Where do you start? How do you do it? Here’s a little advice that’s based on my experience “afterschooling” my son for a little more than a year.
Make it fun.
The activities you do will go over better if your child thinks they are playing. This is why so many of the things we do are games and puzzles. Use the things he/she loves (e.g. LEGOs, fairy tales, movie characters, art, fashion, dinosaurs) as a way to teach challenging subjects.
Discover how your child learns.
Sounds easy, right? It’s not. My son is a kinesthetic learner. He learns by doing, not listening. Think about the school activities your child enjoys most – is he/she up and active (moving around), reading, or building, or are they theatrical, tied to music (that’s how we taught our kids the ABCs after all), etc. When I worked with my son in the preschool years, we used a workbook; he hated it. (Some kids LOVE that kind of thing, though.)
Make it a routine.
The more consistent you are, the less resistance you’ll get. My son expects to work together after school and is disappointed if I don’t make the time for it now.
Ease into it.
No one likes radical and abrupt change – kids or adults. If it’s difficult to transition from afterschool time with friends, involve them. Have your son shoot hoops with his buddies and keep score. Pull out a board game (e.g. Operation is amazing for fine-motor skills, Cranium is good for reinforcing simple shapes, and the card game War is awesome for working on greater than/less than).
Use free resources.
The internet and the local library are your friends. If you want to do extra work at home to support what he/she is doing in the classroom, ask your child’s teacher for ideas.
Keep it short.
Your child has been at school all day. Just like when you get home from a long day at work, you want to veg out to decompress, your child is feeling the same way. Don’t plan activities that take hours. I try to limit our lessons to around 30 minutes. If it warrants more time, I split it into two sessions and finish it tomorrow. Have all the supplies and resources ready for your child.
I don’t have a curriculum. Stuff my son’s teacher tells me he needs extra practice on, things that spark an interest in him, a book I find, or idea shared by a fellow blogger inspire what we do. There’s no plan beyond the coming week. And that works for us.