Extracurricular activities are not only clubs or organizations that colleges look at to choose prospects for upcoming freshman classes but are often the most loved aspects of one’s educational journey. Traditional extracurricular activities include sports teams, drama club and student council, however the list of extracurricular activities accessible to today’s youth has grown exponentially in the past few years and colleges recognize this. A question parents often ask is, “which extracurriculars are best for my homeschooled child”? The answer to that is rarely simple but is definitely important.
Which Extracurriculars are Best for My Homeschooled Child?
Answering the following questions will help narrow down the options:
What does your child talk about the most?
Some children are naturally drawn to an activity and talk about it often. For example, a preteen who repeatedly speaks about animals is giving a clue that a good extracurricular activity for her may be something the involves animals, like 4-H or volunteering with the SPCA. An elementary schooler who continually asks when the rain will end so he can go out and hit some balls is someone who genuinely wants to play his sport and the answer may be as easy as enrolling him in the YMCA’s youth golf program. For those who are less talkative, however, paying attention to what they do when given free time can be as indicative as words. Would he rather kick a soccer ball or paint a picture? Does he tend to have his head in books, or would he rather play Minecraft? Did she put together the robot kit she received for Christmas or is it slowly being buried underneath a pile of old clothes? People of all ages do more when engaged in an activity they like, discovering a child’s preferences can narrow down the search for an extracurricular greatly.
Does your child have any natural talents emerging?
Although a few rare children are born prodigies at a given art, such as piano, most are not. Talent, however, can often be seen at a younger age and developed over time. Noticing what a child can naturally do at a level above his peers is an easy, although not definitive, indication. A dance instructor can notice the six-year-old with more grace and rhythm than the others. A guitar teacher can often hear when a child plays a melody with fluidity and ease the surpasses the level of training received to date. Some talents are not discovered in a traditional classroom setting, though. A child with a knack for culinary arts may be the one who breaks out the scratch ingredients and makes cupcakes for his friends when another would have simply gone for the box mix. Paying close attention to these subtleties can uncover much.
What is available through the school or local community?
Whether or not a child’s preference or talents are obvious, knowing what extracurricular activities are even available is very valuable. For a kid who does not flourish on an organized sports team but loves to be active, a local hiking group or recreation karate facility might be the perfect fit. For a child who is drawn to hours of playing Minecraft, there may be a local robotics club or a Code Ninjas franchise nearby. For the dancer who would never wear a tutu, be on the lookout for an Irish dancing troupe or hip-hop squad. Most towns, even very small ones, have online social media community groups where these opportunities can be found. If there isn’t a club already started, one can always be formed.
What is your monetary and time budget?
A reality parents must face is how much time and money can be devoted to a child’s extracurriculars. The time cost of an extracurricular is not just that of the child, but of the parents, too. The time requirement needed to bring the kid to and from an activity is an important consideration. Consider what will not be accomplished in the hours dedicated by the activity and make a decision on which is the priority. Take baseball for example; there is a big difference between a kid playing in the local little league and the time required to be on a year-round travel team. A parent can potentially drop a kid at local practice and run some errands around town or look after things at home before picking him back up with little disruption in daily tasks; but if the team requires weekend travel household chores and other obligations will be put on hold. Monetary cost is an extremely important factor, as well. Gone are the days where a cheerleader had one uniform for football and basketball. Now there are practice uniforms, game uniforms, competition uniforms and more. Supporting children’s dream can become a double-edged sword if the family’s time and money are overextended. Setting and keeping he limits early can significantly ease the decision-making process into the future. Some kids truly need to be on the travel team, others will be perfectly fine playing rec league.
Extracurricular Activities for Homeschoolers: Taking the Stress Off
The best news when it comes to extracurricular activities and your child’s future is that colleges no longer really care so much about which specific activities in which a prospective student has been involved. Colleges care more about what the student’s time spent in the extracurricular says about them. It is important to see what a child is passionate about, how their involvement impacted those around them and when given an opportunity did the student step out in a leadership role. Teaching a coding class to kids can be rated just as well as being the captain of the volleyball team. The bottom line is to find what the child enjoys or has a talent for and to grow that talent over time in the way that best supports the individual and the family.
Extracurricular Ideas for Homeschoolers
- Sports and Fitness: individual or team
- Traditional: baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc.
- New and Emerging: Parkour, Ninja Obstacle, Lightsaber
- Common Interest Clubs and Groups:
- Traditional: Scouts, Book, Student Council
- New and Emerging: Robotics, Coding, Entrepreneurship
- Traditional: Gardening, Religious, Political
- New and Emerging: Environment, Humanitarian
- Jobs and Internships:
- Traditional: Fast food, Retail, Farming
- New and Emerging: Non-profit, Shadowing, Entrepreneurship
Whether your homeschooled student enjoys traditional extracurriculars, like baseball or dance, or some extra effort is needed to find alternate hobbies, time spent figuring it out is a worthy endeavor. Memories made doing things they love will come across genuinely in interviews for college or work down the road; knowing they were supported their unique personalities will pay off for a lifetime.