Classical afterschooling (Curriculum Fair 2012)

Written by Tsh Oxenreider of Simple Mom.

Ages of my children: 7, 4, & almost 2
Educational philosophies I pull from: Classical, Interest-Led Learning

A few weeks ago, I spent the weekend visiting Peace Hill Press and its founder, Susan Wise Bauer. Known for fostering a modern-day movement of the classical method of teaching, she is someone I’ve long admired. It was an honor to meet her.

So it might surprise you to hear that we’re not homeschooling next year. Oh, well, of course we are in the organic, basic rudimentary definition of the word—I hold the belief that education always begins at home, whether or not families are aware. But formally, we are taking a step of faith and enrolling our kids in a local private school.

This was a tough, tough decision, and most of my closer friends and family know that we wrestled with this decision most of the spring semester. But in the end, we feel a strong peace that this is our learning path next year, and we’re excited.

So why am I participating in the curriculum fair here, you might be asking? Well, because we’re going to try out something that I learned about this past spring, and it’s one of the things that released me from the disappointment in not homeschooling next year.

It’s called afterschooling.

Afterschooling: What is it?

It’s almost silly that this even needs a name, in many ways, but afterschooling is simply homeschool, after school. It can look a lot of ways, just like homeschooling. I’ve jokingly come to call it Homeschool Lite.

Increasing in popularity, many families choose to do afterschooling in order to go deeper in an area a student’s school isn’t able, to cover a topic that’s completely ignored at school, or to foster more interest-led learning. I learned a great deal about afterschooling at Teaching My Baby to Read, and the Well Trained Mind forums also has a forum just for afterschooling.

As we considered the possibility of afterschooling, one of our highest criteria was finding a school with a low homework policy. After all, kids need tons of play (where some of the best learning happens!), and I have no intention of bogging down our kids with more than is necessary.

We’re going to try it out this next year, and if it ends up being too much, we’ll slow down. We might even shelve the idea for awhile and pick it back up later. Or we may stop doing the private school and return to only homeschooling.

Our afterschool plan

We’re going to ease into it, and we may not even do afterschooling every week. But these will be our resources.

1. First Language Lessons

I really do love everything from Peace Hill Press, and their grammar curriculum is at the top of their game. We’ll continue doing First Language Lessons, since it worked so well for us this past year. I’m guessing we’ll do one to two lessons a week, tops.

2. The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

Our 7-year-old learned to read using this curriculum when she was four, and we didn’t even need to finish it—it just clicked for her. I have a hunch it won’t be the same for her 4-year-old brother, but he’s showing eagerness to learn. We’ll pull out our Ordinary Parent’s Guide this summer and ease into phonics, slowly.

3. Story of the World

Of course, right? We love this history curriculum, especially the mp3 version. We just listen to Story of the World in the car, talk about it a lot, and pursue the activities and further research if the kids are interested. Tate begs to listen to SOTW, so it’s fun for her.

4. History sentences (and songs) from Classical Conversations

We participated in CC this past year, and we loved the 24 history sentences, easily learned by song. I’m blown away by how much history our entire family memorized. We’re not participating in our local chapter next year, but I’ll still order next year’s CDs and play those in the car as well.

5. Geography maps and memory work from Classical Conversations

My first-grader also learned an enormous amount of geography, and she loved it. We’ll keep on with the CC map tracing, memory work, and exploration of cultures and places as the interest arises.

I also love Writing With Ease and Telling God’s Story from PHP, and we’ll also incorporate these if it works out.

I know I’ll miss the longer hours of homeschooling next year. But we’re very much a year-at-a-time, kid-at-a-time family—I don’t for a second doubt that we’ll homeschool again. It might not be the best fit for our family next year, but that doesn’t mean that’ll always be the case.

Have you ever tried afterschooling? What was it like for you?

(Peace Hill Press gave me complimentary curricula for review.)

About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of The Art of Simple and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and she believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.


  1. Looks like you have a lot of great resources for your afterschool.
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  2. This is what we do (without a formal curriculum). My friends that homeschool call me a hybrid homeschooler. They can’t believe how much out of school thinking we do. They like to put it away at the end of their “day.” I like having someone else do the grunt work of school, and I get to do all the fun enrichment stuff. :)!

    Good luck!!


  3. Thanks for this post it has really helped me. I don’t homeschool although so much of the way of life appeals to me, we are lucky enough to live near a school which follows so many homeschool type principles. I have met many home schoolers who wouldn’t home school if they had access to my daughters school opps went off the point there.
    I am constantly amazed by how much “schooling” gets done in the holidays, and out of school mainly child led. It is a way of life which works well for us right now however I may dip my toe in the waters of homeschooling in the future as she grows out of this school. Like you it is right for now. Many blessings on your journey, enjoy.

  4. AnnMarie says:

    We after-schooled this year and are now pulling out from public school to homeschool full-time. We read SOTW, taught First Language Lessons and my 7 year old fixated on Egypt which led us to many experiments, a fieldtrip to Houston museum of Arts for the Tutankhamen exhibit, and many non-fiction books from the library. Our public school required too much homework after the 2Nd month of school so we had to back off but it was a great experience and was the stepping stone to full-time homeschooling for us. Best wishes for your family.

