after-school

two now in school.
i resist the alluring thought that someone else is teaching them and i've got a few hours to myself. or at least a concentrated run to target.
no. two now in school.
what will i do to be prepared to receive them after school?
David & Kelli Pritchard in their book, Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School, opened my eyes to see that we, as parents are our children's number one teachers.
 
"We will never give up that responsibility or privilege - even though they spend 30 hours a week in somebody else's classroom. We instruct our kids every day. We look for the teachable moments that intersect with what they are experiencing outside our home." 
we value our school and our teachers and our children's education.
that's why after-school is so crucial.
here's how we do after-school...
we allow the kids to unwind after the day
either on the play yard at school or running out some energy at home.
on the way home, we share high low.
what was your high for the day? 
(favorite, happiest, best)
what was your low for the day?
 (sad, least favorite, confusing, struggle)
then when we're home, it's this:
empty backpacks
wash hands
enjoy snack
homework/supplement/additional growth in the kitchen
reading outside or in a comfy spot
chore (only twice a week)
free play
why such structure? they had school then energy-releasing play. now structure then free play. [rainy days that cloud away outside play, we will do free play first when we get home]

here's how we supplement or give additional growth:
grateful journals
sporadically list a few things they're grateful for.
our preschooler voices them and i write.
write letters to family and friends
elijah emails our sponsored children in rwanda and uganda. when people write the boys, the boys write back. postcards to someone they have been thinking about. thank you's for birthday presents, playdates, or a kind deed.
additional math tools
flashcards, games, worksheets.
areas of struggle.
needing more of a challenge.
just a small nudge.
chapter books at their reading level
i've heard it said if a child can't read 5 or more words per page, the book is too difficult for them. i tap into their love of sports and get biographies on role model athletes. books that align with our values and reinforce character building.

cooking in the kitchen elijah wants to be in the kitchen with me. we schedule one meal a week for him to help me out. he learns measurements, time, following directions. plus gets the satisfaction of completing something so yummy.
art projects give sam permission to raid the recycling bin. let the creativity flow. never enough time at school. a corner in our garage is his to keep working and creating.

my goal is to be in the kitchen while the kids are in the kitchen. i might be emptying the dishwasher or prepping dinner, but i'm there for questions or learning more about their day. when they leave the kitchen for reading then free play, i give myself permission to leave the kitchen. this intentional step keeps chaos away and every paper, assignment where it needs to be.

we're not in extra-curricular activities during this season of life. we will do baseball in the spring. that will shift after-school. strengthening our family unit from inside the home out is key.

how do you do after-school? what works well for your family?

join me this week as i let you in on the dirty of our chores and our philosophy that "everything has a home."