I am a blog ambassador for Sonlight because I love them so much.
Because of that, I have included some links to their great products in this post.
School has started in Arizona. (Sad!) Last year I homeschooled my younger boys. However this year because of circumstances, they are attending our local school. But I still LOVE teaching my kids. I believe that parents are their children’s first teachers, and I also believe that local schools need all the help they can get from deliberate parents. Since homeschooling isn’t in the cards this year, I plan to afterschool so I can still be involved in their education.
It won’t take up a ton of time, and it won’t need a lot of prep work (otherwise, I won’t get it done!) Since the time between school pickup and bedtime is pretty full, I won’t be doing a formal, sit down “let’s do more schoolwork” time. I would have a riot on my hands. But I’ve figured out natural ways to incorporate learning into our weekly schedule. Here’s what it will look like:
Seven ways to afterschool
1. Children’s Hour
I wrote about Children’s Hour here, but basically it’s family time before bed. No electronics, and we just hang out together. Usually I read aloud, we play a game, or the younger kids show us their latest and greatest tumbling tricks, or songs they’ve learned on the piano. We love it, it’s great.
But my secret weapon for this time together is Sonlight. Many of our favorite family books have come from here. It’s a homeschool curriculum company that provides living books as it’s primary material. (I love how natural and enjoyable this learning style is!) They also have excellent readers for kids, and books in history, math, science, art appreciation–they’ve got you covered! Sonlight also has awesome games or other learning aids that lend themselves to family time. And all the kids think we are doing is reading and playing games together! It’s awesome!
2. Enlist Older Siblings or Friends
Division of labor is a wonderful thing! Older kids are super cool to younger kids. Exploit this, and help your older children (or favorite babysitters or friends in the neighborhood) feel valued as they teach your younger children.
I have a teen daughter who is an aspiring author. She is the perfect fit to help my younger kids with their writing- and it sharpens her skills as well. I have asked her to help her nine year old brother write a story where he is the main character. He LOVES it. Dragons and sword fights are liberally sprinkled throughout the story. The only catch? He has to write it all down (or they can take turns) and it has to be spelled correctly. They have a lot of fun one-on-one time doing this.
3. Family Projects
We have decided we want to learn Spanish as a family and visit Mexico next summer. To do this, we are learning a certain number of words each week. We introduce them on Sundays, practice at meal times, and try to substitute words in every day conversation. Slowly but surely, we are getting there!
4. Car Trips
Audio books are the best. And so easy! Also, since you have a captive audience, car trips are a great time to go over math, spelling or grammar (bring a small white board with you). If you make it a game (hangman, speed contests…), so much the better!
Again, audio books are perfect for this! Additionally, this is a perfect time to introduce your children to classical music composers and their music. And if they fall asleep listening to it…well, that’s the point!
6. Field Trips
My children don’t have school on Fridays, which I love. Since I’m not naturally a “fun mom”, I”m going to try to do more family outings on Fridays. Hikes with nature studies, museums, or just exploring the towns around us will help teach science, history, and even navigation and geography.
7. Themed Days
If we don’t feel like going anywhere, we can do themed days on Fridays for just an hour or so. We can do a bunch of experiments or use building sets to make really cool stuff for “Science Day”. For “Art day”, we can use these art tutorial books to learn and practice art and make our own art gallery. (Mom and Dad’s art included!)
Sometimes though, (I’m not going to lie) I’m just plain tired. And I am totally ok with a snuggle and movie day. The Planet Earth documentaries are fascinating! The Kid Should See This is also an amazing resource. And remember those books we will be reading during Children’s Hour? I put together this Ultimate Book to Movie Guide for Families, so that we can watch a movie that was made from one of the classic books we read.
Afterschooling doesn’t need to be hard, and it doesn’t need to take up a ton of time. It’s just using the time you DO have, deliberately. I’ll keep you updated on what we do throughout the year, and I’d love to hear from you about how you do it, too!