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8/19/2010 11:04:44 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter--August 2010

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HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter
August 2010--Extracurricular Activities
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Dear Friends,

As the new school year approaches, "extra" opportunities for
experiences beyond our typical homeschooling abound. According to
Rachel Gathercole, http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8875 homeschool
mom of three and author of "The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social
Benefits of Homeschooling,"

"Homeschoolers on the whole are out in the real world, learning from
their communities, socializing with other families and homeschool
groups; they play in parks with friends; they go to each other's
houses; they have sleepovers; they organize classes together. One
study revealed that homeschoolers engage in an average of at least
five outside activities per week. ...[H]omeschoolers do the same kinds
of social things that school-going children do like Scouts, 4-H,
church groups, dance classes in the community, martial arts, playing
with neighbors. Most homeschoolers say that they actually have fuller
social lives and more time with friends than they ever did when they
were in school."

The options can be overwhelming--how is a parent to choose?

The Early Learner: Preschool through Primary Grades:

What does your child enjoy doing? An art or music or creative movement
class might be a great outlet and inspiration.

How much of a time commitment is it? Start with a short-term activity
such as library craft day or the monthly kid's project day at the home
improvement store--activities your child can enjoy if it's a good day,
but if today hasn't been such a great day, you can skip it and just go
next time.

What is the focus of the class? At this age, you're looking for
low-pressure activities to let kids explore their options, get out
some energy, learn some new basic skills, and develop godly character.

Don't over-commit or over-stimulate your early learner. Keep your
family's schedule in mind. Is that class at a convenient time, or is
it going to disrupt nap routine or mealtime or bedtime? Not all kids
are ready for this level of outside commitment, so just use your
judgment and don't feel pressured. Waiting a few years generally won't
stunt her progress if she is truly gifted in, say, music or dance. But
if your child is ready to step out, then with the right focus, a well
chosen, low-pressure extracurricular activity can complement her
cognitive learning.


Upper Elementary through Junior High

By about fourth grade, your child may have developed more specific
interests. Children of this age often enjoy clubs, co-ops, and
organized sports (team or individual); check with your local and state
support networks for opportunities such as debate teams, quiz teams,
scouting, sports, music lessons and enrichment classes, 4-H, and more.

Besides the standard extracurricular activities, volunteering can help
your child develop vocational skills, character, compassion, and
maturity. Billie Jo Youmans suggests that with some planning, your
student's volunteer work can become service learning
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8876 . "An interest in teaching
could be fed by serving as a tutor or a childcare worker. An animal
lover might seek to serve at a shelter or a zoo. A budding cook would
do well to explore opportunities at a soup kitchen or senior center. A
gardener could bless some seniors with a container gardening project."

This can also be a fun, low-pressure time to explore entrepreneurial
ventures. Linda Raasch of bizkidz.com encouraged her four children to
open lemonade stands http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8877 before
they even reached 10 years of age, and their interests (and income!)
blossomed from there.

Keep in mind the same questions that you asked in the early years.
While the case can be made for older students learning to stick with
something through the semester, they can also learn to evaluate the
time commitment and purpose of activities, prioritize, and find the
value in building some margin into their schedules.


Consider the Impact on the Family

Keep the family's schedule in mind. Some families allow each child to
choose one activity each semester or season; in a larger family, you
might seek an activity in which all the family can participate at the
same time, even if at different levels. For example, we attended
softball practice two afternoons each spring week as a family: Several
girls played on the various homeschool teams, mom served as a team
mom, and the non-softball ballerina daughter babysat coaches' children
at the playground during practice and games.

Can an activity be accomplished in the afternoon, thereby minimizing
the effect on family dinnertime? If you end up with a "run-around"
day, you might plan light suppers for that day and let all the family
cooperate in food prep.


Know the Leadership

We may delegate our authority to another adult to lead our child, but
the responsibility remains ours to safeguard our children's hearts,
minds, and physical well-being. (Many a homeschool parent has been
"inspired" to lead or assist in a troop, co-op class, or club so she
knows her child is in a safe, healthy group environment.)


Consider the Purpose of Each Activity

In Luke 2:52, we read, "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor
with God and man." (NIV, emphasis added) What progress would you like
your child to make http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8878 in those
four areas this year?

This is a good opportunity to evaluate outside activities and decide
how the family's time will be most wisely spent. Are those outside
activities helping to meet your goals? Could some of those activities
be saved for another time, or dropped altogether? Is this the season
of life for a particular activity?

"Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."
(Ephesians 5:15-17)

Ask God for wisdom in choosing activities that build in your child the
skills and characteristics He wants to develop.

Blessings,
Vicki

Vicki Bentley
Early Years coordinator
www.hslda.org/earlyyears

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under
the heaven."
--Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

Additional Resources

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose
that prevails."
-- Proverbs 19:21

"Beyond Academics" by Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8879

"Extracurricular Activities: How Do I Choose?" by Pam Eason, "The Old
Schoolhouse"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8880

"Extracurricular Activities for Homeschoolers"
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8881

Extracurricular possibilities include:
Field trips
Reading clubs
Library activities
Team sports
Generation Joshua http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8882
YMCA or recreational centers
Chess club http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8883
Yearbook club
Drama
Instrumental music
Kids with Purpose clubs http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8884
Choral music
Art classes
Robotics http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8885
Computer clubs
Church clubs (such as AWANA)
Math competitions http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8886
Spelling bee http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8887
Geography bee http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8888
Bible Bee http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8889
American Heritage Girls http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8890
Boy Scouts http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8891
Pioneer Clubs http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8892
4-H http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8893
Civil Air Patrol http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8894
Keepers of the Faith clubs http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8895
Foreign language clubs
Other special interests


For homeschool dads: Do you ever wonder what role you play when it
seems like your wife does most of the actual teaching? On this week's
Home School Heartbeat, host Mike Farris shares how you can support
your wife at the start of the new school year.
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=8896
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