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.
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 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.
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 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:
Junior Police Academy Search in you local area
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.