  5. We’ve been having the same hard conversations around here. For right now we’re sticking with homeschooling for a number of reasons, but I’m thankful to see how other families make these decisions.
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    • It’s tricky, doing this whole business-running and homeschooling thing, isn’t it? I know many can do it, and we plan to do it, again. It’s in our blood, we can’t not. But…. We’re going to use this year to catch up. We’ll see what happens. :)

  6. I homeschool my son but my daughter goes to school. When she started, age 9, I told myself “things don’t have to change, we can still do stuff after school” but it just never happened. I collect her at 3.15 (4.15 if she has after school activities) and by the time we’ve had a drink and snack it’s time for me to start cooking dinner. I’d like to know how others manage it, there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day! Good luck Tsh, I hope it works for you guys. Please do another post next year on “Tips for Afterschooling”!

  7. Thanks for this post! I’ve been joking that homeschooling got a whole lot easier since I enrolled my kindergartener into our local school, but I really do still feel like a homeschooler. I’m excited for summer and you’ve just given me the idea to try to figure out how to incorporate a foreign language into our lives.

  8. During a season of burnout we tried “afterschooling” with two of our children that we placed in school while my other two were at home continuing to be homeschooled. Honestly, it’s tough. The kids are just plain old TIRED when they have been gone all day and their brains are needing to simply decompress and just be. We still did “field trips” of sorts on the weekends because we are a family that believes in a lifestyle of learning all the time, but as far as really being able to pursue those two kids’ interests and do more than what the school did just wasn’t possible. And in the summers it takes them a while to “deschool” and learn to pursue their passions again. It’s fabulous in theory, but the practical working out is very difficult. After 2 years those two children came back home to homeschool again and all’s fine.
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    • Heather says:

      You have a very valid point here, Aimee, and I am not sure it is fair to have a child spend the whole day away at school and then come home and do school all over again so that mommy feels like homeschooler. Not to mention the child will have PLENTY of homework from regular school. Gosh I know this comment sounds negative, but it seems very unfair to put a child in that situation. If you want control over the curriculum you have to homeschool. Or head the board of education at your school. You choose.

    • I totally get the tired-after-school thing, and it’s one of my main hesitations. But when I’m saying homeschool lite, I really mean lite. As in, listening to stuff in the car, chatting as we prep dinner, etc.

      It looks like we may have blown Teaching My Baby To Read’s server, but when that link works again, she’s got some really great resources. She points that all in all, afterschooling can take like 1-2 hours a week.

      Thanks for your $.02!

      • Jennifer B says:

        We’ve been “after schooling” all the way through. My daughter is finishing up 5th grade right now and we didn’t even consider what we were doing “schooling” – it’s just leading our lives.

        We follow our passions in our free time. So we are teaching our daughter to follow her passions in her free time too. Reading the Rick Riordan on the Greek gods led to an interest in ancient Greece and a vacation there last year. A unit in school on Egypt and the other Rick Riordan series on the Egyptian gods led to the King Tut exhibit and other books on Ancient Egypt. A current unit in school on Colonial America has led to movies watched, books read and stories told at home, and cooking colonial era recipes at home. We still read books aloud as a family, look things up on the internet when there is a question, and generally encourage inquisitiveness and learning for the love of learning.

        It all ties in, and none of it has to be formal “schooling”.

        One note – I saw no math in your plan. In my experience math curriculum at schools can still be lacking in the basics. Many of the current textbooks used de-emphasize the memorization of math facts, and in my opinion that’s the basis of higher math learning in elementary school. Make sure you leave time for games and activities that use math to make adding, subtracting, multiplication and division second nature.

  9. thank you for this post!

  10. As a homeschooling mom of 7, now ranging in age from 8 to 24, and a former post secondary teacher I’d like to comment on your post. What you have planned for afterschooling is more than a full homeschool load for your child. I believe she is only 7. I’m not sure of your reasons for sending her to private school next year but if you don’t feel your are providing enough, I can tell you that you are providing more in your afterschool that most people do for the full homeschool education of a 7 year old (except maybe math). Be careful not to burn your or your child out!
    I know you have a classical bent, which I do as well – have you read “Teaching the Trivium” by the Bluedorns? They have some great summaries such as “Ten Things to Do Before Ten” etc. Check out their website and good luck on your next year!

    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks for your words. Honestly, this may look like more than it is… We did more than this for homeschooling this past year, so I wouldn’t say this is more than a full homeschool load for my daughter. Each kid is different, as you know. We also did math, science, cursive, and history, and except for math, my daughter wasn’t challenged enough.

      Yes, I’ll be very aware with the burnout thing, and it’s the last thing I want. In fact, part of our reason for doing school next year is to prevent burnout. As I mentioned to another commenter above, we’re really taking a laid-back approach to this. SOTW and CC will just be listening in the car, and grammar and geography will be chatting as it arises, quite possibly as we do other things at home (cooking, talking about the news, etc.).

      For my daughter, this really isn’t too much. Thanks for your input, and thanks for the book recommendation! :)

      • Tsh.
        What you shared right here helped round out your post beautifully in my opinion. From the post itself I imagined you picking your daughter up from school, having a snack and then hitting the books round-two. As you explain things here it makes much more sense – fluidity at its finest. I’m excited to check out the Classical Conversation CDs. We don’t have this program in our area unfortunately so this could be a fabulous way to integrate some of their ideas.

        Best wishes in your new venture in the fall. I would LOVE to read a post from you that speaks more to the why behind your decision to transition back to school. I think so many people may grit it out in one arena or the other because of fears, insecurities or a combination thereof. How great to be able to hear from those who turn channels – I would imagine it would give many others the courage to step out themselves.

