I’ll be brutally honest right up front: we’re not currently homeschooling. There I said it.
One of the central tenets of homeschooling is choosing educational pathways that work for your family, and right now we’re stuck with public school. We just moved, and know nobody in the area. My daughter is very social and an only child, which left us in an awkward spot for meeting new friends. A few other circumstances made public school the better choice. I had hoped that with a new school (and new school district even), that it would be an improvement over the last school.
Nope. It’s still really weak, she’s bored and hardly learning anything. So I am looking for ways to improve the situation without pulling her out of school, at least until next year.
Anyway, enough about me. The point is that various circumstances can mean you’re stuck with public school even when it’s not ideal. In comes “afterschooling“. The idea is that you enrich your school day with additional activities and work after a day at public school. Here are some tips if you are trying to make this work.
Keep it Short and Fun
Your kid has just been at school for at least 6 hours. Trying to tack on 2 hours of academics on top of that is not going to work. Unlike standard homeschooling, afterschooling has a much shorter window of opportunity so you have to keep it upbeat. Use apps, draw posters, work on puzzles, watch documentaries, or do experiments to add interest.
I have a few good online sites I can use for free puzzle-making tools (I’ll post more on them later), and have done all kinds of crossword and word search puzzles to help reinforce our material without using “boring” worksheets.
The biggest trick is to break down your enrichment subjects into the right size chunks. I prefer to keep our sessions to under an hour, usually closer to 30 minutes per day. I realize you can’t provide a complete education in half an hour, and I’m not trying to. It’s enrichment.
Follow the School’s Lead
I learned this one the hard way. Before teaching anything that will also be taught in school, see how they are covering it. This mainly pertains to math, though it could be an issue with science too. I wanted to give Em a head-start in long division so we learned and practiced it before it was started at school. And to my shock, they are teaching a different method. Now she’s thoroughly confused. I think their method stinks, but that’s another story.
You can avoid any home/school conflict by focusing your afterschooling efforts on topics that the school isn’t doing. Around here, that includes cursive writing and geography. There are also lots of books to read.
So don’t completely despair if you have to keep your kids in public school at the moment. A little afterschooling might help.