A guest blog series by Stephanie George
I am not really sure why people are concerned that home school students don’t socialize or make outside connections, when the exact opposite is the truth. Most home school families have more options than they can manage and have to say no to activities on a regular basis to keep balance in their lives.
Home School Co-ops
When my oldest was in 8th grade, we joined a home school cooperative where parents teach subjects based on their skill sets and degrees in a classroom setting. Most co-ops meet one or two days per week for instruction and then complete the work at home on the rest of the days. I felt like it was important that at that age my son should learn to be accountable to someone besides me as a teacher, since that is what college would be like. I began teaching there the same year, so my other two younger children attended from earlier grades through high school.
Home school co-ops often have sports teams, Beta Club, Service Clubs, and music instruction available, which provide many opportunities for your children to do the things they love with their friends.
Theatre and Arts
If your child loves acting, performing and the arts, there is no shortage of outlets for this love of the creative. Children’s Theatre, Children’s Orchestras and many colleges have classes and camps for these types of activities.
Not only do many home school co-ops have sports teams available for students, but some states, mine included, allow home school students to try out for the sports teams in their districts. For my children, sports was their extracurricular love. All three of my children played recreational sports as young children, and then continued to play organized sports throughout high school. My oldest son played college baseball for four years. My second son played basketball for the local high school, and then went on to play in college. And, my daughter played basketball for the local high school for three years.
Volunteering at the hospital is an exceptional way for a child to experience first hand whether a medical career suits him. Many students have a heart for the underprivileged and want to volunteer at the Boys and Girls Clubs as tutors, mentors and friends. Even helping to grow a community garden can be a way to give back to the community.
Political Groups Volunteers
Many students love becoming involved in local and state politics as a volunteer. I have never seen a political group who was not thrilled to have home school students join to serve, as they have flexible schedules and tend to be serious about their involvement. This can frequently lead to running for office after college for many students.
A very flexible schedule can allow many home school families to travel during the school year. Rates are cheaper and many of the experiences of traveling to other states and countries can easily be turned into something educational. A little bit of planning allows you as the teacher to incorporate these experiences into your curriculum.
There are debate clubs for those who love to analyze and use logic in arguments. Engineering minded students can join robotics clubs which compete at a national level. And if there is not a group doing something of interest to your child, you can always start one!
sChoosing to home school is not something to be taken lightly, and it is certainly not for everyone. I know some families who have a child in public or private school, while home schooling the rest. Many families regroup at the end of an instructional year to decide if home school is the way to go for the next year. As a parent, you must recognize that home school may not be appropriate for every one of your children. But, for those who decide to walk this road less traveled, it can be an enriching, challenging, rewarding path. Remember, you are not tasked with teaching every academic concept that exist, but rather creating life-long learners who can access information to learn limitless new things.