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  11. This sounds so lovely, Tsh! :) We homeschooled our oldest for Kindergarten and when our 3rd baby was due to be born, we decided to enroll her in a local Waldorf school for 1st grade. Now she is in 2nd grade, her sister is in K at the Waldorf school and I have a soon-to-be 2 year old at home with me. Afterschooling was my intention, but when I pick them up at 3:00, they are exhausted and usually grumpy. When we get home it’s snack-time and they immediately want to run outside to play (which is great!) and I go between chatting with them about their day at school to making dinner. Then it’s time for my husband to come home around 4:45/5 and then dinner, bath and bed. The only “afterschooling” that happens is before bed when we read stories out loud and/or our 2nd grader reads out loud to her younger siblings (usually a little bit of both). During holiday breaks or weekends there is a lot more interest-led learning that happens, though. We’re diving back into homeschooling next year after doing school for 2 years. We’re excited and hope to stick with it for at least 2 to 3 years, hopefully longer! :) Both homeschool and school have been good experiences! Best wishes with school and afterschooling! :)

    • I’m in a similar predicament–my kids are tired after a highly structured day at school.

      Family field trips on the weekends and more open summers are better opportunities for us to afterschool.

    • I think, in some ways, that the word “afterschooling” is misleading, because it doesn’t technically have to be only after school. Weekends and summers are a great time for stuff like this! The link in the post to Teaching My Baby to Read gives great examples of different ways you can block out the time for this. The writer does about three hours a week during the summers only (I think; the link isn’t working right now). That’s still considered afterschooling.

  12. We don’t have any experience with this, but I love to see people doing things outside the box. I also appreciate the approach of taking it year by year. That is what we have decided to do as well…one never knows what is around the corner so it is always good to reevaluate and decide what is good for the family right now.
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  13. Thanks for the shout out! I look forward to reading how your year turns out.

  14. I just wanted to tell you that your last blog post, where you said (along the lines of) “Being homeschoolers doesn’t mean you can’t outsource parts of it” brought me to tears, and made me realize that my All-or-Nothing! mentality was going to kill me. Or at least make me a resentful, burnt-out mama.

    So, we’re starting slow, with a two-day a week summer camp at a Waldorf school, and then if things go well, I’ll enroll them for a couple days a week during the fall. And I have such relief and peace about this decision! I’m so excited!!

    Bend has such fantastic school options. I feel really blessed to be here!

  15. I often describe our family as Wald0rf-inspired unschoolers who supplement with public school.

    We do a lot of informal afterschooling in our family. (My husband is doing science experiments with the kids right now!) And we also take a few days off from school here and there for family field trips and other fun!

    Really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you.

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    • Awesome to hear! I love hearing that there are more and more afterschoolers around than I ever knew about. :)

  16. Nice post. I loved this post because I see the same struggles and decisions that our family has come to this past semester.
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  17. I was looking for a cursive writing program for my daughter for the summer because Georgia state curriculum no longer teaches it. While I was at it I was going to work on her spelling. Just yesterday I came across the “afterschooling” idea. I think most parents suplement their kids education. Swimming lessons, tutoring in a hard subject,trips to the zoo, even teaching them to pick up their clothes and brush their teeth everyday. It’s just a difference in level of intensity. As parents we are responsible for our kids education not the school. And schools cannot teach our kids everything they need to know in life. So if you teach them
    knowingly and intentionally or not you still supplement their schooling.

  18. Wow! Great timing on this post for me! We have decided to move our daughter from a private school to public next year. I’m really hesitant and have really low expectations but there are several reasons for the move (we are new to town and need to make neighborhood connections that we aren’t making in the private school, the private school teaches “reformed math” and other reasons). I’m already planning my “after schooling” for this summer and next year. I understand some of the comments about kids being tired it not being fair to them to demand more school on top of a full day BUT I think it is more of a lifestyle and a philosophy than “ok kids come in from playing now and have some more school with mom”. It is reading really great literature together as a family and listening to history come to life through cds and books. It is seeing where school stops short and filling in gaps. It is noticing that your child is really interested in xyz and helping them learn and research and make a project of some sort (art, stories, anything) based on that. We learn as a family constantly – memorizing scripture, poems, reading great books together, pulling out the learning bit in everything we do (the kids don’t feel like we are at school they just feel like we are living!!). I’m with you Tsh. We are going to take it one year at a time and one kid at a time and see what works. We’ve started doing Confessions of a Homeschooler’s literature lap books after school and my daughter loves them. We will be doing some of her geography units this summer. Thanks for your tips too! Good luck!

    • Exactly! The science experiments, the literature we read together is just a normal part of our day. My daughter doesn’t recognize it as “school”. She was even the one who asked to be taught cursive writing.

  19. I really enjoyed your post, Tsh. My older boys are/will be in public school next year. So far, I can only say we’ve had a great experience. I would like to do some afterschool stuff (chilled out, child-led). We read good books and talk a lot about anything that comes up. Do you think I could pick up some CC CD’s and just do it independently? I’m also hoping to do some family typing work over the summer – we could all be better: ) Any recommendations?
    Thanks again!

  20. Interesting. I hope to see more posts on afterschooling. I don’t homeschool but I frequent a lot of home school sites/blogs because I find them inspiring and they give me ideas for activites to do with my kids. I think some people are getting the wrong impression of what “afterschooling” means. I suppose it can mean different things to different people but to me, it just means being intentional in my interactions with my children. It means curling up with them on the couch and reading a good book or buying board games that are educational as well as fun. It can mean taking them to the aquarium on the weekend or renting a good documentary to watch as a family.

