Tips & Inspiration

Which Extracurriculars are Best for My Homeschooled Child

Which Extracurriculars are Best for My Homeschooled Child?

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
  • Community:
    • 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.

 

Which Extracurriculars are Best for My Homeschooled Child

choosing the right curriculum for your childs learning style

Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum for Your Child’s Learning Style

The beautiful thing about homeschooling is the wide variety of curriculum options available. That can also be the most overwhelming thing about homeschooling. With so many options, choosing one can be a source of anxiety.  Picking the wrong curriculum can create a homeschool environment that’s not enjoyable for anyone.

One important way to make sure your homeschool works for you and your child is to know her learning style. No matter how great your homeschool plans and lessons are, if they don’t fit with the way she learns best, it’s likely she will struggle and become frustrated. Here are some tips for choosing the right homeschool curriculum for your child’s learning style.

How to Determine Your Child’s Learning Style

The first step in choosing the right homeschool curriculum for your child’s learning style is to determine what your child’s learning style is.

Homeschool On is a great resource. It offers a free learning style quiz that will help you decide how to best teach your child. Answer the questions for each of your children, and structure your teaching accordingly for the best results.

Don’t jump too quickly based on those results, though. It’s best to observe your child over the course of time to discover how he expresses himself and his interests then use those observations in combination with the quiz results.  Here are common characteristics of each learning style:

Common Characteristics of Visual Learners

  • Excels in art and other visual activities
  • Enjoys books that include illustrations
  • Good a recognizing faces
  • Works best when provided an example
  • Good a reading maps and charts
  • Likes to play with construction toys and jigsaw puzzles
  • Better than most at observing details
  • Easily distracted by visual stimulation
  • Struggles with:
    • Creative writing
    • Word problems

Common Characteristics of Auditory Learners

  • Excels in music and other auditory activities
  • Frequently sings or hums
  • Follows verbal instructions well
  • Enjoys talking
  • Listens to all instructions before starting a task
  • Asks a lot of questions
  • Learns new words phonetically
  • Excellent memory for names, dates and trivia
  • Likes word games
  • Usually able to learn times tables easily
    • Struggles with:
      • Editing written work
      • Attention to detail in math

Common Characteristics of Kinesthetic Learners

  • Highly active; doesn’t sit still for too long
  • Uses lots of gestures and body language when talking
  • Needs to touch and feel
  • Good a mimicking others
  • Enjoys “moving” activities, such as sports and dance
  • Usually gets started on a task quickly
  • Excellent muscle coordination
  • Distracted when needs to sit still
  • Excellent at disassembling and reassembling gadgets
  • Struggles with:
    • Phonics
    • Analytical work

Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum for Your Child’s Learning Style

Once you determined your child’s learning style, read the section below that most fits how she learns. Use the resources and tips to formulate a successful homeschool curriculum!

Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum for Visual Learners

According to Wikipedia, “Visual learning is a style in which a learner utilizes graphs, charts, maps and diagrams.”

They need to see the concepts in action in order to fully grasp them. With this information, you can tailor your homeschool lessons to include showing your child how to master the different concepts.

Worksheets work well for visual learners, who often forget instructions or lessons they hear. Having everything right in front of them is always best. (Be sure to check out all of the resources right here at Modern Homeschool Family. We offer plenty of free worksheets for homeschoolers!)

LearningScience.org offers free tools to help your visual learner see how things work. He can create graphs, use a virtual microscope and more at this website.

Toys and games may also help you visual learner master concepts. Playing with money, for example, is much easier to understand and remember than you telling him that a quarter is worth 25 cents.

Learning and Study Tips for Visual Learners:

    • Give written instructions
    • Use different colors for note taking
    • Make and use flashcards
    • Create charts and diagrams
    • Use board and memory games
    • Use books with illustrations
    • Use videos

Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum for Auditory Learners

Auditory learners process information best by hearing it. They use listening and speaking to thrive in school settings. They can usually detect changes in tone to really understand what the speaker is saying.

To help your auditory learner thrive, prepare lessons that involve you reading aloud. Lectures are great for the auditory learner. Audiobooks are another great way for auditory learners to understand material.

