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Fitting it all in

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I was wondering if any my fellow afterschoolers could assist me with a conundrum. In addition, to my afterschooling desires I have high hopes of doing arts and crafts with my children as well. However, fitting those activities in, along with any afterschooling, regular chores, music practice, and family time just isn't happening. Suggestions?


I was also wondering to what extent, if any, your husbands participate in your afterschooling. I'm not wanting to engage in husband-bashing. My husband will help if I specifically ask him to do something but doesn't volunteer although he is very supportive and encouraging. I would like to figure out how to involve him more so it is truly a family endeavor.

Edited by LibrarianMom
should have read is instead of isn't
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I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. I have been wondering the same thing. Somethings I do - we have a DVD player in the car, so I use that time to have the girls watch some DVDs - this is something my DH can do, pretty much everywhere we go is an hour round trip. I'll also have my oldest DD read to DH during bedtime stories. He is not too big on reading tons, but he'll be happy to listen to DD read. He is helping me put together the girls' study, so he is contributing by building shelves, but other than that he isn't too involved. :D

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I also find it hard to fit much more in. Luckily our elementary school is doing a pretty good job of covering things (except writing instruction). They do have Saxon math and spelling homework each night. They are also expected to read 20-30 minutes (I give mine a basket of books that they need to read 2-3 books from each week in addition to their free reading). And then they each have 20-30 minutes of violin/cello practice. Of course there are the lessons, sports teams, trips to the library, etc...and of course they need time to just play outside with friends...and it is hard to find time to do anything more! My biggest problem is that the kids don't WANT to do anything more...so sometimes it's hard to battle that part of it.


I am thinking of creating a type of workbox situation--just one box for each of mine or one for us to do together--to rotate through the things I want to do with them afterschool. I've read of how a lot of those trying the workbox method are finally able to do all those great extras they have hidden in the closet (geography games, mindbenders, art projects, etc)--and I feel like I've got some great ideas, but we're just not organized enough to do it.


I'm still in the brainstorming stage, but I'm thinking to have something like Mondays we bake a treat together, Tuesdays we play an educational game, Wednesdays we do an art project, Thursdays we read stories & do narration, Fridays we go on a field trip or the park (my kids get out early on fridays). I'm also planning on doing a Sunday afternoon time where we read stories from William Bennett's "Book of Virtues" and have them write down a narration from that. On top of this, I do plan on finding a grammar workbook type of program to have my ds12 be doing--I plan to just assign it on Sunday and he can work on it anytime that week before the next Sunday.


We typically only allow computer/screen time on Fridays and Saturdays. I'd like to create a list of those educational websites that I find mentioned here and assign my kids to visit those sites--typing, geography, history topics, math facts practice, logic games, etc. Years ago I had seen a mom who put together a website/blog (??) where her children could go and just click on the Sesame Street icon and it would take them directly to the games. I'm not computer savvy enough (not even a blog) to know how to do this, but I'd like to figure it out. My kids are definitely old enough to get online and find the games they want...but I'm talking about having them go to the places I want them to! And if I let them do it during the week, they would probably be excited.


Of course, even with the best plan in mind...violin lessons, football practice, friends over, library trips, scouts...there is just too much to do sometimes and something's got to give. I try to just remember that I'm doing all I can to develop life-long learners. I get a lot more done in the summertime--I look at that as my homeschooling time where I can really get some work done. During the school year, I just try to enrich and add to what they are getting at school. I do try to use our time in the car with educational CD's--I'd love to get SOTW, but for now just do books on CD or math facts or Schoolhouse Rocks.


Oh, and my dh isn't involved in very much of our afterschooling. Not that he's unsupportive, it's just that most of it is done while he is gone. When he is here, he is amazed at how much we have going on in those hours after school and before dinner...and then he understands why I need chocolate chip cookies.


I'll look forward to reading ideas on here! I love learning on these forums.

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It is very hard to fit it all in. And I've found I just have to be flexible. We listen to SOTW in the car, and we frequently drive 45-60 at a time, so they get in big chunks. I try to find library books that correspond with SOTW and we read them together in our before bedtime story line up. I make my kids do independent reading on Sunday afternoons, but they are still little. My older son will read on his own at other times as well. He likes to take a book to bed and read a while before he falls asleep. We do their school homework first, and if it doesn't take too long, I do FLL and some math facts with them. We also color some pictures for their History Pockets books and work on handwriting and phonics. We do these things about 4-5 days a week. I do craft projects with them every other week or so. I just make an effort to fit it into the homework time. Last week, they painted a wooden-framed mirror, then glued craft stones around the edges. They loved it. Sometimes, we get books from the library with science projects in them, and we do them, too, I'd say once a month. I also use the summer time to really catch up on the learning.


My best advice is not to make yourself crazy trying to fit in everything you want to do. It is impossible to do it all. Just know that everything you can do is beneficial, and be happy!


If dh gets home while we are still working on stuff, I'll make him review spelling words or math facts with the kids. Otherwise, he does nothing to help.


Best of luck,

Edited by thescrappyhomeschooler
adding dh info
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I'm still trying to figure this all out myself. It's a tough call, that's for certain :tongue_smilie:!! At the moment, my DS's are not involved in any sports or music lessons due to the fact that DH is between jobs and we're in the middle of a move, so there's just no time or $$$ for extras. And I STILL can't seem to find time! DS loves to relax after school, and to spend time outside or playing with friends. So I encourage this. I feel kids need a lot of downtime and that they learn a lot through their play, and even more-so by spending time outdoors and exploring nature.