  21. We have been “afterschooling” this year with our oldest and next year all three of our kids will be doing the same. Thanks for this post, it is refreshing to know that I am not alone in this crazy new schedule we have! One year at a time and one kid at a time is totally our strategy, so thanks for encouraging me today in where we are at.

  22. We never used the word “afterschooling” – but this is exactly what my parents did with us growing up, and the mentality I plan to brin to my kid(s) education. It’s nice to have a name for it. :)
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  23. I also believe that “afterschooling” doesn’t have to be formal, but rather developing an intentional, life-long love of learning in practical ways for our children. There are many times throughout each day that are learning lessons. In additional to teaching values and faith – we discuss goal setting, budgeting, homemaking, etc. with each of our kids (keeping in mind age appropriate conversations – my kids are 18, 5, 4, and 2 months). My husband and 18 yo son will often have discussion about math, science, or history during dinner or while we are driving (more in-depth, advanced topics of “practicals” or “theories” not just textbook homework). Younger kids learn great through intentional playtime – and they don’t even think of it as “school”.

    For your oldest child especially, have you also considered any extra-curricular activities she may be interested in? ie. music, singing, sports (soccer, softball, etc.), dance classes, swim lessons, etc. It’s great she has a love for learning, but I feel it’s important to develop a well-rounded child with a variety of interests.
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  24. Afterschooling is a new term to me, but a neat concept. I taught school before I had kidlets, and it is absolutely possible to have a nearly homework free school. Our school permitted 15 minutes of homework three times per week for 1-3 grade, and up to 30 minutes per day for grades 4 – 6.
    Now that I have a house full of homeschoolers we let them take online classes in areas of interest after school (our state provides the program free of charge). My sons are currently taking Digital Arts and Mandarin. I’m wondering if online classical courses are available that would utilize computer time. . .
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  25. I’m another reader who is encouraged by your schooling philosophy! Our two daughters were in a Christian school for the first few years, but we homeschooled this year and plan to do so next year, possibly returning them to school the following year.

    I never initially saw myself as a homeschooler, but we have had a fabulous year together! “Regular” school was a good experience, too, but we just felt the Lord leading us to homeschool for this season.

    Even when our girls were in school, I used the summer to pursue their interests and delve deeper into subjects that weren’t fully developed during the school year. We’re doing the same thing this summer, and I always enjoy planning ahead for what we’ll learn together.
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  26. I don’t have a horse in this race (my son is not even two and I haven’t really thought about school yet), but I just want to say that I think it’s really, really awesome that you are not too proud to change your mind on something.

    I know that people can be… judgmental about schooling decisions (like most of parenting decisions) and say things like, “If you *really* cared about your child’s education, you’d do X.” But thank goodness there is not one size fits all! Have you ever read the book “Love in a Time of Homeschooling?” I adored the author’s approach to the issue – very similar to yours and very down-to-earth, even talking about times when her year of homeschooling her daughter wasn’t good for their relationship.

    I think it’s a fantastic example for Tate and for young moms like me that you are doing what is best for your family, regardless of what others have to say about it.

    Thanks, Tsh!
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  27. Jennifer says:

    Thank you soooooo much for this post. Its great to read something like this – I never considered what I did with my kids as anything other than “normal” – kinda cool to have a ‘name’ for it!

    We live in Australia (I’m from the US, married an Aussie). My kids are in private school down here, Kindy (equivalent to US Pre-school) and 1st grade. They are both incredibly keen learners, so we do soooo much for fun after school – USA Bingo, lots of arts and crafts, Spanish, etc. My 4-year-old begs me for homework to work on whilst his sister is doing hers, so I’ve been working through a number-writing workbook I have and then we’re moving on to “Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons”.

    I can’t wait to go through the resource links you’ve put in your post. Thanks!

  28. Well I have officially bookmarked this one! My girl is 18 months old and we are looking into a private schools vs public vs homeschool…. I think I might love this “homeschool lite” idea! Great info, I’m going to look into your suggestions. THANK YOU
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  29. We keep it fairly simple: multiplication by rote and cursive/printing.

    We just started a new school that we absolutely love. Because of it’s incredibly high ESL population, teaching cursive is not a priority for this school and I totally understand: when a portion of your students don’t understand any English at all because last month they lived on another continent, teaching them how to scribe in pretty, loopy letters is the least important lesson! But, my 9yo has ADHD and has a lot of difficulty scribing and we’d heard that cursive can really help. We also recently discovered that math isn’t taught the same way it was when we were kids, include the memorization of the times tables! So, we teach those at home.

    Our JK age son does printing practice.

    We don’t sit down every day: there are sometimes playdates or errands that take precedence, but the boys are happy to sit down for short – 15 mins, max – lessons and worksheets. I find it, combined with a snack, makes a nice way to transition and cool down before free play time.
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  30. i had no idea there was a formal name for this! next year we are doing a hybrid charter (2 days at school, 3 days homeschool), but i worry that in two years when the girls are ready to start, it might prove too much for me. our life is sorta unpredictable and i never really know what jill’s needs will be by then and the thought of having them all do/go something different seems wrong…so i’ve always just planned on (if need be) doing traditional school and supplementing at home. good to know that it’s an actual thing! :)
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  31. I read this and became very stressed out. I live in Texas where legislation thinks that a test you take in April is the be all end all, so that is what gets speed taught too our children throughout the school year. I use the summer as a time to teach my girls other things. Good Luck!

