Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom
At the start of the new year many of you completed a survey for those of us who blog under the Simple Living Media umbrella. I admit to being rather surprised when I found out that a significant percentage of those who read this blog regularly are not actually homeschoolers.
Let me say it once and for all: Homeschooling or not, you are welcome here!
At its core, homeschooling is a lifestyle of intentionality when it comes to our kids’ educations. Being intentional doesn’t mean sending our kids to the school around the corner just because it’s around the corner. Being intentional also doesn’t mean homeschooling just because all your friends homeschool.
Intentionality means taking the time and effort necessary to give thought to what is best–for your children, yourself, and your family.
Maybe you went through that intentional process. Maybe the concept of homeschooling even intrigued you, but you ultimately decided it isn’t for your family at the present moment. Yet you’re always looking for ways to cultivate an atmosphere and a love of learning at home.
Did you know a new word has been invented to describe what you’re doing?
It’s called afterschooling. Here’s how to do it well.
1. Create the right environment.
It’s true that your child needs to decompress after school, but if that decompression only consists of plopping in front of the television you are missing a fabulous opportunity.
There’s no way around it–traditional schooling leaves you fewer hours in the day with your kids. In order to be intentional about both your child’s education and their relationship with you you’ll need to be strategic about what you fill those hours with.
This isn’t about implementing a structure for home learning; this is about cultivating a love of learning. It’s about filling your home with learning tools based around your child’s interests and passions. Books, good food, good conversation, well-chosen media–they can all work toward this goal.
Ask yourself this question about each activity and item filling your home and your days: Does this point my family toward or away from a love of learning?
2. Let free play reign.
If your child is in traditional school, their educational hours are highly structured–with significantly more “head” time than “heart” time in their day.
By understanding this, you can balance that extra mental focus. How? With the opposite of head time–free play.
Don’t fill your children’s after-school hours with back-to-back activities and lessons. Fill their after-school hours with freedom.
3. Model passionate living.
If your children spend most of their day at school, it may be easy to fit your interests, work, and other tasks into the time when they’re gone. That way, you reason, you can give them your full attention when they return.
But if they rarely see you doing what you love, will they really understand the concept of authentic, wholehearted living? Involve them in your work, your passions, your interests. Talk to them about how you’ve spent your day–just like you hope they will fill you in on the details of theirs.
4. Have a plan B in mind.
If the schooling choice you’re making currently wasn’t an option, what would you do instead? It could be that your educational plan works out wonderfully for years–all the way through graduation. But what if it doesn’t?
What if something inside tells you it’s time for a change? What if your own child asks for a change? Burnout isn’t just for grown-ups. Sometimes our kids show us signals of overload and it’s our job as parents to pay attention. (My first severe school burnout season happened in the 8th grade.) At times like these, it’s good to know that we have options, and to have decided ahead of time what those options are.
Being intentional about our children’s educations means being willing to pay attention–to not seek convenience but clarity, to not allow our hopes for higher grades to override our kids’ passion for learning.
Welcome to a lifestyle of intentional education–wherever your kids go to school.
Welcome to afterschooling.
Resources to inspire afterschoolers and homeschoolers alike:
- Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl
- Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House & Connect with Your Kids by Rebecca Cohen
- Imagine Childhood: Exploring the World Through Nature, Imagination, and Play by Sarah Olmsted
- Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne
How do you incorporate a love of learning into your child’s afterschool hours?