teaching tips blog


Aug 18, 2014

Showcasing Interests, Abilities, and Activities

Carol Becker

As I look back on my homeschooling years, it amazes me just how God directed our path. In my son’s 8th grade year, I wanted to prepare him to attend the public high school, so I signed him up for two outside classes. As my husband had played on his high school basketball team, he knew how important this could be for our son, so we also signed up our teen for winter basketball, which a local homeschool organization offered. Our son enjoyed being part of the team, and this pleased my husband.  

As wonderfully partial as we are about our son, we soon realized that he was not the next Michael Jordan, so this homeschool team, which competed against private schools and other homeschool teams, was just the right level for him. This spark ignited an idea that God used mightily. After the basketball season ended, my husband took me to dinner to ask me to homeschool our son through high school. This truly floored me because my husband had often reminded me that our teen’s homeschool years would end when he graduated from middle school. God does indeed lead us in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform! At dinner, my husband reasoned that playing on a high school team was important enough that we should tailor our choice of a high school to make that a reality. My husband saw this team as the final piece necessary for our son to finish his high school years at home. On the HSLDA website, there are homeschool organizations listed by state. Look them over and consider contacting them to become part of a local homeschooling community.

During the basketball season, I kept track of the team’s game schedule and practice times. Later, I wrote a professional description of the basketball program which summarized practice hours, game schedule, and the win/loss record. I approached the coaches about giving a signed copy to each team member. At the season’s end during the team party, the coach and assistant coach signed each document with jovial ceremony, and they congratulated team members as they received their papers. I also prepared a volunteer record for the wonderful teenage girl who had entered scoring records at each game. Because my son already had plenty of physical education hours due to his running and weight lifting schedule, I put this information on his extra-curricular activity sheet.

I used this same technique with my daughter’s community band and trumpet performances. I kept track of practice hours and performances. I printed up the music played at performances and her recitals in a professional manner. When I approached her band director and trumpet instructor, they were both quite interested in signing my forms that recognized my daughter’s skills and achievements. 

Consider doing the same for your teens. Create professional documents that demonstrate your teen's efforts and abilities. Then ask coaches, piano teachers, voice instructors, art teachers, directors, dance teachers, drama coaches, and others to sign these documents. You can decide whether to use them for elective course descriptions or extra curricular activities.  Remember that much of the college application is an opportunity to showcase extra-curricular activities, and homeschoolers have a unique opportunity to showcase unusual activities that separate them from the crowd. Students who volunteer in the community, at church, or on mission trips should consider the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Students interested in taking on a prestigious challenge should look at completing  the Congressional Award.  College Board confirms that college admissions officers consider extra-curricular activity to count significantly in the college acceptance process. Investigate these options and make the most of your teen's interests, abilities and activities!