  32. I am curious to know how you find a school with low homework requirements. That’s really my biggest problem with my years of homeschool vs. traditional setting schools. My kids understood more, had a better grasp of sooo many things and it didn’t take 6 hours a day and THEN homework. Sometimes, we are on the homework from the moment they get home until bed, interrupted by dinner, and then finishing in the morning. It’s awful. I want them out in the fresh air and sunshine.

  33. Love this post! Very timely for us as well. I have home schooled my daughter k through this second grade year. She has Apraxia of speech and sensory stuff, besides her wanting to be at school, she needs some specialized services. It took me quite awhile to find the right placement for her.Homeschooling has added to her high self esteem despite her challenges, so it was most important to find her the right class/ school. We started this May to do a trial run for fall placement. She is loving it! So our journey into after schooling has begun! Funny, I too called it homeschool lite! The second week she wanted to share with her class the science we had done at home. Classifying all our farm animals different scat! They got a dose of us then:) We also put together a garden for her class already.The teachers are very open to our homeschooly ways and said homework from them could be optional..yeah!Good Luck, it will be great!

  34. I love love LOVE the idea of afterschooling. I homeschooled my son for kindergarten (my daughter, age 3 at the time, picked up many of his lessons as well). When we moved to a different state, we discovered a public Montessori school just down the street from us. It was a fairly easy transition to make from homeschooling and now both children are thriving in it. However, one of the things I love the most about it (besides the Montessori method) is that it starts early (7:45) and gets out early (2:15). This means we have plenty of time to play and explore after school. We are having fun exploring our new city and doing lots of interest-led activities during this time. I’m actually looking forward to summer — the kids asked if we could have mini-homeschool time! :)
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  35. Jennifer says:

    I never knew there was an official name for this. My son will start PreK in the fall. And my husband and I have always planned to supplement his education in the evenings and on the weekends (holidays, summers, etc) with “field trips” and extra help.

  36. We have a very low-key after school idea at our house. We do “Science Friday” where I find fun age appropriate science experiments since some of the hands on learning in science at school seems lacking. And should plans come up, we don’t necessarily say no because we have after school learning. It’s flexible, fun and NO pressure.
    The Internet has great resources to everyday activities into fun learning opportunities. Turn watering your summer garden into a learning lesson for your kids for example. We examine roots, think about erosion control… – and they are only in first grade! I try to learn the Spanish words for what we are talking about and teach them those as well.*
    *I do see a more formal after school spanish “class” in my future – the kids love it!

  37. As a mom of 4 (ages 13, 10, 9, and 2), I feel like I have done it all. Homeschooling, public schooling, and afterschooling. I think afterschooling just becomes a natural extension if you go to public/private school after homeschooling. It was just natural for me to pull out an old workbook or expand on topics taught in school (simple machines and Egypt).
    I became sick and my hand was forced at the time to put our daughter back in school and last night when she graduated from 8th grade, tears fell, and I was thankful. Thankful to have had the experience of homeschooling and the freedom to put my daughter back in school when needed. If there is one nugget to take away it is this – God can use us as parents to teach our children whether it be full time homeschooling or afterschooling. And even more importantly, God can use our children too.
    Sorry for the novel, I just want you to know that God can bless you and your family no matter what educational route you take. Just let go of the hesitation and guilt, and enjoy as much as possible.

  38. Michele says:

    I’ve homeschooled my 2 boys for 7 years. I’ve engaged in many conversations reagarding the various schooling options. We have always said that we are open to whatever possibilities are out there bc there is never 1 right way of schooling–otherwise the Bible would have laid out a specific plan (there are days I wish I had that specific of a plan so that I wouldn’t have to choose)! What it all boils down to is being intentional with your kids…as parents, as teachers, as role models, etc. Whether your kids are in public, private, charter, part-time, university-model, homeschool, afterschool, etc…it’s all about following through with your priorities and being intentional with your time with your kids. When talking to others, I certainly highly suggest homeschool (maybe bc it’s what I’m doing and when someone else does what I do, it confirms that I’m making the right choice and gives me encouragement to keep going–certainly not the purest of motivations). However, I have seen every type of schooling work *well* for families. It’s better to be intentional and involved with whatever schooling choice the parents make, rather than the parents walking away with a feeling of guilt and failure bc they couldn’t keep up with the Jones’.
    Lastly, we are constantly moving. We have learned that being flexible is a key-factor–what works one year, doesn’t necessarily work the next. For a variety of factors things cannot work. However, I always question: Did it not work bc of my lack of follow-thru? What are my intentions? Am I willing to sacrifice and follow-thru with my intentions? And sometimes I end up changing my priorities. In the end it’s a learning experience for me…learning about my selfishness, my character, and my need for God to intervene in my daily life in order for priorities to become a reality.

