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How Many Extracurricular Activities Homeschoolers Should Do-Part 3

This is Part 3 of a 3 part series on extracurricular activities. In Part 1 we talk about the ‘why’ and in Part 2 we talk about the ‘what‘ .

In Part 3 we are going to talk about the ‘when‘.

So far we have figured out our why and narrowed down which activities we want our kids to participate in. Now the big question is…when do we find time for these activities?

I can’t make you a customized schedule, but I have 5 tips that I believe will help make your busy schedule more manageable.

Tip #1 Look for “Homeschool Classes”

The first thing you’ll want to do is search in your area for homeschool classes that may be offered for the activity you’re looking for. Homeschooling is becoming more popular and many businesses are seeing the benefit of offering homeschool classes during the non-peak times. So you may find a karate class for homeschoolers at 10am, or a homeschool art class at 1pm.

Finding classes offered at these times helps to spread out your traveling and reduce the rushing to back-to-back activities in the evening.

Tip #2 Maximize Downtime for Everyone Else

The second tip is to make good use of the time spent at activities. In other words if you have more than one kid and you all have to go to your daughter’s dance class, have the other kids bring something productive to work on.

Who says your kids have to complete all of their schoolwork before leaving the house? There may be some school tasks that you need them to do at home so they can really focus, but not everything will fall into that category. Have them bring a book or a couple of worksheets.

This goes for you too. Sometimes I bring my laptop and work on blog posts. Or sometimes I’ll do research on my phone or answer emails. Another thing that I started doing once my kids got old enough that I could drop them off and not have to stay the entire time at an activity was to use that time to do my shopping. Really just try to be creative with how you use that time. Just because your kids have activities all evening doesn’t mean you have to lose 3 hours of your day.

Tip #3 Carpool

My third tip is carpooling. You may go into an activity already knowing a family or two, but maybe not. Either way if you take your child to karate classes 2 days a week every week it won’t take you very long to get to know some other parents. Strike up a conversation, get to know some families, and then start discussing mutually beneficial arrangements.

Tip #4 Organize Your Kids’ Gear

My fourth tip is to keep gear organized. Nothing will kill your time and energy faster than running around the house at the last minute every time you need to leave the house looking for a lost shoe or belt or leotard. I’ve found the easiest way for us is to have a cube storage organizer near our front door like this one. Each bin is labeled with the activity and when we get home their gear goes straight into the bin. If you don’t let their stuff get past the entry area it won’t get lost.  It’s always right there when it’s time to leave and has saved us so many headaches since we started using it.

Tip #5 Write Down Your Schedule

And finally, write down your schedule. Keep your activity schedule written down in a place you can see it easily and will remember to look at it every day. It’s even better if it’s in a place where your kids can see it so they know what to expect.

Incorporate as many of these tips as you can into your day and it will help keep your activity schedule manageable. The most important thing to remember is to not sacrifice your sanity or your family’s mental, physical, or spiritual health in exchange for more activities. Always keep your priorities in mind while planning and don’t be afraid to say no sometimes. Your kids will thank you.

 

I hope this series has been helpful.  Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below.

How Many Extracurricular Activities Homeschoolers Should Do-Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3 part series on extracurricular activities. In Part 1 we talk about the ‘why’ and in Part 3 we talk about the ‘when‘.

In part 2 we are going to talk about the ‘what‘ of extracurricular activities. What kinds of extracurricular activities homeschoolers can do?

I like to break this down into 3 main categories: Artistic, Sports, and Clubs/Organizations.  I try to have my kids in at least one activity from each of these categories.  I feel that if children participate in each of these categories they will gain a wide range of skills and benefits that will prepare them for the future.

Here are the categories, why I think they’re important, and lists of specific ideas.

Artistic

My second year of college I took a class called Art for children. It was about helping children to communicate their emotions through art. Ever since then I have believed that every child should have some form of artistic outlet.

