Afterschooling

Afterschooling is actually a word. Coined by homeschool parents, it is generally used by those who send their children to traditional schools. Most parents afterschool whether they use the term or not. They read with their children, teach them to cook, go on science expeditions, visit museums, talk about politics…the list goes on and on.

Generally, afterschooling teaches new skills and concepts or delves deeper into ideas learned in school. It rarely takes the form of worksheets, lectures, and videos and instead focuses on skills, experiences, and literature. Homeschool parents already know about the value of teaching by doing, seeing, testing, and reading. Many traditional parents who want to realize some of the outcomes from the homeschool movement while still sending their children to traditional schools practice afterschooling.

The typical way to develop an afterschool plan is to figure out something that you or your child are interested in and want to learn more about. Then, you do. There isn’t that much planning or organizing and there definitely isn’t much testing.

We try to emulate this method with our American-History-in-a-Box program. We provide rich and interesting books, fun and interactive games, and an activity book that, while standards-based, encourages children to think independently and actively engage with their topics. We do include coloring pages and word searches, especially for younger children, but we also include project ideas and critical thinking exercises. For a child who balks at paper and pen? Skip the activities in the book. Read about the Standards and then talk about the concepts, find more books, visit museums, debate. Hopefully, our boxes provide the first step, the motivation, the inspiration to learn and discover.

I grew up an a farm (true afterschooling) and learned by doing. I love the idea of being cognizant that kids are always learning and that we can guide that process (or let them guide us). If we think something is important, like learning history, we can share that with kids and help them connect that subject with life as it is and will be.

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