I went entirely overboard during the first year of homeschooling. I thoroughly covered every subject during my daughter's kindergarten year. It was as if I was preparing my 5-year-old for NASA, and the whole country was counting on me.
Looking back, there are a few things I am happy that I did:
I gave my kids a lot of playtime and did arts and crafts almost daily.
I read to my kids a lot, and we did science projects a few times a week.
My daughter's favorite subject was math, so we spent most of our time there. I followed her pace, and she completed Math-U-See Zeta and Pre-Algebra while in kindergarten. I did the same with my son when he started kindergarten; like my daughter, he completed Math-U-See Zeta and Pre-Algebra.
I am glad I started my children in piano when they started kindergarten. I had planned to start my kids in music when they turned 5 because I wanted them to have a lifelong hobby. But I soon realized that music is more than a hobby. It teaches students self-discipline, creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and time management. I did not know it when my daughter was in kindergarten. However, the following year, I changed my whole perspective on homeschooling and focused only on those skills rather than school subjects, and music played a profound role in our homeschooling.
There are 2 big lessons that I learned, but it took me a while.
Always follow your child's pace and never think they must be on a certain level.
You can give each subject a different amount of attention. We spent at least 60% of our school day on math and music. That was what my kids liked, so that is where I put our attention.
Things I would have changed:
I would have only bought a math curriculum—everything else we did through reading and play. I wasted a lot of money on curriculum.
My kids spent a lot of time playing, and I look back now and wish I had given them even more playtime. I figured this out when my son was in kindergarten and my daughter in second grade. Starting that year and for the next four years, every Friday we would have school for only about one to two hours. After that, we would have a picnic at the park, and then the kids would spend the afternoon playing with their friends in the park. That was one of the best decisions I made homeschooling. I value those moments greatly.
Curriculums and books I like for early elementary:
Math-U-See: There are only 2 curriculums that I love and strongly suggest, and Math-U-See is one of them.
Concepts are introduced in a logical order
New concepts are explained in a simple way
Practice problems are on the right level
There are review problems
Evan Moor: I used this for Arts and Crafts
My kids always liked Evan Moor curriculum. They found it fun and were constantly engaged.
I didn't have to do any prep when I used Evan Moor
My kids liked these activities. They thought they were fun puzzles and riddles.