  39. At one public school, I got permission to do our after schooling instead of the assigned homework packets then we were fortunate to get into a charter school with very little homework that allows for family learning. Winter season with holidays and lots of rain that makes playing outside less likely as well as a simple swim schedule that allows for more family learning than fall and spring. We do homeschooling over the summer.
    Science is a favorite and art, reading, and history. I am thinking of trying to add grammar…

  40. I have been homeschooling for the past 18 years and I have actually used a curriculum from Christian Liberty Academy. It is more of a “traditional” school approach. So in many ways, I’m being “unconventional” :)
    I think there is a missing component to most of what I am seeing here and that is prayer. We pray each year and seek what the Lord has for us. I believe is vital. Each family should have a vision for where it is going based on what they think the Lord is leading them to do.
    I know that we have hit our target…my oldest daughter graduated from an engineering school with a dual degree in Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering. Her desire was to eventually do some missions work that would use her skills and knowledge to help to serve others. Not only did she succeed with her education, but her heart and character have been developed and that is the heart of why we homeschool.
    My second oldest daughter also graduated from a well-established college with a dual degree in Computing and Human factors (the psychology of how we interact with computers). She is married to a Computer Systems and Web designer. They too have a desire to work in missions.
    My third daughter is currently in a local community college and was on the President’s list….all of this to say, it is not really about your educational approach. Love for the Lord and Character development…a heart for others is what you want to focus in on.
    We have homeschooled all of our children from K-12th grade (I still have 3 children at home).
    All of my children love to research topics and love to read. We have provided the resources and they choose to do what they are interested in, but this is apart from our regular school plan. CD’s and tapes are great for them to listen to, but they do that on their own. So if you want to pursue something during the Summer, provide resources, but don’t do something “formal”. My younger children actually “play school” with their dolls. :)
    My last thought, as a Mom, I need a break from any kind of “teaching”. I actually have a vision for using my own gifts and talents and Summer is the time that I get to do that. I want to learn, grow and produce what I was given to do as well. My life is not centered on education as much as on growing and maturing. I do believe that being refreshed makes me a better wife, mother and teacher. These comments are not in any way being shared to criticize the path which you feel you are directed to, but as another perspective. Blessings! :)
    Karen’s latest post: KateXpressions Creating…new designs…

  41. Kimberly says:

    Thank you for this post. We are putting our girls (K and 2nd grade) into a small private school in the fall, after homeschooling this year. Last year I did quite a bit of homeschooling during the summer, since I have fewer outside commitments then. Both girls are on easily on track with the basics for the fall, so I realized that I will actually have more freedom to do fun and interesting projects with them this summer. SOTW, here we come!

  42. Thank you for sharing your plans. My daughter starts kindergarten next year, and I have been on the fence about homeschooling/unschooling. But my daughter got accepted into a free music conservatory charter school (K-8th grade), and we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. As a family we will always be on-call to homeschool out daughter depending on her needs. I do believe we cannot and should not rely on the school system to nurture the whole child. I love the term of after schooling and it has given me some great ideas to provide a rich play-based learning environment in our home and community once my daughter is done for the school day.
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  43. Tsh, this is exactly what we do too! I also have a 7 year old who needs more than her school gives her. While homeschool is so appealing for me, I know in my heart that it is not the best decision for our family. So we do lots of afterschooling! Honestly much of it doesn’t happen after the school day. Most of it occurs during the winter and summer breaks. During the school year, we just focus on reading awesome books out aloud (right now it is the narnia series) and some math work. Thanks for this post.

  44. Lily Iatridis says:

    Thanks for the ideas Tsh. I do feel that my son isn’t getting everything he needs at school, not because he doesn’t have a good teacher, but simply because the class size is too big and she’s spread too thin. What’s your opinion on some of these after school places like Kumon to help with reading skills?

  45. LOVED this post. Love this after schooling idea. I can’t wait to dive into these resources this weekend!

    I was wondering though, how much did the cost of private school factor into your decision? Isn’t it crazy expensive to pay for 2 children in private school? Just curious about that part of it.
    Archer’s latest post: Ginger Up Your Baked Strawberries & Pears

  46. These are such great resources. My daughter is almost 3 and the thought of where on earth to start with education is really overwhelming for me. I pinned these right away 😉

  47. Raji P. says:

    I am so happy to see this – as there are a lot of us whose children are in wonderful schools (with no homework, yay) who want to get inspired and get ideas from our homeschooling counterparts even though we don’t have all day to do it.

    I hope you will make this a weekly series, to keep us abreast of how it is going for you, and new things you come across that we can try to implement at home.

    Between sports and music there and playtime the rest of the day after school is over in a flash. Yet there is so much we want to expose our children to!

    Let the ideas start flowing …

  48. I admit that I chuckled a little that there is a term for this. I went to public school growing up, but my mother always supplemented when she thought the school curriculum lacking or unable to pursue a particular interest of hours. It wasn’t always extremely structured (that often depended on how much supplementing was necessary) and we had LOTS of play time. I have taught in the public school system and am a public school advocate. Especially having seen my one “diverse” student rock the world of all my little Caucasian, middle class students. Everyone learned a lot. HOWEVER, I am an even bigger advocate of not doing things on ‘default’ (I loved, loved, LOVED- did I mention LOVED? that post you wrote) and doing what is best for your children and family. If everyone were that invested in their children and families (and not just in the education realm) that they would do things intentionally and not on default- then I don’t hesitate to say the world would be a better place. I am digressing. Good luck with the afterschooling- it looks like a great plan!

  49. Thank you for introducing me to this concept!

    As someone whose career/calling is in higher education I see a LOT of underprepared students. I love the idea of giving families some tools and structure to supplement the school day.

  50. HI, I feel like it was an answer to prayer to come across your blog on this topic. I home schooled (am still finishing up) this past year and used Classical Conversations! It is a wonderful program. But I have been wrestling and struggling with doing it again next year. Thank you for your honesty about this..I had been thinking about how to continue using some of the curriculum I have…latin, the geography and the memory work.

