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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My children are enrolled in extracurricular activities, and I'm starting to miss much of what I love about homeschooling --- rainy days reading in front of the fireplace, baking pies, nature walks, etc. It doesn't seem like a lot on the surface, but our afternoon free time is pretty much gone. Between sports, art class, and music lessons, I'm starting to lose my mind and crave more simplicity.

How many extracurriculars do your kids have? How do you strike a balance between these activities and your family/leisure/learn-at-home time?
 

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This was a perpetual point of discussion in our home. Not only was I homeschooling four kids with differing social needs (albeit mostly introverted and with each other to play with), but we lived at least 90 minutes away from a lot of the extra-curricular activities.

We tried to have at least two weekdays when we didn't leave home at all. That seemed to create sufficient balance for most of us. Of the three remaining weekdays, one or two would typically involve fairly local activities. Only one day a week would involve significant driving (i.e. 90 minutes each way) and we tried to cram as many of the weekly activities into that one day as we could. There was a year when that "Town Day" involved (a) piano lessons for two kids (b) gymnastics for three (c) three kids in two different choirs and (d) a violin lesson.

Generally this meant that each kid would be involved in 1 arts activity and 1 athletics activity. We'd sometimes stretch that a bit, especially if the additional activity was something that multiple kids were keen on.

Every family's situation will be a bit different. There are so many factors! I would encourage you to involve your children in making carefully considered decisions about scheduling out-of-home activities. It's really good for them to learn how to achieve a healthy balance, and to take into consideration how their wants and needs affect others.

Miranda
 

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I found as my kid got older the activities got more frequent and more intense. When he was younger we didnt do much or go many places. (Plus I was working full time until he was about 8, then I was working part time but pretty regularly until he was 12 or so). We started with things like a regular library day, a park day, going to the zoo and museums on occasion. Once we started swimming things really got crazy- age 9 or 10. As he got older we added in swim team (3 afternoons a week) and eventually moved to where he could walk to practice.

Now kiddo is 16 and has a pretty full schedule. I still need to remind myself, this journey is not so much about meeting my needs, its about meeting the needs of my child.
 

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My oldest 13 and 8th grade takes Piano and plays Cello she had a 30 minute private piano lesson Thursday afternoons and a Thursday night Orchestra rehearsal for 1.5 hours.
My younger 6 and 1st grade takes a 15 minute piano lesson on Tuesdays afternoon and a 45 minute ballet class Tuesday evenings
The take a homeschool based PC class every other Friday
We meet every other Tuesday morning with another HS group we attend mass and have a chance to discuss with the priest. After we rotate either a PE park type visit with lunch and fellowship after or a community service. (this week they are visiting with the elderly).. it actually meets every Tuesday but that is too much for us. SO we basically rotate the week with the other HS group with this one.
My oldest also belongs to a local Jr Optimist group also made up of mostly homeschoolers they meet once a month and try to do at least 1 service project a month.
Both attend Sunday school as well.
 

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I found as my kid got older the activities got more frequent and more intense. When he was younger we didnt do much or go many places.
This is so true. When my kids were young they did maybe three or four activities a week, confined to 3 days. By way of contrast, my youngest is now 13 with loads of interests, and her siblings have all left home, so it's pretty much open season on activities for her. She's got 18 hours a week of extra-curriculars -- several hours a day every single weekday. Thankfully we've re-worked our living situation so that she can walk to all but one of them, so it scarcely affects me.

Miranda
 

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I have 9 y.o. twins, a 7 y.o. and a 4.5 y.o. and am expecting in about 6 weeks. We do not home school.


We live in a really small town in the suburbs in a gated community, so my kids can go wherever whenever they want in the neighbourhood and my first rule of extracurriculars was if you can't go and come back on your own, you can't go.


One twin goes to gymnastics twice a week right after school and they've arranged a school bus to bring all the kids back so I don't have to worry about him. The other twin is in soccer once a week and he and a friend/neighbour walk there and back together. My daughter is in ballet. That I have to take her to because it's too far for her to walk to, so that's the only one that's a pain, but she really enjoys it so I can't say no. It's her third year.


If I had to drive them into the city they would not be going. We actually chose the activities based on the proximity to the house.


Good luck!
 

