Literature-Based Learning for Kindergarten: How to Make it Work

Literature-Based Learning for Kindergarten: How to Make it Work homeschooling
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You’re homeschooling a kindergartener! Congratulations! You’ve heard about “literature-based learning” all over every homeschool website as you’ve scoured the internet for ideas on how to get started…but what does that look like in reality?

How can you make sure your wiggly, giggly kindergartener is really learning and retaining information as you read to them? How can you feel confident in this approach to education?

It’s completely normal to have some doubt in the literature-based learning process when you’re in the middle of chapter 7 of The Trumpet of the Swan and your kindergartener interrupts to ask whether you think a Tyrannosaurus rex could win a fight with a Spinosaurus. 

You would be well justified in asking: “How is this ever going to work if my kindergartener is daydreaming about dinosaurs instead of paying attention to the predicament of Louis the trumpeter swan?”

Learning to thrive with a literature-based approach to learning is something that requires practice from both teacher and student. As you both continue to practice, your child’s attention span and ability to learn from listening to good books will grow, along with your own ability to recognize when they have tuned out your voice.

Don’t miss the rest of this stellar guest post by Rachel Guerrero!

Literature-Based Learning for Kindergarten homeschooling

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Practical Strategies for Literature-Based Homeschooling

Here are some practical strategies to help make the most of read-aloud time as you and your kindergartener dip your toes into the world of literature-based homeschooling:

Don’t rush!

The goal is not to “finish” and check “storytime” off the day’s schedule as quickly as possible so that you can move onto other, more important things. Storytime itself is of immense importance. The goal is for you and your child to experience reading the book in such a way that they can engage with the content and remember what they’ve learned. Engaging with content takes more time than simply reading through without stopping. With a kindergartener, it’s helpful to stop readings periodically and chat to find out how well they are understanding the story.

Do invite your child to get up close to the book.

Your kindergartener may or may not still be able to snuggle in your lap while you read aloud, but even if they’re beyond the lap-snuggling stage, it’s best to have them close by while you read to them. Invite your child to look at the illustrations and notice interesting details. Allowing your child to watch you read and to follow your finger along on the page can help a kindergartener’s own literacy skills to grow by building awareness of what reading text looks like.

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Don’t put the book down as soon as you finish reading.

So much learning happens through verbally processing a story together. The physical act of putting the book down can signal the “end” of the story session. Try holding the book open for a minute or two as you chat with your child about what you just read. See if this helps with signaling openness to discussing the book’s ideas.

Do re-read the same books

Young children have a different need for and a different experience with repetition than many adults do. As an adult, you might be inclined to think, “We’ve already read that book, let’s read a new one.” Young children, however, benefit immensely from hearing repeat readings of the same book. Sometimes the very first reading of a book is almost too stressful–they can barely focus on what’s happening in the story because they can’t wait to find out what happens next. A repeat reading takes away from that initial stress and allows the child to relax and gain a better understanding of the text.

Do encourage discussing read alouds with others.

There’s a reason why book clubs have lasting appeal: talking about what we read is powerful. It’s likely that not everyone in your family is present for read-aloud time, but you can make it a habit to talk about what you’re currently reading in school and to share those stories with other members of the family. Maybe this looks like a habit of telling Dad about the stories you read today over dinner, or telling Grandma about your favorite school books when you visit her house on the weekend. You might even be delighted to find your child hanging upside down on the monkey bars at the park telling his new best friend (that he just met) all about Charlotte and her plan to save Wilbur’s life. When you do happen to overhear these moments, you can give yourself a mental high five and celebrate–because you’re seeing the impact of the feast of stories that you faithfully offer your child.

Don’t be discouraged if it takes you and your child a little while to find your groove with literature-based learning. Will you feel demoralized if, the first time you ask your child to tell you back the story you just read, they respond with, “Ummm…I don’t know? Something about a horse?” Yes, yes you will. Particularly when the story was about a goat and there weren’t even any horses present. You’ll question everything at that moment. But you will pick yourself up, learn from the experience, and both you and your child will grow together in the skill of teaching from and learning from literature.

How do you know what to read to your homeschool kindergartener?

How do you know what to read to your kindergartener? There are a number of delightful literature-based kindergarten curriculums available. Begin by looking at curriculum reviews and perusing the booklists in the curriculum you’re interested in. This research will help you find one that will suit your own home and your own needs best.

literature based homeschool kindergarten curriculum The Curious Kinder

The Curious Kinder Literature Based Homeschool Curriculum

I have created The Curious Kinder, a literature-based learning plan designed to help “hold your hand” when you’re embarking on the adventure of a year of growing and learning with your curious kindergartener.

This curriculum includes a Parent Guide with weekly scheduled readings and teaching notes that help give you a framework to guide productive discussions about the books you read.

There’s also a Student Book with simple and fun activity pages that connect to each book you read, allowing your child to interact with great literature in their own unique way.

You can find a 2-week free sample on the website to help you get an idea for what this curriculum looks like, or, for those who prefer video content, you can find a detailed video flip-through of this curriculum here.

Rachel Guerrero is a second-generation homeschool mom with 3 sons. She brings a practical, joyful, & nerdy approach to homeschooling in all of the content she creates. You can follow her homeschool journey on her Youtube channel, Seven in All, and can find the curriculum that she creates on her website, Where’d You Learn That? Homeschool.

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