Logo Homeschool World ® Official Web Site of Practical Homeschooling Magazine Practical Homeschooling Magazine
Practical Homeschooling® :

Keeping It Together: Getting a Handle on Outside Activities

By Rhonda Barfield
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #100, 2011.

Managing outside activities so that they enhance, but don't interfere with homeschool

   Pin It

Rhonda Barfield

Every August, I used to feel uneasy about the upcoming school year’s extracurricular activities. What if I failed to enroll our children in something really important that might propel them toward a fulfilling career? Maybe they wouldn’t get enough exercise if we avoided organized sports teams. Maybe Boy Scouts and speech class and ballet and youth group might prove essential to their well-being. How was I to decide on the best outside-homeschool activities?

Through 20 years of homeschooling, I discovered some practical helps.

I learned to look for activities that involved everyone. When our four kids were young, I helped start a monthly co-op of several families who met for seasonal play/school dates, mostly with babies, preschoolers, and young children. Later, we participated in clubs geared toward elementary and middle school that also included little ones.

A few years later, we joined a large homeschool fine arts center that held classes for all ages every Thursday. While Eric played piano with an 8:15 a.m. chamber ensemble, Christian, Lisa, and Mary socialized and I helped set up a free “swap and shop” table. At 9:30, all four participated in skill-appropriate orchestras at the same time I taught a keyboard class. At 10:45, they sang in choirs while I accompanied. And in the afternoon, while I relaxed, they enjoyed drama classes. Activities like these, which involved all of us on the same day, saved me hours of driving and commitment.

When possible, we did it ourselves. I gave our four children their piano lessons and Michael offered basic art instruction. When Lisa was interested in dance, we checked out several library books and videos to see if she was serious about it before signing her up for expensive lessons. Christian and Lisa formed their own birding club. Michael started Christian and Mary on coin collecting and sometimes drove them to a coin store. We took their interests seriously, but eased into them before investing a lot of time and money.

Instead of heading in separate directions to participate in community service projects, we focused on our immediate family: my mother as she struggled with Alzheimer’s and my dad, deteriorating into dementia. Since Grandma and Grandpa lived three hours northeast of us, this involved frequent family trips on weekends. We used those times to visit bird sanctuaries, playgrounds, parks, rivers, and other fun places, and our kids also learned how to care for elderly relatives. As we “did it ourselves,” we spent time together and grew closer.

We set limits. I once volunteered to head a children’s art show at our church, especially since I wanted to encourage my own children to enter. From the start, I made it clear that I’d get involved only as a one-woman organizer. This worked for a while. Then I started getting pressure from another parent to make the show more elaborate and involve her in planning it. I was able to refuse this direction because I knew it would take too much of my time.

That’s why, for many years, Michael and I made a rule of one outside individual activity per child. We considered the average time involved in, say, sports. When Eric played football for four years, we had to commit to two weekly, two-hour practices plus a weekend game that we all attended. If we’d multiplied that times four, I knew I’d find all my free time taken up by driving and waiting. For me, burnout would have been inevitable unless I’d set limits.

Throughout our homeschool journey, all four kids participated in several extracurriculars, some of them for several years. They didn’t do everything—who can? Still, our family enjoyed a well-balanced mix of academics and outside activities. By following a few guidelines, we found it possible to provide a rich environment for outside-of-school learning and still keep our sanity.

Free Email Newsletter!
Sign up to receive our free email newsletter, and up to three special offers from homeschool providers every week.

Popular Articles

Saxon Math: Facts vs. Rumors

Give Yourself a "CLEP Scholarship"

Phonics the Montessori Way

The Benefits of Debate

What We Can Learn from the Homeschooled 2002 National Geography Bee Winners

The Charlotte Mason Method

Whole-Language Boondoggle

Laptop Homeschool

The Gift of a Mentor

Top Tips for Teaching Toddlers

Myth of the Teenager

Joyce Swann's Homeschool Tips

Bears in the House

The Equal Sign - Symbol, Name, Meaning

The Charlotte Mason Approach to Poetry

Critical Thinking and Logic

Interview with John Taylor Gatto

Art Appreciation the Charlotte Mason Way

A Homeschooler Wins the Heisman

Teaching Blends

AP Courses At Home

How to Win the Geography Bee

University Model Schools

Narration Beats Tests

Montessori Math

Classical Education

The History of Public Education

Teach Your Children to Work

How to "Bee" a Spelling Success

Start a Nature Notebook

Top Jobs for the College Graduate

Shakespeare Camp

Advanced Math: Trig, PreCalc, and more!

Montessori Language Arts at Home, Part 1

Columbus and the Flat Earth...

The Benefits of Cursive Writing

Getting Organized Part 3

Who Needs the Prom?

I Was an Accelerated Child

Combining Work and Homeschool

Getting Organized Part 1 - Tips & Tricks

Why the Internet will Never Replace Books

What Does My Preschooler Need to Know?

Character Matters for Kids

Can Homeschoolers Participate In Public School Programs?

Patriarchy, Meet Matriarchy

A Reason for Reading

Discover Your Child's Learning Style

Don't Give Up on Your Late Bloomers

Getting Started in Homeschooling: The First Ten Steps

          
Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
Copyright ©1993-2022 Home Life, Inc.