Beginning Homeschooling When Your Oldest is 5: 4 Moms

This week I’m going to talk about beginning homeschooling. Most likely those who need this advice (those whose children are all under 5 or 6) are not ready to hear it.moms of many manage That’s fine, but if you’re ready to hear this, here is your permission to relax, enjoy and step into homeschooling slowly.

One of the things that I consider a big success of our homeschooling is that our children LOVE to learn, they LOVE “school work” and (don’t tell them this) much of what they choose to do in their free time many people would consider “educational”.

Every day when I ask the children to get the books out for school (we read aloud a LOT) the little ones jump up and down, cheer, clap and run to get the books. During the first trimester of this pregnancy when I was too sick to even think about school, all of our children continued doing their independent assignments on their own.  Nearly everyday when we get to the end of our read aloud time, the children beg for me to read more.

I attribute much of this to our method of homeschooling.

We do very little textbook/workbook/busy work teaching. We do lots of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (when you rise up, walk by the way, lie down) teaching.

We do very little “go to the table and work on this by yourself” teaching. We do lots of “lets sit down together and read and discuss this” teaching.

We provide very little entertainment (TV, video games, silly board games, books or toys, etc.) in our home. We encourage lots of production (reading, cooking, music, sewing, wood carving, furniture/fort/tree house building, journaling, etc.) in our home.

Since our children are usually all studying the same topics during “school time”, when our children are playing outside they enjoy reenacting what we’re learning. (The Battle of Tours, the digging of the Panama Canal, the War Between the States, etc. have all been reenacted in our backyard.)

The Panama Canal??

Since I was homeschooled as a child and have been closely watching parents homeschool their children since then, I KNEW a lot about what I wanted and didn’t want when it came to educating my own children.

Mark and I also had lots of discussions about how to make our children’s education to be most closely aligned with the patterns for education laid out in the Bible.

So here are my thoughts on homeschooling when your oldest turns 5.


One of the most common mistakes that moms make when they begin homeschooling is to start too much, too early and too structured. When your child turns 5 he/she is officially “in school” and so you order the K5 homeschooling set from a popular homeschooling provider. When you do this your child will have textbooks and workbooks that teach all of these subjects:

  • Bible
  • Art
  • Science
  • Heritage studies (history)
  • Listening
  • Oral composition
  • Phonics
  • Reading comprehension
  • Math
  • Music

All of this complete with worksheets and activities that the child must complete to prove to you he’s actually learning. And since he’s “officially in school” and you have all of these assignments and worksheets you feel compelled to do everything or else you’ll get to the end of the school year and lament that your child is “behind”.

I know, I know, that’s what they do in the traditional schools all around us. But should that be our standard? Are their results the results we want for our children? (Why Kid’s Hate School – about 1 in 7 adults in the U.S can’t read ~U.S. Education Department – 70-88% of American youth leave the church)

There is nothing magical about age 5.  Hopefully when your child turns 5 you will simply continue what you’ve been doing with the possibility of adding some reading or phonics if your child is ready.

Well before our children turn 5 we make a conscious effort to educate them for God’s glory and according to His standards. When they turn 5 we simply continue what we’ve begun.

This education includes character training (not with textbooks and worksheets), Bible reading and discussion, Bible memorization, reading, reading and more reading (we read lots of picture books, but also classic children’s literature like Winnie the Pooh, Charlotte’s Web, Among the Pond People – and others in this series, Trial and Triumph, etc.), basic, real-life math (again, not workbooks) and nature studies (by catching and keeping critters, identifying plants/animals/tracks, etc.).

Bottom line: The traditional schools don’t hold the secret to a good education. Don’t do what they’re doing just because they’re doing it.

Don’t be a slave to curriculum and/or hands-on activities

Nearly everything a 5 or 6 year old needs to learn can be learned without a formal curriculum. Other than a reading/phonics program (if you desire).

If you want something to give you an idea of how to homeschool naturally from real books check out Five in a Row. It peaks the kid’s curiosity with quality literature and then gives opportunity for them to learn more.

On the other side of the coin, there are loads of ideas out there for “educational” projects and activities. While incorporating some of these into homeschooling is fun and beneficial, even if you don’t officially do this your children will come up with hands-on activities of their own. I’m a big believer in having lots of craft supplies available, giving lots of outside playtime and ensuring that the children have enough free time to benefit from learning on their own.

Tom Sawyer

Bottom line: Don’t feel guilty for not doing what someone else is doing.

Teach to the child not the age

If your child is 4 years old, begging to learn to read and zooming through reading lessons, it is probably a great time to teach them.

If they’re asking to learn to read, but struggle with reading lessons, just wait. You will only cause frustration for both you and your child if you try to teach them something that they are not developmentally ready to learn.


