Every family has unique reasons to supplement public school education at home:
- to provide enrichment for gifted learners
- to augment instruction from a low-performing school
- to offer remediation to get children up to grade level
- to improve grades
- to protect the natural curiosity that the classroom can unintentionally dull
- to nurture the creative expression that a structured school environment may stifle
- to review and reinforce school lessons
Make your home a haven for learning by providing extras for your kids after school. Some parents call these supplements afterschooling, homeschooling after school, Mommy school, after school skill building, or enrichment. Whatever you call this approach, these add-ons boost academics and foster close family bonds.
"A child only educated at school is an uneducated child." George Santayana
If you want a laid back approach that feels nothing like traditional school, go for strewing where you simply make learning resources easy to access:
- stack engaging novels on your child's bedside table
- put science kits on the kitchen counter
- hang a markable map on the dining room wall
- place non-fiction books on the coffee table
- gather art supplies in a basket
- toss a few logic puzzles into the backseat
The beauty of strewing is that the materials themselves will call to your children, inviting them to explore and learn of their own volition. You don't cajole, but you are there to support the learning when asked. And, of course, you can have great family discussions about what your kids do as a result of engaging with the materials you strew about your home.
More Structured Learning for Younger Kids
If your children are young and amenable to being led, you can take a more direct approach and implement an informal after school curriculum. This supplemental schooling gives your family the benefit of the most enjoyable parts of homeschooling without having to become a full-fledged homeschool family. Mom doesn't have to quit her job and stay home with the kids to teach them. She and Dad can simply read aloud meaningful books and have thoughtful discussions with the children after school and on the weekends.
While you may use a homeschool schedule as a foundation, you can work through it at your own pace, either skipping around, or doing the next thing as time allows.
Open-ended Exploration for Kids with Defined Passions
As kids mature, they begin to form their own interests. But due to their restraints of reaching state standards with such a broad swath of children, schools can't be expected to provide the in-depth exploration that your kids crave for their favorite topics. This is where homeschooling after school comes into play.
Because kids are passionate about these topics, this kind of learning is more of a hobby than schoolwork. The great part is that kids often discover their life's calling by extending these passions into higher education and later a career.
Take your child's lead on how much direction they want and need from you. Often all you have to do is provide the right books, kits, and classes. Their quick minds will devour the supplements with effortless learning – all because of their intrinsic motivation.
When kids are at this level, it's a good idea to hand them a catalog and let them create a wishlist of learning resources.
"Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." John Dewey
How to Homeschool After School or Afterschool
Decide which approach suits your child best: strewing; parent-led, structured learning; or child-led, open-ended exploration. Then start collecting resources.
- Is there a passion you want to nurture? Gather books, tools, and kits on that topic. Strew them about or set aside an hour each day to enjoy them together.
- Is there a learning deficiency that you want to shore up? Look for games, DVDs, and other fun ways to offer stealth learning. Make this learning time fun with whole-family participation, lighthearted humor, and special snacks.
- Unsure where to start? Establish a daily read aloud habit, using a collection of high quality novels. Then see where your discussions take you! As questions arise, research them by watching videos, consulting atlases, and reading more books. Let the learning happen organically for best results both academically and relationally. You will love the deep conversations inspired by sharing books together. You learn what's important to your child and get to impart your values, too.
"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school." Albert Einstein
How to Supplement Public School Education at Home
If you prefer to have your at home learning closely complement what is being taught at school, maybe in an effort to improve grades, get an outline from your child's teacher and compare it to the Sonlight catalog. Choose novels, biographies, and non-fiction titles that match the topics from your child's language arts, history, and science classes at school, and enjoy them at bedtime reading or on weekends.
Use the online search function here at Sonlight.com to find resources by topic, period of history, or scientific field. Or reference this comprehensive scope and sequence.
You don't have to match what the school is doing, by the way. Any learning counts! So another option is to simply choose a curriculum package that suits your child's current level and work through it, doing the most enjoyable parts. Advisors are available to help you choose a program that fits your child. With afterschooling, you aren't limited to grade levels! If your child is advanced in an area, you can zoom forward and select materials that will challenge your little prodigy.
Whether your goals are to improve grades, shore up gaps, or to fuel a child's giftedness, math is a common academic subject for afterschooling. Since your child already has a math curriculum at school, you may want to choose a complete program at a slightly lower level for remediation. Or choose a program with a completely different methodology to reach the child who is having trouble fully grasping some mathematical concepts. See our math options here, with full descriptions.
For many children, the use of physical manipulatives to illustrate the math concepts is the key to mastery. Maybe your child's school doesn't use manipulatives, but you can use them at home while going over homework.
If you have a self-declared math hater, consider adding fun math resources to your strewing strategy. MathTacular! (DVDs) and Life of Fred (books) are radically different from the math textbooks your child uses in school. Their quirky approaches have won over many a hesitant math student.
Kindergarten is the perfect time to explore the world together with your child. If your child is enrolled in a typical kindergarten program, you can still enjoy afterschooling on nights, weekends, and summers. We recommend Sonlight A which sets the stage for future learning with its gentle introduction to formal academics. In this program, your children develop a big-picture understanding that past civilizations existed and that people live differently throughout the world – something they probably won't glean from their day to day kindergarten class.
Use Sonlight A after school as a sampler platter, giving your child a taste of different world cultures and different periods in World History. They will be ahead of their peers in later grades when they already are familiar with Vikings and Romans!
Sonlight A inspires children to develop a healthy curiosity about the world around them. These books naturally lead to conversations – about faith, about character, about relationships. These books present worthy heroes who display courage and honesty, who work hard, who love their families, and who do the right thing.
Your children won't be little forever, and this program allows you to enjoy these first years of schooling together with them even though they go to school each day. From hands-on activities to stories they'll remember their entire lives, get ready for lots of laughs and hugs. Stretch the 36-week program to suit your schedule, supplementing what your children are already learning at kindergarten. Spend two years on it if you like!
Supplementing Preschool at Home
Preschoolers are little sponges, absorbing information both from their daily preschool program and also from you at home. Every book you read aloud to your child at this age transforms into pure gold in terms of vocabulary, language skills, and imagination. Take advantage of this pivotal time of child development by journeying through the best children's books. For this stage, we offer two options: the Preschool Package and a Pre-Kindergarten Package. Both are jam-packed with carefully curated picture books and Read-Alouds, guaranteed to provide memory-making moments as you snuggle together on the couch after school or under the blankets before bedtime.
These no-pressure programs spark a love for learning and for reading – a valuable trait that puts your children ahead of their peers all the way through to college. The Parent's Companion lists all the stories and poems included in the Preschool program. Check them off as you go, so you know that you've read them all at least once, and then return to your favorites again and again. You'll find developmentally appropriate, easy, creative hands-on activities connected with most of the stories, so you can extend your learning into daily life and play.
The Pre-K program is scheduled for 36-weeks, but stretch it to fit your pace as afterschoolers. Afterschooling Pre-K means great memories, a closer relationship with your children, significant improvements in foundational skills, and an eagerness for learning that will continue to grow in the years ahead.
Whatever your reason to establish an educational after school routine, Sonlight is your one-stop-shop to provide your children with educational supplements and enrichment activities year-round.