standards, challenging without being too hard or too easy, has some form of record keeping system in place, fun, animated, appeals to visual and auditory learners, easy to navigate, quick log-on time, printable resources, phone and email contacts for help or questions, student paced lessons...

Child--can log-on easily, can navigate the lessons without trouble, is able to sit for 30 minutes at a time, makes adequate progress each month, enjoys the lessons, retains information learned...

Personal--watch my child excited to learn something new, watch my child grow in knowledge, witness my child being semi-independent with lessons, maintain up-to-date records of my child’s progress reports, spend less time/more time with my child during lessons, manage my time better with younger children in the family while my older child schools, help ensure my child builds a strong academic base that he can build upon as he continues to school...

Monday, February 21, 2011

What Do I Need?

I am sure you are wondering what constitutes a good online kindergarten curriculum. The curriculum should include core skills such as colors, counting, recognizing print, beginning phonics, word families, shapes and the like. Look for visual and auditory prompts in the lessons that guide the student, thus making the lessons easy for young learners to follow. The lessons and activities should be very engaging, fun, and highly educational for young children. Animated and interactive lessons are an easy and fun way to catch and keep the student’s attention. Check lesson demos and instructions to evaluate what level of participation you, the learning coach, will be involved each day.

Before committing to an online company, review their policies on price and payment procedures, refunds, attendance, record keeping, whether or not they require a contract, advancing to the next grade level if your child excels and moves quickly, discounts for multiple children (if this applies to your situation), procedures for canceling your account... Keep all emails you receive from the company (about the questions you may have) in a folder on your computer, Print hard copies if you like.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What is an Online Curriculum Anyway?

Maybe you want to home school your kindergartner or maybe you just want to supplement what your kindergarten child is learning at school. An online curriculum might just be the ticket. But what is an online curriculum anyway? It is a set of courses and their content offered by an online company. It is a fun way for your child to learn via the Internet in the privacy of your own home. The program will most likely be entirely web based.

Perhaps you don’t think you can adequately teach your child, or perhaps you don’t have the time to put together lessons for each day’s learning. An online curriculum for your kindergarten student would be very helpful. The lessons are supplied and taught by the company with some coaching from you. Make sure to research the company carefully. Most reputable online resources align their curricula to state or national standards. A good company will offer a demo of their lessons or even a free trial period for you and your child to test drive them.