by Mary Elizabeth
Extracurricular activities for homeschoolers may mean something a bit different than it does in a school setting.
It’s easiest to conceive of extracurricular as anything outside the teaching that you do and specific academic courses that you’ve covered with distance learning or school attendance options.
There are a variety of ways to get started with extracurricular activities at a homeschool, depending on your homeschool’s situation. A good first step is to identify the kinds of extracurricular activities that would be desired.
Types of Extracurricular Activities For Homeschools
Homeschoolers often choose extracurricular activities to supplement existing academic activities without duplicating them, fill in perceived gaps in the program, or meet a special interest or need for a particular student. So, you’ll want to begin by thinking about your children and the special interests they have as well as how experiences outside of your homeschool could extend or enhance their learning experience.
Field trips can be individual, but are often group activities in which each student picks up what is appropriate for his or her level of development. Field trips can show a side of things that isn’t revealed in books, or even in videos and educational television specials. Homeschooled students often can interact with whatever it is they’re encountering. Field trips can be as simple as a trip to the post office or as complex as a cross-country trip to Washington, D.C. to see government in action. In between there are farms, museums, planetariums, concerts, performances, parks, botanical gardens, court houses, and sporting events.
Valuable Resources for Homeschoolers
Don’t forget your local library, where you may find much more than books. Libraries often have story hours, show movies, and guest speakers, and often sponsor summer reading programs. Local newspapers often carry the schedule of events. In some areas, roving bookmobiles bring the library to you, so check for this option as well.
The local park and recreation department can be another valuable source for your homeschool. Often offering a variety of activities, lessons, and team opportunities, the park and recreation department may have a quarterly bulletin or an on-line presence where you can find out about offerings.
Gyms and athletic clubs may offer group or family memberships that allow you to add swimming, tennis, or climbing to your homeschool schedule. Check with individual organizations for more information.
Lessons and Activities for Homeschoolers
Choosing outside lessons and activities can help you personalize curriculum and bolster areas in which you don’t have the expertise or equipment, etc. Here is a categorized list of some extracurricular activities that are popular and valuable for homeschoolers, some available privately, and some from organizations:
- Musical instrument lessons
- Singing lessons
- Joining a local children’s choir
- 2-D and 3-D art classes
- Tap dance, ballet, jazz dance classes
- Horseback riding
- Skiing (cross country or alpine)
- Membership on local park and recreation teams
- Foreign language lessons
- Volunteer work
- Community theatre
Connecting with Schools
In some states, Maine being an example, homeschooled students are eligible by law to try out for / participate in (depending on the activity) local public school activities if they meet eligibility requirements. Check with your state education department for more information. Private schools, on an individual basis may also have an interest in creating connections with homeschool students. In either case, this can open a wide range of interesting possibilities, often including at least some of the following:
Writing and Communication
Foreign Language Clubs
Needlework (cross-stitch, knitting)
There are also organizations that create environments for competition in a variety of areas. Here is a list of some with a national presence:
Math and Science
American Computer Science League
National Science bowl
Social Science and Community
National Mock Election
Writing and Communication
Idea of America Writing Contest
Scripps National Spelling Bee
National Academic Quiz Tournaments
Odyssey of the Mind
Extra-Curricular Activities For Homeschoolers Sources:
Public School Offerings for Homeschool Students:
- acsl.org/ scied.science.doe.gov/nsb