Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Extracurricular Activities - the Possibilities are Endless!

The flexibility of homeschooling (and the lack of homework) makes finding time for extracurricular activities fairly easy. You may ask yourself where to start--or if you’re like me, where to stop! The possibilities are endless! Because we can participate in activities during the hours when traditional schools are in session, we are often invited to special homeschool classes at discounted rates. Before diving right in to everything your homeschooling friends are doing, you’ll want to consider activities that will explore and expand your children’s talents and interests, as well as those activities that involve serving the Lord.
1st place winner in the teen
division and overall R&B 
genre winner  in a local vocal 
competition in 2006

For children interested in fine arts, you can find private or class lessons for instruments, voice, or art. You might also find worship dance classes or opportunities to participate in dramatic productions. Locally, we have everything from piano to harp lessons! You may even find a homeschool choir or voice class. In the realm of art, there are also private lessons and group classes in everything from drawing and painting to working with clay. We have several children’s theaters locally that enjoy working with homeschooled students. Last of all, there may be art clubs that your child could join. We spent a number of year in homeschool 4H clubs that provided competition and performance opportunities for my kids.

If your student adores animals, there are stables that offer riding classes. Many areas have 4-H clubs that pertain to animals. If not, you could always volunteer to start one! I knew a 12-year-old homeschooled student who volunteered at a veterinarian clinic, helping care for the pets. Zoos often have classes and field trips for groups of homeschooled students.

Do you have a child who is fascinated by science? You may find a science center nearby. You may find science-oriented classes and clubs. There are even Lego robotic clubs! Our local science center accepts students as volunteers. We’ve known several homeschoolers who worked there.

Is your child a sports enthusiast? You may have time to try out a number of different sports - swimming, tae kwon do, gymnastics, roller or ice skating, basketball, baseball, football, and soccer. Some teams promote Christianity and sportsmanship, while others are focused on competition. Sometimes you will find leagues specifically for homeschoolers. At other times, you may opt for a church team or a community league. Also, the local YMCA may have an affordable homeschool p.e. program; if not, they may be open to starting one! Just because our children aren’t in traditional school doesn’t mean they are doomed to miss out on athletics.

There are many kinds of clubs for children, and many of those will offer leadership opportunities. If your child exhibits leadership qualities, he or she may benefit from participation in a youth club. My own children were each elected as both vice president and club photographer in the last three years of their membership in 4-H. They also run for offices that they didn’t win. Even that can be a learning experience.

Perhaps you want your children to learn the blessings of service. Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to go where you are needed, when you are needed! You have organizations like Meals on Wheels, rescue missions, soup kitchens, nursing homes, foster care for abandoned pets, foster care for children, and much more. You might target individuals that need help, such as the elderly who may need help with lawn care or shopping, or a single parent who needs someone to babysit so that he or she can run errands or take a much-needed nap! Have your children memorize Matthew 25:40: “Then the King will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for Me’.” As they serve others, our children are serving our Lord.

There are ways you and your children could serve in your church as well. You could volunteer to clean the sanctuary, pick up trash around the building, pull weeds and/or plant flowers, mow grass, or even bake goodies for the staff! If they are old enough, your children may be able to help in the nursery, a children’s Sunday school class, or children’s church. Perhaps they could be involved in music for services, by either playing an instrument or singing in a choir. Now is a great time to sow seeds of service in their tender hearts.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure that your hearts are in it. A halfhearted effort can be worse than no effort at all. Don’t forget to leave time for studying! Don’t overwhelm your schedule with activities, as tempting as that is; be sure to include time to relax. Last of all, have fun as you travel down the adventurous homeschool highway.

Happy homeschooling!

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