Sunday, September 14, 2008

Extra Activities, Helping or Hindering? - Heart of the Matter Online Meme

Extracurriculars - how many, which ones, when, where? These are questions that almost every homeschooling family has to grapple with. Here's how we have dealt with them.

We are big believers in extracurricular activities. Both of my kids are outgoing and love to be with other people, so we try to accomodate that as much as possible. That has to be tempered, though, with other considerations. With my migraines, I can't take the kids everywhere every day. We live in a small town with few opportunities, so we have to consider the time and cost of driving. I try to encourage some diverse activities, but yet give the kids the chance to stick with something long enough to become proficient.

Ga'hoole Girl has been taking piano lessons since she was four years old. She currently takes lessons at Lawrence University Academy of Music. We chose to have her lessons there because she loves piano and has gotten to be pretty good. The lessons at Lawrence are a little more expensive (she's taking hour-long lessons) but her teacher is excellent. Wild Man took piano lessons until last year. He didn't want to take lessons this year. Since he's got a good grounding in music, I let him stop now.

Ga'hoole Girl started dance class at age 4. She took ballet and tap for the first several years. Last year was the first year that she didn't take ballet. Now she is taking Theater Dance and Tap. Wild Man is in his third year of dance class and is taking jazz. I wanted him to take either piano or dance because it helps with his dyslexia. He chose the dance.

Athletics are a big deal around here. Ga'hoole Girl played soccer, tee ball, basketball, and softball over the years. She finally decided at about age 9, though, that she doesn't really like the competitiveness of sports. Wild Man is a different story - he loves to compete. He plays baseball now, but he did play soccer a few years ago. He also takes swimming lessons during the summer.

We also do field trips to art galleries and museums as they come up. Ga'hoole Girl goes to the Junior High group at church. Wild Man does dance this year instead of AWANA, although he goes to pretty much every other church activity that he can. The kids used to be in 4H and Ga'hoole Girl used to take an art class at the public school, but we have phased out these activities in favor of piano, dance, baseball, and church.

Extracurricular activities are an important part of my kids' education. They learn the activity in which they are participating, but they also learn to follow directions and work in a group. And they have a lot of fun. I think we have a nice balance this year of activities that keep the kids busy that they like, but that don't overwhelm us.

Check out Heart of the Matter Online for more posts on this topic!

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