Monday, May 7, 2012

What is afterschooling?

I am a huge proponent of afterschooling.  Afterschooling is an idea that grew out of the homeschool movement, but is used by families who send their kids to traditional schools.  Very simply, it means that you don't hand your child's education over to the school and hope for the best.  Instead, you make a conscious effort to continue educating your child outside of school time.  Most of us actually do this to some extent whether we realize it or not.  Do you require your child to read?  Do you do the occasional kitchen science experiment?  Have you played a math game?  Guess what: you're an afterschooler!

There are, of course, all different extents of afterschooling.  Some people do more than others, some people use formal curriculum and others don't.  I personally take it pretty easy.  I read a great post at  Teaching My Baby To Read about afterschooling.   Jennifer calculated out that if you do just 20 minutes of afterschooling a day, but the end of high school your child will have had the equivalent of two full years of additional schooling!  That's massive!  I suddenly realized that my daughter probably spends at least 2 hours in front of the TV and computer each day.  Surely we could fit in 20 minutes of education!  (Okay, I promise no more exclamation marks for at least five sentences.)

Here's our current afterschool curriculum:

We read to our daughter for about 1/2 an hour every day.  We also require that she read to us for 10-15 minutes.  This is usually done at bedtime.

I feel very strongly that the arts are missing from schools, so I make sure to make up for it at home.  We look at paintings from famous artists and discuss things like line, color, texture, and style.  Then we experiment with the artists techniques.  (I'll be sharing some of the ideas soon)  We probably spend a 1/2 hour on art 2-3 times a week, because both my daughter and I love it so much.

I'm an Episcopalian and I want my daughter to learn more about our religion than she's going to learn in a 25 minute Sunday School class.  Familiarity with bible characters and stories is also important to understanding literature and cultural references.  We're currently using the Episcopal Children's Curriculum from VTS which is free online here.  I alter it to fit my daughter.  (Much more extensive crafts than the ones suggested)  We spend a 1/2 hour on this one to two times a week.

Math / Science
I'll admit, I'm not a big math and science person.  But we play math games, study nature, and do the occasional science experiment.  Nothing formal or highly organized. 

Since we have more time in the summer, I'm planning to add some history using The Story of the World and grammar using First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind.  We'll also do some more organized math with the Life of Fred series.

What could you add for 20 minutes a day?  What do you think your  child's school is skimping on?  What is you kid behind in?  What does your child love to learn about?  Don't think afterschooling has to be drudgery.  Most kids love to learn new things, as long as there aren't any workbooks in sight!

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