 We teach reading when our child shows an interest and makes good progress with reading lessons. We begin to teach handwriting when our child begins to write letters on his own.

Bottom line: Your goal is to teach your individual child academics for the glory of God, not to keep up with kid next door.

Memorize, memorize, memorize

For our family we focus primarily on memorizing Scripture passages, but we’ve also memorized catechisms, poems, states and capitals, countries, presidents, etc.

We begin helping our children memorize as soon as they start saying words and have continued until present day.

Bottom line: Hide God’s Word in your heart.

Teach him to love God and others

Remember that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. If you or your child reject the truth of God’s Word and accept the lie of man, that somehow we can be “well educated” apart from the centrality of Scripture then,

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Will you skip Bible reading in order to finish up the math lesson? Cut out family worship to make sure they have time to finish their homework assignments? Then perhaps you should examine your priorities.

Bottom line: Uncompromising commitment to the Word of God is God’s definition of LOVE.   Sometimes loving others is being willing to stand on the Word of God and lovingly explain that they are wrong.

Homeschool everyday

Everyday is an opportunity to learn for both us and for our children. Read to your child. Open your eyes to the opportunities around you, listen to your child’s questions, engage your child. Don’t spoon feed information but give opportunities to explore and learn about the world around him.

Bottom line: Spend every day teaching your child about God and how we can learn more about Him by learning about the world around us.

I recently posted specifics about what we did and didn’t do when our oldest turned 5 which gives a lot more specifics on this topic.

You may also be interested in:

Be sure to visit the other 4 Moms to read what they have to say about this topic:

KimC at Life in a Shoe
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Headmistress at The Common Room


For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.

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15 Responses to Beginning Homeschooling When Your Oldest is 5: 4 Moms
  1. Rachel E.
    July 19, 2012 | 10:11 am

    I haven’t been here for a while, but I thought the topic was interesting enough. I like the idea of letting kids be kids and enjoy education as they explore God’s word and His world. Awesome concept, right? I have been one of those moms. No more. Right now, I am taking a slow approach into my “soon to be 4yo” preschool and kinder. We are just working on letter recognition. We are on letter h and it’s been 7 months…how’s that for slow?


  2. Katrina
    July 19, 2012 | 10:45 am

    I really needed to read this. I find myself so consumed with finishing the curriculum, that I miss the whole point of enjoying homeschooling. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂


  3. RG
    July 19, 2012 | 11:27 am

    I completely agree with this philosophically, but, alas, there are some red states where documentation begins early and there is a lot of pressure on the parents to stay up to standards with the fear of children being taken from the home if the State feels the parents are delinquent in this area. My state isn’t so rigid until they turn 6, and in special cases,7. Keep in mind, though, that you need to know your State laws.


  4. ashley rahar
    July 19, 2012 | 12:23 pm

    I really like your style and, by nature, I am more of an unschooler than traditional. Although, I find that in order to look like I’m doing it ‘right’, I have to do traditional schooling. I also find that in ‘unschooling’ we tend to get lazy and I focus more on household things than actually helping my kids learn. My oldest are just now 5 & almost 7. We’ve been steadily doing calendar time, Bible character study (from a book) and math…that’s about the extent of our day so far, and from texts. What you do can be very overwhelming to a person like me, who hasn’t taught memorization from birth…I see your post on organizing it. Do your kids get bored with it? I have mine repeat our weekly verse and it’s like pulling teeth! I know this can be a loaded question of ‘how do you keep your kids interested’ in things such as math skills and memorization, but it IS something we struggle with. My kids LOVE creating and craft/art time, and also journaling (which is basically drawing).


  5. Kara Flathouse
    July 19, 2012 | 12:53 pm

    Thank you for the insight. Even though we are starting our 4th year homeschooling, this is my first year with a kindergartener!


  6. Monique
    July 19, 2012 | 3:59 pm

    You are awesome friend! Thanks for thinking all this out and posting it with all your links. I think it can be so easy to feel like you’re in hostile territory when you refuse to skip cheerfully down the broad path that the majority of our nation’s children have taken, getting squinty eyes from the “experts” who promise they know better. Not that I’ve found a soapbox, or anything 🙂


  7. Catherine Vos
    July 19, 2012 | 4:31 pm

    I am very interested in your whole way of life, particularly the way you have a focus on production rather than entertainment. Do you have any tips for a family ( children are 5, 4 and 2 1/2 years old) where they are trying to change to that kind of way of life. Neither my husband or I have very many production skills, and we have used far too many entertainment type toys and DVDs (although these were carefully chosen) No need to go into those reasons why, I will just say I spent my first 4 years of parenting in overwhelmed survival mode. I want to change that but struggle to work out how. Am also curious as to what you call silly books and board games..?


