Kindergarten Homeschool in French: Beginning Writing & Reading

Completing a French activity page from Magnard's Grande Section (Kindergarten) workbook

We officially started homeschooling last week, though in a sense we've been homeschooling in a low-key way for years. My homeschooling style leans towards the philosophies of Charlotte Mason (emphasizing the outdoors & quality books), unschooling (seizing opportunities for learning from daily life & pursuing current interests), and Montessori (using natural materials and independent play for learning), but the Type A parent in me needs a basic morning schedule and some simple learning goals each day.

My five-year-old daughter is active and social, yet she also loves workbooks and writing. When looking for a handwriting curriculum for her, I was happy to find that the company Handwriting Without Tears publishes French versions of their handwriting workbooks (Spanish ones too!). The Kindergarten level book starts with capital letters, moves to digits (1-10), and ends with lowercase letters, with some simple French words to copy towards the end.

(The French teach cursive writing from the start, but for print awareness and reading purposes, I decided to help my daughter with printing first. The first book in Handwriting Without Tears focuses on printing. And if you're curious, HWT uses American-style digits, meaning they don't teach 1s with an upsweep or crossed 7s like French schools do. I plan to help my daughter move on to cursive with a French workbook after this HWT book. I'll let you know how it goes!)

I expected my daughter would complete one or two pages of HWT per day (ideally, while I prepare breakfast), so I was astonished and amused when she had finished more than twenty pages by the time breakfast was over on our first day of homeschooling! She took a break from it for the next two days, but I can see that she enjoys it and will move through it quickly even though we don't use it everyday. 

The French don't emphasize reading acquisition until the equivalent of first grade, and I've seen convincing reasons for not teaching reading too early. (See last year's post, Why I'm Not Teaching My Preschooler to Read (Yet). Nonetheless, my children spend a lot of time looking at books anyway, and while I don't want to push my daughter into early reading, I do want her to gain more exposure to phonics combinations and the beginning ideas of word decoding, and reading will come soon enough.

Now that she's interested in word play and is capable of some phonics blending, she and I do about ten to fifteen minutes worth of reading practice every other day or so, either creating simple words using these wood letters, or we'll read a bit from J'apprends à lire avec Sam et Julie. And in the evenings, she likes to sit with her dad and decode a few handfuls of English words from the Victory Drill Book. In the meantime, we read lots of books aloud to her in both languages (I always read in French; my husband reads in English). Reading words and stories is Charlotte Mason's preferred way to start teaching reading (over phonics sounds alone), and she enjoyed reading the first set of Bob Books, so I hope to find some simple beginning books in French soon.

Casual reading at home this month (in dress-up clothes)

What are your thoughts about teaching printing or cursive first? Do you have any beginning French book recommendations? What do you think is the most delightful way to learn to read?

Related post: Teaching Reading in French: Our Homeschooling Plan

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