  51. I really appreciate the courage in your decision and in posting about it. I think as homeschoolers we can become so convinced of the merits in homeschooling that to choose anything else makes us feel like we are somehow violating our own values. But there is such grace in parenting, in finding God’s will for your family for each season. Good for you.
    Becky’s latest post: quick 5

  52. Jennifer says:

    I did try to incorporate afterschooling when we put my oldest in school. Unfortunately, the homework load for third grade and up made it almost impossible to enjoy any afterschool learning.
    We, too, take it a year and a kid at a time and I am sure this coming year will be a great one for you all!!

  53. I hesitate to leave what could be percieved as a negative comment, but would like to share some cautions. I have been homeschooling for 22 years, have 6 children (5-27), and have helped organize our support group for all of those years. I have observed a lot of parents that transition into school outside of the home. They intend to keep working with their kids at some level. What I have noticed is that the children come home from 6+ hours of school tired, especially of sitting and listening. The parents are tired, too. It feels like a form of torture to everyone involved to keep doing academics when what everyone really needs is down time or exercise. I wonder about the necessity of supplementing an education that you and your child are already paying dearly for in time and money. My encouragement would be to seek out others who seem successful at afterschooling to inspire you. I notice, even with something like piano lessons, that when I give the responsibility of teaching to an outside person, I neglect to do my part to make sure I know what it expected. I am not saying it can’t work, only that I haven’t seen it work! Blessings to you in this new adventure.

    • Cindy Schwartz says:

      I don’t think your reply is negative Tawny, it is reality. I have used much of the curriculum the author used in 7 years of homeschooling and just getting it done as a homeschooler is a challenge. I can’t imagine having to get it done after a full day of school.

  54. I am very interested in this! I’m due with our 3rd child this summer and plan on sending my eldest to the public elementary this fall, but she’s been in really great preschools till now and I worry about her getting lost in the average. I know, all parents think their kids are awesome! But I do, I think her little brain is just amazing and I worry about the school giving her all she needs. I don’t have a private option available where we live so I thought of homeschooling her, but I worry about having the time between a newborn and my just turned 3 year old (who’s going to be home kind of preschooled.) But afterschooling- that could work, I could supplement! Then again (I sound like a worry wart!) I worry that she’ll be beat after the school day. But maybe I’ll try out some of the ones you suggested and we can just do them as she feels like it? We do try and have her and me time everyday at some point. This is rambling, sorry! I am looking forward to reading more comments and hearing how this works out for you!
    Susanna’s latest post: Barcelona! with kids :)

  55. Oh, such a hot topic! Kudos to you, Tsh, for your honesty and willingness to be open to share. That can be hard.

    We have solely “homeschooled” and then put our oldest 2 kids in public school in our new hometown last year in order to get to know people around the area (hubby is new pastor in the area). It was, like many have mentioned, a ‘let’s try this one year and then reevaluate’… And that’s what we do each year – evaluate what’s working, what is and isn’t doable, and pray, pray,pray about it!!

    Good wishes to you in a different kind of schooling year next year. There can be good in it all.

    ~ Kerry

  56. Thank you for sharing this post. I might use some of this information this summer when my son is on summer break to keep his mind engaged. Another thing to consider is doing some of your “afterschooling” on the the weekends when your children are “fresh” and haven’t had a full day of school. Best of luck. On a different note, I’m looking forward to your next podcast!

  57. Tsh, the decision to go back into the school system can be a tough one. We did the same a few years ago and I still miss the homeschooling time with my girls. Being in a school, while the right thing for our family now, isn’t always easy. But our homeschooling background has stuck with all of us and adds to our lives.

    I love your concept of after-schooling and look forward to hearing more about it.

  58. We afterschool … I just call it “summer schooling” (I know, I know) and I focus on read-alouds that haven’t fit into our curriculum rhythm. We do continue with any history reading (but in bite sizes) that we didn’t finish … this year we still have about 40 pages of George Washington’s World, so we’ll do one little section a day. My son continues with his math lessons … Teaching Textbooks on the computer. And he will journal daily — with some guidance from me as to topics from time to time. He will have a mid-day rest each day (depending on our schedule that day) and he can rest with a book for a half-hour while his younger brother naps. I wanted to get to US Geography since we were studying American Revolution and Lewis & Clark and slavery among other things this year. We just didn’t fit it in to my liking. So, I picked up a generic, colorful workbook (we usually don’t use these kinds of things, so it will feel more “fun” and “summery”). He’ll do a couple of pages a day in that. The total time for summer schooling should be about 1.5 hours a day. He can have a leisurely morning, get to his schooling for an hour, go play with friends or have friends in, have lunch and rest/read and then play for the afternoon. We’ll do our read-alouds at night before bed. I am looking forward to summer-school. We’ll also take some “hard breaks” in there where we don’t school at all — first week off of our homeschool year, two weeks end of July-beginning of Aug. And one week before we start in for our new school year in the fall. We do need real time off too. Thanks for this post. I love your resources. Going to check them out to be sure.

  59. we just enrolled or daughter in school also, after 1.5 years of is such a hard decision to make!

  60. My oldest is just finishing fulltime kindergarten (all they have here where I live, boo), and although we have felt for our family, doing public school worked, I have wanted to do more with her separately. I find that on school days, she really is beat in the afternoon – reading with her on school days, versus on Saturdays are so much harder (thankfully our kindergarten here doesn’t have homework). However, with school ending in a week, I’m planning on doing a Summer school with her and her four year old sister – just a couple hours, a few days a week. Thanks for the resources you listed out – I’ve used The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to teaching reading last Summer and liked it, and now I’m thinking that instead of getting it from the Library like I did last year, I should buy it (since I renewed it three times last year, to last all Summer!). I’m also really intrigued by the history of the world volumes – I’ll have to read the sample sections and see if they’re for us.

