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There is a new trend in education that has been gaining in popularity that I would like to share with you. It’s not a new trend exactly- it’s been called many things over the years. However it has been picking up steam. See if any of these situations that I've heard from parents I know sound familiar:
If you identify with any of these concerns or others, you aren’t alone. The fact is, that no institution or teacher can be all things to all people - no matter how hard they try or how well intentioned they are!
I firmly believe that parents are their children’s first teachers. We are ultimately responsible for our children’s educations. If there are concerns, it’s our job to do what we can to remedy them.
Parents can’t always wave a magic wand to help their child understand decimals, influence how their local teachers and schools work, change the school their child attends, or homeschool. The truth is, there probably isn’t a perfect solution out there. However, I truly believe that every parent CAN afterschool.
What is Afterschooling?
Afterschooling is supplementing education at home, after school. It can be as rigorous, easy, formal, or casual as you’d like.
Some parents have an inner teacher in them and enjoy teaching their children about things that are important to them. Some parents want to hammer in the difference between “there”, “their” and “they’re”. Some parents want to dive deep into their children’s interests, while others just want to be good parents and help their kids as much as they can.
Chances are, your parents probably did this for you, and you are already doing it with your kids. It’s called being a good parent. But sometimes, when we give something a formal name, it helps us be a little more deliberate and a little more focused on what we want to achieve.
How do I Afterschool?
First of all, let me be clear: there are several ways to do this, and no one, “right” way. There is also no wrong way. You are the expert on your child. You know what they need, what they like, what they hate, how much time and what resources you have. But here are some ideas that will help you get started:
1. Make education a part of every day life
2. Have fun!
3. Read, read, read
In Jim Trelease’s "Read Aloud Handbook", the benefits of reading as a family are shown over and over and over again. Test scores soar, emotional intelligence rises, and connection is strengthened. Please do not dismiss this easy, yet powerful strategy. Books carefully chosen can become good friends, inspiring mentors, and powerful educators. There are SO many wonderful books out there. Sonlight.com is a tried and true source for excellent books that my family has enjoyed and learned from for years and years. Try one book, or get an entire read aloud or history package- it’s such a gentle and connecting way to learn!
4. Formalized Learning
If you feel like you need to pull out the big guns for a particular subject, try getting a formal course. Spelling? Math? History? Grammar? You name it, homeschool curriculum has got it- and it’s amazing! Plus, it’s specifically designed for parents who might not have a background in education- so don’t be intimidated.
There are also other resources to help you. Your child's teacher is definitely one to start with. Also, chat with a friend who homeschools or join a homeschool facebook group. They won’t care that you aren’t formally homeschooling and they will more than happy to talk your ear off as they explain the different curricula and the pros and cons. Use these moms who have “been there and done that” to help you on your journey.
(Here’s your first tip from me: remember to keep lessons short- your kids have already been in school all day. The last thing you want them to do is to make them hate learning because they are burned out!)
Experience is one of the best teachers. Take road trips and visit far away places. Visit local business and learn about your home and what surrounds it.
But sometimes, no matter how hard we look, or how hard we try, the resources we need aren't available. When that happens, sometimes you have to create what you want. That is why my friend and I started our own robotics team. It's a TON of work, but we are fortunate to have the time, resources and support to be able to do run it for fourteen children in our community.
As you carefully look at your child’s education, you will probably find some gaps- we all have them. But these gaps present a wonderful opportunity to bond with your child in a different way. When we learn, explore and have discussions together, we aid our children’s education, give them resources and opportunities that they otherwise might not have, and we might even end up learning something new ourselves!
To get more practical suggestions on how to afterschool, check out my guest post for Sonlight, 6 Ways to Afterschool That Don't Feel Like School At All.
How do YOU afterschool?
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