Project-Based Afterschooling

I’ve just had a bit of a revelation.

I am very guilty of being an all-or-nothing type of thinker, type of person. When my sweetie lost his job this past June, I went immediately from full-time homeschooling Mom, to job-seeking, basically full-blown Working Mom, in my attitude and the way my attention and time were being spent. That at a time when we actually had two parents at home, not just one! But the environment had changed. My MO had changed: it was now my prerogative to find work, and then do said work,  not look after the kids in the all-consuming way that I had been doing for six years.

And so it has gone. I found my new job in August, we took a little holiday, and then in September I started work and the kids went to school. Working Mom mode has reigned.

I drop them off at school, and we all do our jobs, mine at work and theirs at school, for six hours. Then I pick them up, and we head home, decompress, make dinner, and then try to enjoy some family time before bedtime.

My job is good. The kids are good. Life is good! We are very blessed. But the last few weeks I have been feeling very sad about letting go of our homeschooling life. I miss all that expanse of time spent together. I miss knowing the details of all of their stories–because I was there too! But most of all, I think I’ve been missing my role in their lives as guide and conductor, and mentor.

Meanwhile, while we have been spending that little bit of time between dinner and bed together as a family, there has been something a bit forced about it. Board games just aren’t feeling very *fun*, yet we all have the desire to spend the time really *being* together, not just watching a show.

So here are the entry points: me missing homeschooling and guiding the kids, a lacklustre “family time” routine, and a slightly neglected project space . . .

Which has led me to the (maybe not so) remarkable plan to begin: Project-Based Afterschooling!

Let me begin by saying that I have no desire to cram more knowledge into my kids’ heads, or to add stress to their lives, or make them overachievers or anything like that. This is coming from memories of my own childhood and tallying up all the skills I learned and all the projects I undertook, all on my own. Of course, it was in the days before iPads and streaming TV and handheld video games, the eighties my friends! I’m sure my kids would get up to all sorts of interesting stuff all on their own, but I have this desire to SHARE that stuff with them. And to nudge our lifestyle to support my own and my partner’s creative work. To celebrate our making, together as a family.

And to give us something to do together that doesn’t involve another round of Monopoly Party.

So here’s the plan:

  • Dust off my copy of Project-Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert (a brilliant, amazing book that details exactly everything I believe education should be!)
  • Re-read my notes from Lori’s Master Class
  • be like a ninja and don’t tell the kids what I’m planning
  • clean up the project area and slowly start re-stocking with exciting materials
  • dedicate my full attention to the kitchen table area during “family time”
  • start journaling and photographing their projects, and start posting stuff on my tumblr feed again
  • celebrate the best of both worlds: doing awesome projects together as a family and basking in all the creative energy that comes out of that, while making money, and letting someone else take care of the academics.

I am sure I will update you on how this goes! But for now, I am excited–and feel like I’ve added some shades of grey to my previously black-or-white world.



4 thoughts on “Project-Based Afterschooling

    1. Thanks Cara! I’ll definitely post an update once I have some material 🙂 And I’d love to hear how you make it work in your family too!

  1. When we left BC this summer, we did not find the homeschooling support or funding in ON as we did in BC. That, and needing more income to prepare to move to a more expensive city in 2 years, led to the kids going back to school and me making some money. But, I have not let go of the homeschool attitude. We read history as bedime stories (Story of the World, Christian viewpoint), we read English (they are F.I.), and I am volunteering in their classes and know all the people in their class and all their material they are learning. (I am self-employed and work my schedule around fam.) But, unlike you Colleen, in letting go of more academia, I am continuing with the math program they were on because it is so aweseme, I don’t want them learning core math concepts any other way. I am thankful that they go along with it, and I still get to do some ‘homeschooling’ with them. 🙂

    1. I’ve heard about the magic of BC homeschooling . . . I can imagine it would be hard to go from that to Ontario. But it sounds like you are working hard to create the family culture that really feels right to you–I applaud that! 🙂

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