Thursday, March 3, 2011

Afterschooling afternoons


It's been a long time since I posted about our afterschooling practice, but we are still doing this. I had a period of discouragement, and a little embarrassment, after our mid-year conference at Carbon's sudbury school (at least one staff there seemed to strongly disapprove of this family practice). It began to feel like a huge drag, and we only kept at it out because I can be a stubborn-mama.

When I re-evaluated my life over New Year's, we talked about whether we should just stop afterschooling. The kids are going to school, and we aren't under any obligation to keep homeschooling them also. But I didn't really want to give this up; at heart I'm still a homeschooler. As much as I love Carbon's school, in a world without any compromises I would be homeschooling my kids on a modified Charlotte Mason plan. I'm not really built to be an unschooler or a Sudbury parent; I'm more than a bit of a control freak.

Know thyself, and then work with that.

My kids get their freedom at school, and their sit-down lessons at home. We're just totally backwards! But I think it works for us.

So we weren't having much fun with our afterschooling after the school conference, but we realized at New Year's that a lot of that was because we had stopped doing all the Fun Stuff and were just slogging through the math and reading workbooks - the least inspiring, least interesting, least fun part of our afterschooling. So I resolved to not do Less afterschooling, but rather More. Just More Fun.

Now we are back in a groove. I write the week's lesson plans (really just an outline) on our white board, and when we get home from school the first thing the kids do is get a snack and some tea and sit down at the table for their afterschooling. Hypatia doesn't actually have any afterschooling assignments, but that doesn't stop her from creating her own work using Carbon's old Math U See Primer level book and some old handwriting practice books. She finds her own work.

Carbon is doing Math U See Alpha level still. We're in no hurry. He does a page of it about three times a week - we won't win any races but really that is not the point of our work. He is using the Explode the Code and reading to us out of all sorts of easy readers and primers (we just have a basket of them and he picks out the one he wants to read on any given day). We just started using Hooked on Spanish to do some spanish language work. I don't know yet if I like it or not.

That covers the stuff that we count as not-as-much fun.

Then we are reading and narrating with Story of the World, volume two. Carbon loves history - heck, actually the whole family loves this book. I don't love classical education, completely, but I do think this book series is incredibly well-written.

For science, we just follow Carbon's interests. He picks the topic, we check out all the library books we can find on it, do some hands on projects and experiments if appropriate, and look for documentary films. He loves science, he loves history - he's at this adorable stage where he browses the library juvenile non-fiction section and checks out more books than he can carry home.

I think we are in a good groove now with our work here. I treasure our family learning time.


  1. Thanks for posting on this. Rattling around in my mind lately has been the story of Obama's mother teaching him before school, and your post pushed me to track down the story:

    (From also enrolled her son in a U.S. correspondence course and “five days a week she came into my room at four in the morning, force-fed me breakfast, and proceeded to teach me my English lessons for three hours before I left for school and she went to work.” When he protested, his mother simply said, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

  2. "Know thyself, and then work with that." My new mantra!

    It sounds like your kids are getting the best of both worlds now, and as long as you are all enjoying it, why not afterschool? I love that Hypatia creates her own assignments!