  61. We love afterschooling! It is definitely a way of life, more than a choice of curriculum, and I think it fosters a love for learning. Our kids attend private school, but I have long been a student of the richness that homeschooling affords. Nature walks, language study, whole books….it all simply makes life richer. We are also at a private school that allows us to make some personalized curriculum choices for our kids, so we have been able to add latin to their schooltime work and substitute some curriculae that we love in certain subjects. Afterschooling is awesome.

  62. I have done half day school with after school, homeschooling and now full day school with after/before schooling. Our children are in a Montessori school with no homework for now so it is easy for us to do after or before school.
    We play Story of the World in the car and discuss.
    Literature is a big part – this happens before bed.
    Religious education is daily in small chuncks but a big lesson on the weekends.
    The kids are always asking for work so I do provide math games,
    Board games that help with logic, reading and money or math.
    They love to listen to CD’s in their room so I have from Spanish to poetry to fables.
    Oh, and we are also all learning sign language! The iPad apps are helping us!
    I wish you luck. I do miss not having my kids all day but they love their school and it is best for our family.

    • This is such a great blog. We have homeschooled officially for 6 years and this year for the first time we, as a family, decided to send our two boys 9 and 7 to a small private school. We also wrestled with the decision so much but since we also moved to a new country, my husband and I thought it would be a great cultural experience to do one year of schooling here. It is a very small and cozy school with great teacher but my two boys are not adjusting well and keep asking us to come back and do homeschooling. I was looking for realistic activities to do with them afterschool since I feel we all have a need to reconnect and I miss teaching them so much. So far we do Bible based activities, read classical novels and watch its movie; watch educational videos sometimes or do CTC math and play a lot (board games, puzzles, sports etc.). We don’t do everything everyday because the children do have a lot of homework and come tired. As I said before, I am trying to reconnect with them and not create a burden for them so we usually only have time for 1 or 2 activities. As of right now, we all think we will go back to homeschooling next school year but we will see how the year goes. So happy to find this type of sites.

  63. Thank you for this post. I have been struggling with my desire to homeschool and my husband wanting me to continue working. This is looking like a possible compromise and I have started planning what after-schooling might look like for us.

  64. Thank you so much for this post! After 3 years of CC, we just put our daughter in public school (3rd), and my son is doing K at home with me. Since I may have to go back to work next year, I have been agonizing over how to supplement public school. I had been thinking of just playing the SOTW and CC CDs for the kids, so it’s just kind of cool to know I’m not alone.
    Laura’s latest post: Table, Farmhouse Style

  65. I LOVE this and can’t wait to dig in more! I have been needing some direction in how-thank you!!!

  66. Angela Marks says:

    Help! I don’t know where to start. I’m a 30 year old single mom that works a full-time 8 am – 5 pm job. My son is in the 7th grade and I am so in need of homeschooling.He spends from 3 – 5 pm with my mother who doesn’t sees the importance of starting his work on time. I have double duty when I get home to prepare our meals, help him with his homework, clean house, ect. I want to start afterschooling. What can I do?

  67. It\’s lovely that you\’ve made the decision that is best for your family. I\’ve had a magistrate order my child into public school, despite the fact that she tested as gifted and socially advanced, because \’home education does not allow the father to be involved\’ (?!). It\’s been a really tough adjustment period, my daughter still battles every morning and feigns illness every day at school in an attempt to be sent home. After schooling is our only option. It is often the brightest part of our day and sometimes the only way I can get her out to door to school (the promise of doing some real valuable work together when she returns). The problem is she is exhausted after school, she\’s not being challenged there. It is hard to fit in more academic work when she has been restricted to a classroom all day. I wish you the very best of luck – finding what works for your family right now is the most important thing. With out harmony nothing works very well!
    Brianna’s latest post: “Aren’t you a little short to be a storm…

  68. In many parts of the world, Asian countries mostly, after schooling is a way of life. That, too, with schools giving serious amount of homework. That said, it can go both ways on kids, they either soar and excel, or they can get frustrated, and every once in a while you see in the news young lives ended because of frustration. I admire your philosophy of one-year-at a time, one-kid-at a time. I wish you and your family all the best.

  69. Good luck! I had those thoughts too! It was impossible to after school for so many reasons.

  70. Of my two oldest, one went to 1st grade public school and the other 1-3rd. My youngest (finishing 6th grade this year) went to k-4th and a half of 5th. There are some times we need to make use of the public school system, and I sympathize with how much ‘seeing your kids learn’ time you will miss. The years mine have been in public school I haven’t added anything educational for us to do. I mainly made sure all ‘grown up and home’ projects were complete before they were home so we had free time together. As you can see from yesterdays post ( I have a lot of trial and error in my life, after this many years.
    Ultimately, when the parents care as much as you seem to, the children flourish.
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  71. I couldn’t find any follow up. Did this system work for your family?
    Amy’s latest post: Toddler Activity Fail.

  72. I loved this post because I see the same struggles and decisions that our family has come to this past semester. We won’t be “afterschooling” but, we’re using all the same curriculum you are: Telling God’s Story, Story of the World, and CC-at home. A friend of mine and I are getting our kids together to do CC on a weekly basis because we love the history and geography parts of the curriculum as well. However, we both found some things that we didn’t like, so we’re custom-fitting it to our families. Thanks for posting this – I love seeing the unconventional homeschooling methods people are choosing! Good luck in your coming year and I hope you’ll blog much about it! ~liz

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