Many parents are facing frustration, tears, and learning challenges as their young children engage in online schooling. The Ontario Education Act states that children of compulsory school age should receive no less than 5 hours of daily instruction (minus recess); however, spending this much time in online instruction has become torturous for many young students who yearn to move about, learn in smaller increments, touch, explore, and create. How much daily instructional time do Kindergarten to Grade 1 students really need? (Take a guess before reading on….)
In about thirty minutes per day, plus informal teaching as you go about your daily life, you can easily teach your child beginning reading, writing, and math concepts, all without workbooks or teacher’s manuals.Susan Wise Bauer, author of “The Well-Trained Mind”
Yes, you read correctly – not three, or four, or five hours, but just thirty minutes a day! Indeed, in Switzerland, which can be regarded as a country with very high educational standards, students are not taught to read, write, or do math in Kindergarten at all, but rather focus on developing social skills. Reading, writing, and math are only started in elementary school around age 6 to7.
So if you would like to embark on ‘simple and sane’ schooling with your student, here are some concrete ideas which have worked for us and countless other homeschooling families:
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons – We used this classic (which has sold over 1 million copies) to teach all three of our children to read. If you would like to start this with a younger child, you can divide the lessons into even shorter chunks of 10-min each. Keep in mind your child’s readiness for learning; it is better to offer a very brief lesson with a feeling of success and satisfaction, rather than pushing through and ending in frustration.
This clear, step-by-step, scripted program is very easy to follow and divided into 20 min. lessons. This is a perfect guide for parents who would like to teach their children how to read, but are note quite sure how to go about it. All you need to bring to this is a comfortable reading spot, love, care, patience, and 20 minutes a day. “Twenty minutes a day is all you need, and within 100 teaching days your child will be reading on a solid second-grade reading level. It’s a sensible, easy-to-follow, and enjoyable way to help your child gain the essential skills of reading. Everything you need is here—no paste, no scissors, no flash cards, no complicated directions—just you and your child learning together. One hundred lessons, fully illustrated and color-coded for clarity, give your child the basic and more advanced skills needed to become a good reader.”
Handwriting Without Tears Grade 1 / Handwriting Without Tears Grade 2 This writing curriculum does what it says – no tears here! We used this program for our kids and the instruction was very child-friendly. The instruction is clear and logical, the letters are instructed in a way that a child can easily remember, and there is not so much practice that children feel overwhelmed.
Right Start Math Games – When my daughter was around six years old, a friend asked me “Do you love doing math?”. My answer was “No, it ends in tears and frustration too often….”. She then told me about Right Start Math games and it changed the way we learned math and also how we felt about it! This games set is not a curriculum per se, but it contains 300 games that provide practice in learning the concepts and facts. It includes number sense, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, money, clocks, and fractions. This can be used with any math program or simply as a way of getting a solid foundation in mental math.
The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer Vol. 1 This is a perfect read-aloud for snack time – that is how we have used this history series for years (we have read it two or three times over by now).
If you would like to add some natural science into the mix, take one of these guides on your walks and learn to identify flowers, trees, and birds.