After dinner, DS6 seems to really calm down, focus, and express the desire to do something educational. I've found his focus lasts just long enough to get one or two things done~ math and SOTW w/ a quick project, or reading a chapter out of his chemistry book (RS4K) and possibly a quick lab, or even something as simple as one lesson in FLL. I always try to have him read to me, but that doesn't always happen because it starts to get too late (and I'm a stickler for him getting to bed on time...... he's the kind of kid who NEEDS his sleep or he's miserable the next day). I've resigned myself to the fact that it won't all get done every night, so I'll just do bits and pieces here and there, whenever HE wants, in order to nuture his love of learning.


You stated that you're finding it hard to fit it all in, including "family time". Maybe play an educational game one night, watch a science DVD together, do a fun project or experiment (an easy one, without a lot of materials or set-up/clean-up involved) and consider this 'family time'?? Play CD's in the car while traveling to your sports and music lessons~ First Language Lessons has a CD, Story of the World is a good one to pop in, or get some quality audio stories from your library. Also, you mention music lessons. In my humble opinion, that is one of the BEST learning experiences a child can have. So even if you did nothing else all week your kids are being incredibly enriched. :)


ETA: My DH is incredibly smart when it comes to science, computers, and math. Unfortunately, he doesn't participate in our boys' academics nearly as much as I'd like, if at all. He's unconditionally supportive, which I appreciate beyond words, but I sometimes wish he'd show more interest in being involved. He has soooo much to offer, I just wish he had the desire to be a bigger part of their education.

Edited by Damselfly
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Thank you for the suggestions and encouragement thus far. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who struggles with this issue. I know a huge part of my problem is that I'm trying to do too much. I need to remember I'm afterschooling not full-fledged homeschooling and that anything we accomplish is better than nothing. It is cute when my little guy comes to me with his cutting or tracing book and asks "Mommy can we do some school?"


I edited my original post to indicate my husband IS supportive and encouraging. He is great in allowing me to purchase whatever I'd like to use with the kids but also encouraging me to be moderate in my purchases when needed. It's reassuring to know that he's not the only one to need some encouragement although in his defense he is amazing about helping with the laundry or dishes so I can do things with the kids.

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How do I fit it all in? Well, the simple answer is that I don’t. Even if I could do more myself, my children are easily overwhelmed and need plenty of play time and down time.


Six months after my daughter started full-time school I had to stop taking her to Kindermusik classes because she was too tired after school and cried and pleaded with me not to take her each week. She always enjoyed it once she got there but she resented me for making her go, and getting her to practise each week was such a battle that I just had to concede that a full day of school followed by a music class was more than my little girl could manage. She’d always loved her music class up until she started full time school; I was so disappointed.


Our after school classes are limited to physical activities the children enjoy such as dancing, gymnastics and swimming lessons.


The only formal after school teaching I do is reading and phonics which includes writing and spelling for dd7. I’m also trying to focus on mathematics more recently but it is all done incidentally as the opportunities present themselves. For this to work I’ve had to really try to slow things down and ‘smell the flowers’ so to speak. They ‘help’ me cook, they weigh vegetables at the supermarket, they count money, we measure things, we tell the time and ds4 likes me go out into the garden with him to find and count out 100 ‘magic beans’ one by one!


Personally, I find arts and crafts a bit tedious, but dd7 loves to draw, paint, write, cut, glue and make things. Our house is full of her projects. A friend recently gave her a tracing and step by step drawing book that keeps her occupied for hours each week.


My husband works 12-15 hour days at a demanding and stressful job. He is very supportive of me and what I do, but mostly his contribution at home, other than financing the whole operation, is limited to playing with the kids on the weekends. They go bike riding, play ball sports, go the park and even go out to cafes for afternoon tea.


Before we had children I imagined we’d both work and share the chores and child rearing. I really was just imagining because it hasn’t worked out that way at all. Somehow we’ve fallen into the most traditional of gender roles. The long-lost 20yo in me sometimes wonders what happened!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

You can hang a lot of different activities on that one concept. I'm assuming that in a double librarian family you read lots of books with your children. :) It's possible to co-ordinate nature journal work either with your own reading list and/or with what your dc are doing at school. If the school is doing a good job, you can focus on practice and enrichment.


Would your husband enjoy activities like backyard astronomy or a trip to the planetarium if city lights make DIY impossible? Does he enjoy landscaping? Setting up a backyard to help attract birds could involve planting, building bird houses, feeders, etc. Nature hikes are a great weekend activity.


If I've read your other posts correctly, you're not looking to re-invent the wheel, but complement, reinforce or do some minor tweaking of what the school is doing. Our best afterschool times were those when what we did looked informal and almost casual in spite of the fact that I'd put a lot of thought and planning into it. Keeping things low-key and informal also meant that once my son got past the stage of wanting to go to school and then come home and "play school" until bedtime, he could still do meaningful work without balking.


A low-key approach also defused a couple of potentially awkward situations with staff who were a tad defensive about parental involvement poaching on "their" territory. I genuinely liked and respected my son's teachers, and that made afterschooling a generally rewarding endeavor during the four years we tried it. Ds' third grade teacher actually tweaked homework assignments to fit our reading schedule. It doesn't get much better than that. :D


The biggest limiting factor is time; as your children get older it will become harder and harder to fit afterschooling into your schedule, so finding ways to make afterschooling part of your family time will help.



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