As a homeschooler, I’ve felt at times like I’m a bit of a failure as far as extracurricular activities go. I hear people talk about how they provide socialization and the chance to follow one’s passions. We’ve had varying degrees of success at different activities, but most of the various activities we’ve signed the kids up for have involved us herding them into the car against their wills.
I’ve tried to look at the extracurriculars from my kids points of view. They end up being dragged away from things they like doing. I’ve tried to encourage them to make friends, but an hour a week with someone telling them they should pay attention and not visit, just isn’t enough to do that.
I’ve had to stop and ask myself why I try to push the extracurricular activities. I’ve realized it is largely an issue of my own expectations and what my images of how childhood is supposed to be. It is about me trying to get them to act a part, rather than addressing real needs.
Swimming lessons we have stuck with. We’ve been lucky with it too. Our favorite municipal pool was willing to arrange lessons for homeschoolers during the middle of the day. The pool is quieter there than during the normal evening lessons. During evening lessons I could barely hear the parent sitting waiting next to me because the whole room echoed with the noises and the noise was a problem for the children as well. The quieter homeschool classes work well for us. Students of several different levels are taught together, so passing or failing a session does not change who is in their class.
This year, as the kids experience school for the first time we have to give up the homeschool swimming lessons. We won’t be replacing them with any other extracurriculars, at least not this year. Going to school itself will take up a huge amount of time.
Extracurricular have never been very successful for us. Partly the activities we tried didn’t catch the kids interests. At best they tolerated the activities. At worst the activities became just one more reminder that they didn’t fit in. I’ve had to come to accept that extracurricular activities are extras. It is great if they work, but life goes on without them just as well.