Audible from Amazon can be a great resource for your auditory learner. They have a ton of non-fiction books like biographies for your student to listen to. One of my favorite resources for audio books is Hoopla Digital.   Available through many public libraries, you can access thousands of audiobooks for free!

Songs that bring about learning concepts also help auditory learners retain important information. Singing the days of the week or multiplication facts is likely to help an auditory learner remember them than writing it all down.

Learning and Study Tips for Auditory Learners:

    • Read books and study material aloud
    • Repeat study notes aloud
    • Make up jingles for memorizing facts
    • Provide instructions orally

Choosing the Right Homeschool Curriculum for Kinesthetic Learners

Hands-on and physical activities are the methods in which kinesthetic learners learn best. They can’t sit still long, so lectures or worksheets don’t interest them.

Take walks daily with your kinesthetic learner. Let them be active, and incorporate learning activities into this outside time. Ask them to count the leaves on a branch, or discuss the process of photosynthesis with them.

LEGOs and other building materials are great for STEM learning in kinesthetic learners. Give them the freedom to construct as they wish, asking questions and including learning opportunities in their play.

Flashcards break up the monotony of reading or listening to you teach for kinesthetic learners. Allow your child to help create the flash cards too!

Learning and Study Tips for Kinesthetic Learners:

    • Use a squeeze/stress ball while studying
    • Create practice tests to use
    • Change positions while doing written work (stand, lay down, etc.)
    • Incorporate art or science experiments
    • Incorporate role playing activities

 

Hopefully these tips and techniques will help you successfully cater to your child’s individual learning style. It’s not enough to homeschool your child – you need to teach your child in the best ways for her to learn. Choosing the right homeschool curriculum for your child’s learning style will help your child learn better and make homeschooling much more enjoyable for the both of you!

choosing the right curriculum for your childs learning style(1)

 

Sources: Independent Education Consultants (UK), Grade Power Learning, HSLDA

Educational Opportunities at Epcot for Homeschoolers

Educational Opportunities at Epcot for Homeschoolers

Educational Opportunities at Epcot for Homeschoolers is made possible by OrlandoFunTickets.com, a trusted resource for discount Disney World tickets.

 

As a homeschooling family, you know that learning doesn’t stop because the text books are put away. We seek out opportunities for our children to learn every day; whether it be a life skill like getting the oil changed in your car or reinforcing what you’ve been studying by pointing out real-life correlations. There’s no reason for learning to stop when you’re on vacation either.

Ok, don’t throw the rotten tomatoes at me! I’m not talking about dragging your encyclopedia with you or having the kids do worksheets every night before bed. What I am suggesting is that there are many opportunities for your children to learn new things while on vacation, if you just look for them.

Disney World is widely considered the most popular family vacation destination and for homeschooler with kids at Walt Disney World there are a multitude of opportunities to teach. Every Park has its educational points as Disney heritage involves as much about education as it is about entertaining.

You can bring your kids into the planning process of your vacation. Depending on how old they are, you can ask them to research and compare flights, create a route using Google maps, help plan and prepare snacks or entertainment or ask high schoolers to keep track of the budget.

A quick real-life economics activity would be have your older students help allocate the budget for entertainment and tickets. Have them research the various ticket options on the Disney World website and compare the to OrlandoFunTickets.com. (spoiler alert: if you’re planning on spending three or more days in the parks, get them in advance online. The savings really add up!)

Once you get to the parks, the educational opportunities present themselves, if you’re keeping an eye out for them.

Educational Opportunities at Epcot for Homeschoolers

The very basis of Disneyland was how facts and fantasy combine to bring about the potential realities of tomorrow. There is no better place to find this philosophy in action than Epcot. Educational opportunities at Epcot are part of the nucleus of the entire theme park.

Epcot Education

Walt Disney established the groundwork for Walt Disney World by creating his own municipality. It was based on his optimistic view of the future. His desire was to apply his philosophy of optimal behaviorism to his growing mastery of urban design. In so doing, he would create a new kind of prototypical city that would lead the way for the rest of the country. Various aspects of his unique vision tease us from around Walt Disney World; but when Epcot was created it pointed to many of those ideals. At the same time it celebrated Walt Disney’s experience with world’s fairs.

