How to homeschool without actually homeschooling

how to homeschool without actually homeschooling
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:

How do you incorporate a love of learning into your child’s afterschool hours?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.


  1. Hiya Jamie:
    You know I don’t homeschool but I love hanging out around here. My parents are taking the boys to Guatemala next month, and we’re starting a book about the Maya called THE WELL OF SACRIFICE to get their juices flowing. To help them process what they’re reading and learning, I’m having them work through an assignment I created during my teaching days called Where in the World are We Reading. I’m looking forward to it!

    By the way, I love that Jonathan is reading the Doctor Dolittle series. Please tell him I devoured every book when I was around his age. Happy reading, Martins!
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Quotes from The Selected Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, Volume II

  2. Marianne Parker says:

    We don’t homeschool either. Many of our homeschool friends call us hybrid homeschoolers. We are both engineers, my dad is a physicist, and my brother is a musician. We are active in Boy Scouts and two sports etc. But, like you suggest, we do alot of broadening their horizons. We talk about the physics of cheerleading, we talk about the physics of soccer, we talk about how many m&ms are on a pallet, etc. etc. Everything is life is an opportunity for exploration and conversation. :)!

    Just because my kids go to public school doesn’t mean that we don’t keep up with the learning at home!!

  3. Just because my kids go to public school doesn’t mean that we don’t keep up with the learning at home!!

    Preach it!
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: Quotes from The Selected Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, Volume II

  4. HelenaS says:

    Hi Jamie, I am one of the ones who doesn’t homeschool. I simply love your writing, I bought your book and have found immense peace (and courage) to strive to be the best mom I can be. It won’t all be Pinterest-worthy for sure, but I have made peace with that. So I really just wanted to say thank you for writing.

  5. Faigie says:

    I think many of us that read this blog who don’t home school either wish we could have or wish we had been homeschooled

    • Jamie Martin says:

      I wish I could have been myself, Faigie! Actually there were a few years between 8th and 10th grade when I begged my parents to let me be homeschooled, but it never worked out.

  6. Cori says:

    I’m one of the non-home schoolers who enjoys your blog! Life is always a learning opportunity! I look forward to summer break (four more days for us) when I get to spend time learning and exploring with my kids!
    Cori’s latest post: One More Time

  7. Mel says:

    I don not homeschool my kids (even though I am not ruling that out for the future, but right now we are very happy with our public school) and I am very grateful for my public school education (I went to a prestigious private university and I felt that my freshman year was easier than some of my high school years). I love reading your blog because it gives me great ideas of how we can learn and enjoy being together when we are home.

  8. Thanks for this post! I actually don’t even have children, let alone homeschool, but still enjoy reading! I have a background in education that I chose to not pursue as a career and instead stay at home and take care of my two year old nephew. While he is not in school yet I love using that time to take my background and implement it in how we spend time together. It is far from structured with the attention span of a two year old but I am often impressed and surprised how much he is learning things through playing. It is true, with the right toys and structure of a home, you can create an entire learning environment just by being there!

  9. Bethany Gillespie says:

    Jamie, thanks so much for this post! I have been reading for around 18 months, and I’m not a homeschooler. I have great, wonderful friends who are, and my husband was homeschooled. But in our little English village, we have a little Christian school of 60 children that is a wonderful place. He is in a mixed classroom, and one of the traits that we love is that the older children learn to look after the newer, little ones, and continue that cycle. It is a lovely community.
    But when Tsh talked about Afterschooling last year, it really put a word to how I see my role in his education. We take trips, go for walks, make a meal, play and have fun, and are always looking for learning. We are intentional about the rest of our time, but like you said, that doesn’t have to be more lessons.
    I love this community, and love that you welcome us too!

