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 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.)