The resulting park is a permanent world’s fair that is subject to change as new possibilities immerse for our future. World showcase connects us to various cultures and Future World teaches young and old alike. Educational elements have been laced throughout even Epcot’s most thrilling adventures. For kids, there is much to explore and discover.

Invention and Discovery Chart

Though there is no official name (some call them science discs or science circles) and most people pass right over it without a thought, this chart is an incredible educational tool. This chart is part of the ground you walk on as you exit the breezeway on your path to the attractions of Future World West. Although three pavilions lie ahead, you should stop to observe this fascinating chart. One of the best educational opportunities at Epcot, it chronicles inventions and discoveries throughout recorded time. Each disc in the floor includes an important scientific event. These events include the year, the inventor/discoverer, the country and the era in which this took place. You could even take pictures of each one and turn them into flash cards.

Educational Attractions at Epcot for Homeschoolers

Educational Rides at Epcot

Living with the Land is one of the most educational attractions in Epcot, because it gives a brief history of ecosystems and then a tour of agricultural techniques. The attraction emphasis the science behind growing food and the ways we can responsibly cultivate the land to create more food with fewer resources and less strain on the environment.

Spaceship Earth is the most straightforward educational attraction. It’s pure purpose is to teach guests about the history of communication. What an amazing story this is! It sweeps you through the ages from cave paintings to the internet using three dimensional tableaus to illustrate each new development in history. The finale of the ride offers an optimistic glimpse of the future based on the interests of each set of riders.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends may seem like it lacks substance, but beyond the fun characters and the entertainment, there is real education to be had at this aquarium. observe manatees, dolphins, sharks and more as you explore a simulation sea base. Special tours are available at an extra cost that include swimming in the giant tank for SCUBA and non SCUBA certified guests.

Educational Shows at Epcot

Reflections of China is a circle vision film in the China Pavilion at the World Showcase. This 360 presentation provides stunning and poetic imagery that displays remnants of the ancient past and the modern cityscapes that reflect their origins.

The American Adventure is an impressive show that presents the history of the United States in  a nutshell. Told from the perspectives of Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin this moving and educational show features an impressive use of sets and audio animatronics that rivals any classic Disney attraction.

Impressions de France is a film that provides an overview of the diverse regions of France and what it must be like to live there. It’s a treat for the eyes and a more casual presentation, but it shares much about French Culture just off of the impressions the film gives.

O Canada is another circle vision film. The aim of this production is to open your eyes to the wonder and diversity of Canadian geography and culture. Martin Short gives an engaging tour of all that Canada has to offer.

Educational Galleries and Exhibits at Epcot

Norway has an exhibit inside of the Stare Church midway through the pavilion. It’s a small gallery that features Norse mythology. Dioramas depict Norwegian gods in scenes from the myths, illustrating some of the stories found in the gallery.

America has a gallery dedicated to the art of Native Americans. This is a gallery inside the main show building next to the lobby. It’s an ideal way to make use of your time before the theater opens up for the next performance.

Morocco has yet another gallery. This one is easy to pass because the small building has closed doors and very little signage. Inside is an exhibit on the art of adornment, featuring various dress and accessories for Moroccan rituals, customs and traditions.

These are just some of the many educational opportunities to explore in Epcot. Disney World isn’t the only place to find educational opportunities while on vacation. If you’re looking for it, you can find educational value almost anywhere.  Do you know of any secrets or tips that I left out? Share them in the comments below and tell me what you would like to know about next!

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making math meaningful for teens

Making Math Meaningful for Teens: Practical Homeschool Advice

Spending time with teens to make math relevant to them now can help them build strong math competencies to achieve success later. So how can parents engage their teens in math-focused activities that both can enjoy? Here are tips to help you capture your teen’s interest and make math meaningful in many ways, through encouragement, entertainment and empowerment.

DIY rainbow rice sensory bin featured

How to Make Your Own Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin

Sensory bins are and excellent tool that can be created easily and inexpensively. Not only are they fun to make and play with but the benefits of using sensory bins in your homeschool are numerous. One of the easiest and least expensive sensory bins to make is a Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin. Just like the name implies, you’ll use rice, and a few other materials.

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