Are you homeschooling kindergarten but don’t know where to start? We had an amazing year using Build Your Library. The Around the World Kindergarten curriculum (BYL K) provides plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning, exploration, great literature, and a lot of fun. Below you’ll find a full review created after we completed the program.
This is not a sponsored post. I’m not a BYL affiliate. This is just one homeschool momma to another, breaking it down.
We had a lot of success with Build Your Library Kindergarten. We loved the program and the book list, however, next time I will be making some changes. I wanted to share the highlights with you, and a little advice if you’re using or considering BYL K this year.
View the video below or watch on YouTube.
What originally drew me to Build Your Library was that it appeared to be a solid, literature based program for kindergarten, secular, flexible, and good value.
The program met all of our expectations.
One great aspect of BYL is the flexibility. It provides a structure for the year while leaving time and space to explore topics and activities that interest you and skip parts that do not.
The main science component of the program is animal studies. Emily provides suggestions and time for a topic, but the actual project is up to you. We found that my son enjoyed creating lapbooks. I showed three examples in the video, links below:
We also enjoyed the passport project. It was one of the first crafts from week 1. Don’t skip this one! Adding a sticker or stamp to the passport is the concluding activity for each continent. It provided a nice conclusion to one unit when we were ready to move on to the next.
My son and I both enjoyed the literature included in this curriculum. It is not a dumbed down list for little kids. It is excellent literature that would be appropriate for any elementary aged student.
When first starting the curriculum, one challenge I had was the length of chapter book reading. The North America unit was particularly challenging, especially reading the long chapters in Little House in the Big Woods. If you are experiencing the same kind of challenges, don’t be afraid to replace chapter books with picture books. Little House, for example, has a picture book series that goes right along with the main chapter book that we found more engaging and pleasurable.
My advice: Don’t by all the books! Go ahead and purchase the spines, but don’t buy every book on the list. Check out books from the library that interest you and your child.
Amount of Time and Work
The amount of time and work is the perfect amount for kindergarten. You can expect 20 minutes reading and about a half hour on a project or activities each day. You will not find hours of seat work or worksheets in this curriculum. Most of your time will be spent reading together followed by a few simple projects and crafts. How and if you expand upon those is up to you.
It can be challenging going it alone with a curriculum. One excellent aspect of this curriculum is that Emily has created Facebook groups available for every level. If you are starting around the same time as the traditional school year, in August, you will other homeschool families on the same unit at the same time. Use the search feature to find advice and guidance from parents who have completed the curriculum in prior years.
I wasn’t expecting how much we would be supplementing. You will need an additional phonics program, possibly more science – beyond animal studies, you also might want to supplement with extra projects inspired by your reading.
While this is a stand-alone Language Arts curriculum, I’m not sure that it is enough. There days that were particularly light – only 3 or 4 pages of a book and a conversation. If you are in a state that requires you to meet a certain number of hours or just want a fuller day of learning, you can expect to supplement this curriculum quite a bit. Finding additional material is not difficult. There are tons of Around the World resources free online – including on this site, which I’ve listed below.
Suggestions for Modifications
I was happy enough with this curriculum that I will be using it again with my two younger children. I’ll be modifying the schedule slightly next time. Perhaps these suggestions will help you plan your year, also.
Stand-Alone Continent Studies
The main thing I’m going to do differently – I will not complete 30 weeks in a row. Rather, I will be using each unit as a stand-alone continent study. Each of the seven units can stand alone as its own unit study. Each region has it’s own introduction and conclusion with the passport activity.
Modify Unit Order
Since there is not a lot of overlap and no prior knowledge needed as you progress through the year, I’ll also be changing the order of the units (after week one, which is an introduction to geography). I’ll be moving the more challenging North America unit toward and start with Africa or South America to the beginning because those units were the most engaging for my son.
Another thing to consider modifying the weekly schedule. What worked best for my son was to take the reading and activities from the five day schedule and complete them in 4 days. That was a good pace for him. You can really mold the schedule any way you choose. Completing our list in 4 days left us plenty of time for classes and park days but kept us moving through the curriculum at a steady pace.
The Best Part
My hands-down favorite part of this curriculum was eating our way around the world. When we first started this program, my kids only ate chicken nuggets and buttered noodles. As we went through the program, we tried all the different foods: North American BBQ, tacos from South/Central America, new types of fruit, Middle Eastern food, sushi, Korean BBQ, and other foods from all around the world. It has changed our family meal plan for the better! My kids have tried and enjoyed a huge variety of foods.
I’m excited to continue with BYL 1 in a few weeks. After completing the kindergarten curriculum, I really believe that this is a solid language arts program. It would be great for new homeschoolers, families with more than one elementary aged child, homeschoolers who are looking for stand-alone geography studies to supplement another curriculum, and everyone who enjoys eating good food!
I hope this helps you make a decision about this curriculum. If you do decide to use this program, check out the free Around the World resources and playlists I’ve gathered specifically to supplement and enrich this curriculum.
Around the World Resources
Related: Find your homeschool tribe in our post 100+ Places to find Homeschool Support Online.