  10. jane g says:

    Im another non homeschooler of 3. My oldest will be doing independant studies this coming year for middle school. Ive enjoyed reading your blog and feel like its my job as a parent to reinforce what they are being taught or prepare them for the next year. I found on pintrest a saying……a child only educated at school is an uneducated child (george santayana) thanks for great post

  11. Lora says:

    Thank you for this-I keep erasing everything else I try to write, so I’ll just say, thanks.
    Parents ARE responsible for their children’s education, no matter where they attend school. It’s all about giving your child what he/she needs.
    Thank you as always for thoughtful, thought-provoking and sincere posts.

  12. Jessica says:

    I love this concept of afterschooling! I am a new mama of a 2 week old little girl so nowhere near the stage of schooling yet however I am very aware that I am her first teacher and take this responsibility seriously and want to be intentional about it! In the past I would not have considered myself capable of homeschooling however as my new family is prioritising intentional and simpler living, homeschooling is definitely something that we would now consider as a love or learning is a key value of ours. Thanks for making ‘intentional education’ open to us all through this blog!
    Jessica’s latest post: Behind the Name

  13. Rebecca says:

    I am another non homeschooler, and we do intend on sending our kids to a public or private school, but as others have said, we as parents are responsible for their education. Especially beyond the ‘books’. I follow your blog for my 3 and 4 year old, and actually have for two years now. We have had a ‘learning board’ in our kitchen/dining area for the last 18 months. I was doing a color, shape, number and letter of the week but now my 3 and 4 year old are bored with that so I have been seeking more advanced things for them. As parents it is frustrating for us to see how ‘late’ things seem to be taught, when our children are so eager to learn (and they can retain it so easily) When our kids take an interest in things we encourage it, field trips, books, hands on experiences…. It is blogs like yours that encourage us to continue our ‘after schooling’ and get us thinking outside the box too

  14. My husband and I are seriously considering and researching homeschooling at this time (we actually saw you at the Cincy conference last month!), and I think the question, “Does this point my family toward or away from a love for learning” is fantastic. Sadly, much of what my son encounters in school (including the homework I can hear him and my husband arguing over at this moment) seems to point him away from a love of learning. His weekdays are usually spent in school until he gets home around 4 and then he works on homework for 2-3 more hours until we have dinner and he goes to bed. There’s very little time for him to explore and nurture his interests and natural curiosity, which feels very wrong.
    Emily @ My Love for Words’s latest post: Permission to Quit

  15. Alison says:

    Our boy loves school (very gregarious) but we do lots of learning at home too. As a fellow adopter, I\’m finding I need to do things differently – lots of practice at home on some things that take him a long time to learn, but also creating chances to experience new things at a time when he\’s ready for them (rather than just when school offers it). I appreciate the welcome, and advice for us too!

  16. I adore the idea of after schooling. I also think it prepares students to continue learning throughout their lives… not because they have to but because they want to. Due to the fact of being taught to do so at such a young age.

  17. Sarah says:

    I also do not homeschool, but I am an elementary school teacher and I so appreciate your views on “after-schooling”. I believe in free public education, but I also appreciate that it can’t be everything for every child. It’s impossible. I accept the short-comings in what I do everyday, and that what I do just might not be the best fit for some kids. Home-schooling can be a wonderful option… more than just an alternative, but an option. “After-schooling” is yet another one, and I believe to be an important one. I check your site out for ideas to do with my class, ideas to do with my kids, and ideas to pass on to parents to do with their kids. I am glad and relieved to hear so many of your readers do not homeschool – in the sense that it perhaps means that parents recognize that public education and home schooling are not mutually exclusive, and are not two things a parent necessarily must “choose between” or “choose a side”. Hope that makes sense… and thank you for letting me share my thoughts.

  18. Cassie says:

    I am One of those that wishes to homeschool…as of now my only child is my stepson and because we aren’t the only ones that get to decide, he is in public school. I definitely would call our home an after schooling home, as of now. I know when we welcome more kids into our family I will be homeschooling. Any suggestions on how to encourage the love of learning while he’s away from home? I feel like he misses out on so much. I am new to your blog and loving it!

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