  8. Homeschool on the Croft
    July 19, 2012 | 4:34 pm

    This is wonderful to read. I regret so much the extent to which we’ve ‘done school’ at home, but when I began homeschooling here in Scotland, I had nothing to go on – no other homeschooling examples, not even online friends who were homeschooling! I am not consumed with feelings of regret, but in my heart I know that *your* way is they ‘way to go’! I do hope our own kids, who will have had our experience (and I am pretty laid back compared with some, thankfully) will be able to draw on what they’ve experienced and ‘go the whole hog’.
    By the way – we are so blessed here in Scotland – in all of the UK – in that we have NO legislation governing homeschooling. WE have total and complete freedom here… truly we are the Land of the Free 😉

    I’m going to share this link on my FB page. It’s just so good.


  9. Lisa Reynoso
    July 19, 2012 | 4:47 pm

    This makes so much sense to me! I just need to get into reading more to my kids. They love it. It’s just so easy to get distracted with the to-do list and the want-to-do list. But now nursing a new baby has slowed me down, so I am trying to take at least one or two nursing sessions to read to the kids. It’s so much fun watching my 3-year-old “read” books that have been read to him. He hasn’t memorized them exactly, but he grasps the concept of each page and remembers certain words and repeats them on each page.


  10. Christie
    July 19, 2012 | 5:56 pm

    Hi! I have been following your blog for a while (I know, I know – I’m one of those blog stalkers! I actually have tried to leave comments before but inevitably internet cuts out or something. My husband and I are missionaries in Nigeria, and internet leavea a little to be desired, so let’s hope this one works!), and I really respect your method of schooling. I’m trying to figure out, actually, how we can implement this when our children are older.

    My question, though, is what, exactly do you consider “silly games” and “silly books”? Are there guidelines you use to determine how a book, game or toy is deemed unworthy? Ihave been quite curious about this since I first read you mention this a couple months ago, I think….

    Thanks for any input! 🙂


  11. Dawn@OneFaithfulMom
    July 19, 2012 | 6:00 pm

    I would like to say to those who call this type of education “unschooling” that they couldn’t be more wrong. Unschooling is letting the child lead by what they are interested in and not demanding any type of formal learning.
    Kimberly has been very clear in many posts that she and her husband spend time determining what they want their children to study.

    Kimberly, I am happily sharing this on my One Faithful Mom facebook page.
    It is so wonderfully written and well thought out…I feel very comfortable recommending it to those young moms I know that are getting started this year, or are already burned out from last year.


  12. Adele
    July 19, 2012 | 10:49 pm

    Hi Kimberly,
    I want to thankyou for your honesty and courage. It has been promised that it is not easy to walk the narrow path, and the blessing certainly follows you… You have helped me in organisation previously, i saw you as my forebarer, and you planted the seed of homeschooling when i was toying with the idea 6 months ago, problem was hubby allowed the idea of the kids going to school to say goodbye, and toward the end of those holidays the kids were so excited to go, my courage and security waned and the plan to homeschool, was kinda whipped out from under me…
    This post confirms all the things i have since reflected on, and as we move into ministry next year, hubby said i can definately homeschool if we arent attached to the churches school, due to offence (which im pondering useing your biblical provisons to sway the decison ,thankyou because i may not have been so biblically based had you not openly shared it)

    I felt crushed, then i felt spineless, but slowly i have come to feel certain, cemented on the rock, encouraged through you, a fresh peace and wisdom, and guided by the way…The truth you share is complete and utmost appreciated. Which is absolutely the best way to take on this loving journey.


  13. Anita Chamblee
    July 25, 2012 | 9:36 am

    Sharing this with my oldest daughter, Lauren….who was homeschooled all the way through. She will begin homeschooling her children this fall (ok, WE know she’s been doing it all along, but you know what I mean). Her oldest turned 5 this month, then she has a 3 year old, a 21 month old and a 6 month old. Whew!!


  14. Rachael R
    July 29, 2012 | 11:31 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this!!! My mother and I were just talking about what curriculum I needed to purchase this year for my soon-to-be 6yr old. My husband and I just moved and cannot really afford anything, but thought the curriculum a “must”. I’ve always thought that they push kids too far too young in academics and don’t allow them to be just kids. I needed to know I’m not the only one who believes that way!


  15. Leslie
    October 18, 2012 | 7:26 pm

    My oldest just turned 6. I need to read this post once a week! Thanks for the reminder to not compare with the neighbor kid. We do lots and lots of reading. The kids play a lot which provides so many learning and teaching times. They learn to play with others and how to act when they don’t get what they want and how to respect authority! Thanks again for all you share.


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