The world can be a big, scary place to children. As much as we may try to shelter them from pain and scary things, they are still going to get hurt by something or come across situations that they don’t understand. And I’m not even talking about severe things like abuse. Maybe someone in Sunday School was picking on your daughter because of the color of her hair. Or maybe your son overheard you talking to someone on the phone and is now afraid of that person dying because he doesn’t get sarcasm.

The problem comes when even though these are relatively minor issues, a child doesn’t have the words to communicate their thoughts or concerns or fears.   But that’s where art is so beautiful and so helpful. It can help children express themselves in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. And it can help them express their emotions in constructive ways.

So what are the options when it comes to art and how do you decide what’s best for your child?

The obvious ones are some form of painting or drawing and music. When it comes to these I would encourage you to take some time and let your child explore the options. For young children you’ll mostly find art classes that include a variety of activities. So instead of just a drawing class these classes will teach a little bit of drawing, painting, pottery, etc. These classes are great because they introduce so many things and your child can decide what they like best and want to focus on.

It can be a little tougher with music to let your child experience a lot of different instruments but it is possible. Some music schools will have an “instrument petting zoo” near the beginning of the year in order to let kids choose what they want to play. But another way to help narrow it down is to let them listen to different instruments being played. You can find a lot of videos for this on youtube like this one here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eetAWZTvOQ0

The reason I suggest this is because that’s how my son decided he wanted to play the violin. I thought for sure he was going to go straight for the piano but instead he went straight for the violin. When I asked him why, he said he just really liked the way it sounded.

But if your child isn’t into either art or music there are many other options: writing, photography, theater, cinematography, dance, anything where a child can use their imagination to create something.

Sports (Team and Individual)

Team Sports

Team sports are very popular and most of us have played some team sport at some point in our lives. I believe it’s especially important for children to participate in some level in team sports because there are so many skills they can learn. Team sports can help to build social skills, teamwork, confidence, and character.

The nice thing about team sports is that there are usually a lot of inexpensive options and you can sign your child up for one season and see how it goes.

Here are a few places you can look at for local leagues near you. If these don’t work out for you start asking around and see if any of your friends or acquaintances have the inside scoop for your area.

http://www.ymca.net/

https://www.i9sports.com/

http://www.upward.org/find-a-place-to-play

Individual Sport

Individual sports are another great way to get kids active and learn some life skills. Like team sports kids will gain a variety of physical benefits. But they will also gain a higher sense of individuality, self-confidence, and learn more about what their potential is.

The choice between a team sport or an individual sport will depend a lot on what kind of person your child is. Some kids thrive in a group and others do better when they can go at their own pace.

Individual sports are also great for children with special needs such as autism or ADHD. Their training can be tailored to meet their needs. Check out this article for more on this.

The one downside to individual sports is they tend to be more expensive than team sports. But there are also a ton of options, such as: fencing, bowling, running, swimming, racquetball, tennis, wrestling, gymnastics, karate, dance, ice skating, bicycling, surfing, motocross, archery, horseback riding, diving, golf, rollerblading, snow skiing, water skiing.

Clubs/Organizations

Clubs and Organizations are a great way for kids to socialize and learn a variety of life skills. When we talk about clubs and organizations most people automatically think of Boy/Girl Scouts and 4-H. While those may be the most popular they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to options.

Here is a list with links to as many clubs and organizations for kids that I was able to uncover:

Scouting

Frontier Girls

American Heritage Girls

Trail life, USA

Royal Rangers

M-Pact

Spiral Scouts

Campfire, USA

Boy Scouts of America

Girl Scouts of America

Military

Civil Air Patrol

JROTC

Political

Generation Joshua

 

Farming

Future Farmers of America

4-H

 

Religious

AWANA

Christian Service Brigade

Moriya

 

Citizenship

National Junior Firefighter

Junior Police Academy Search in you local area

 

STEM

First Lego League

This list is by no means exhaustive. If you know of something I missed please leave a comment and let me know so I can add it to the list.

 

I hope that you have found this helpful and that you are able to use these lists to think outside the box and find some fun activities.  In Part 3 of this series we will go over how to fit your newfound activities into your schedule so that they don’t overwhelm you. Your kids will thank you.