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. 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

  2. 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!!

  3. 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.

  4. 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 :)

  5. 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

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

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

  16. 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?

  17. 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…

  18. 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.

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

  20. 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.
    April’s latest post: HOMESCHOOL: 6th Grade in Review

  21. I couldn’t find any follow up. Did this system work for your family?
    Amy’s latest post: Toddler Activity Fail.

  22. 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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