For some, the thought of adding “extras” to your homeschooling day sends shivers up your spine and makes you want to hide under the school table. You already have a full to do list and the idea of seeing more people is a lot to handle. For others, the problem with adding “extras” arises when you need to pick the best activities from all of the good activities. Surveying the opportunities excites you but it is hard to narrow down the choices.
What are homeschool extracurriculars?
In our homeschool, extracurricular activities are any additional activity other than textbook learning. Since we can extract learning from just about anything, extracurricular can be just about anything (especially when they are young). Tackling specific projects, even at home, can provide excellent chances of learning so I would consider those extracurricular also. But as my kids have gotten bigger and either needed to be exposed to topics or developed interests in certain things, extracurriculars have made their way into our schedule. We’ve tried different sports, music lessons and choirs, computer coding, chess class, and forestry/biology classes. Some of these have required pre-work or have homework afterwards while others are just a show up and learn type class.
Benefits of Extracurricular Activities for Homeschoolers
Extracurriculars have been good for us because it helps us set our weekly schedule; it gives us a rhythm to our otherwise repetitive week. I like having a steady pace because it requires us to get our schoolwork done in a timely fashion. We have also met some great friends while at our extra activities.
What to Consider When Choosing Homeschool Extracurricular Activities
Picking the extras has been and will continue to be a tough game of strategy for me. I have several things I need to take into consideration before I will agree to an activity.
- How much does it cost? How far away is it?
- What educational or developmental value will it add to our schooling situation?
- Is there something for all three of my kids to do or is this something for just one of them?
- Are the secondary skills they will glean from just participating?
- Does it relate to what we are already learning this year?
So, for instance, my kids play golf with the local First Tee Chapter. When I smash our golf up against my rubric, this is how I process whether we will keep participating…
- Golf is surprisingly very inexpensive with the program we use and my kids frequently get scholarships through the First Tee
- It is a 45-minute drive, but we listen to our audiobooks on the road (and most things are 30+ minutes anyway for us)
- Golf adds physical fitness and specific skill development.
- All three kids can participate now that my youngest is 5.
- The First Tee teaches a list of core values that are essential (integrity, honesty, sportsmanship, respect, etc.) as well as the valuable skills of looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand after a lesson or match. Also, one of my kids wants to be a business owner and what better way to meet with clients than over a round of golf.)
- Since it is a sport, I can count it as PE.
If you are dreading the inevitable, know that it will be ok. Extracurricular activities add interest to our days and broaden our education. However, if you are like my youngest child and meet each day with the “who are we going to see today?” -type questions, carefully consider which are the very best ways to spend your time and resources. Remember to not over-extend yourself and your kids.
How have you navigated the murky and sometimes overwhelming waters of extracurricular activities for your homeschool? Have you also experienced seasons of bustling activity levels and slower paced days? How do you pick what the kids do outside of schoolwork?
Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.lindsaybanton.com.