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my first rule of extracurriculars was if you can't go and come back on your own, you can't go.
Pretty sure this wouldn't fly for the vast majority of homeschoolers, since typically extracurriculars (which is a serious misnomer, at least for my homeschooling family) are a crucial part of their kids' overall education. They're often the best way for home-learning families to access a sense of community, mentors and teachers with expertise in other areas, social opportunities, team sports learning, co-operative learning environments and so on. On the whole homeschooled kids do a lot more of these scheduled activities -- and they have more time, since homeschooled learning is very efficient. Also, homeschooling parents are integrally involved in their children's learning, and that often encompasses some degree of involvement in their out-of-home learning as well. Even if the kids have a lot of independence, the parents have roles as supporters and facilitators... and often that means getting them there.

In the case of my eldest and youngest kids in particular, the spine of their homeschooling was formed by their out-of-home activities. As they grew older, they were more capable of transporting themselves, but their growing ability level demanded that they do many more hours and travel much further for opportunities.

Miranda
 

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We live in a really small town in the suburbs in a gated community, so my kids can go wherever whenever they want in the neighbourhood and my first rule of extracurriculars was if you can't go and come back on your own, you can't go.
This also shows a vast differences in ability to get to where they need to go, and come back. Homeschoolers have no school buses that drop them off at the Y after school. We often live at distances unreasonable to expect them to get anywhere on their own. Our nearest potential "extracurricular"* activity is a good 5 miles away, down roads with little or no shoulder and frequented by logging trucks every day of the week (roads even I don't enjoy walking on as an adult.) No way am I sending my (quite bike-savvy) kids on that road.

Nearest actual activity (4-H) used to be 10 miles, now it's 16+. Nope. It sounds nice (especially having 3 or more kids) to have a rule like this, but for anyone living around here, it ain't happenin'. We have no pools, no gyms, no art classes, no horses, no nothin'. Except forest. Lots and lots of forest. We can walk out the door and get blasted by nature, no cars necessary.

*"extra-curricular" really is a schooling term, if you think about it.
 

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My kids are 10 & 12 now, so they are expanding the "extracurriculars" that they can get to by themselves.
For the last two years they could only get to art and violin by themselves, a 2 and a 3 block walk from home.
This year, I am biking with them to piano and French for a month, until they are confident of their ability to go by themselves.
I have been thinking of having them bike to soccer, too.
I go with them to co-op even though it's only 4 blocks from home, since I lead the book/movie club.
Dad goes with one to coding class, since he wants to learn as well.
So, that leaves karate & drama for me to drive them to once a week.
They could take the bus, but with transfers it would take an hour plus. Since it's a 15 minute drive, I have chosen that route, and I take the dog for walks during the class.

All of that still leaves 2 fully free weekdays, plus 1 morning and 1 afternoon. Weekends are free, except for 8 weeks of soccer in the fall and again in the spring.
 

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Here, I might be able to make a rule like that "transport yourself" eventually. Families in town certainly can, since everything there is super walkable. We live 3 miles out the road, and while I don't trust my 5 and 7 yr olds to walk it by themselves yet (and it's too big a hill to bike home), I can imagine that being possible in a few years. It's all about where you live.

My kids are so-so on those sort of activities, at their age. They say no more often than yes, especially the 7yo, and I kind of wish he would do some extracurriculars, because he doesn't often interact with kids other than his sister anymore (now that the school year's started and his best friend has moved away).

Also, here, most activities are attended by young kids rather than older tweens or teens, and they're all very much "rec" level stuff -- we don't have enough kids or adults to get a lot of expertise in anything.
 

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Speaking as someone who was raised as pretty much an unschooler after leaving a Montessori program, extracurriculars were the schooling in a lot of ways.

Girl Scouts. Church groups. Volunteering at the science museum (they let me design the newsletter for their volunteers!). Volunteering at the natural history museum. Volunteering at the library. Volunteering at the living history museum. Classes at coops. Classes given in-home by other homeschooling moms. Youth grant councils. Community art classes. Classes at the YMCA. Day camps during the summer. Yoga at the local JCC. Meeting with different homeschooling groups.

One of the reasons why homeschooling was so enriching was because we embraced our city to the fullest, and it embraced us back. This much variation gave a really good counterbalance to the lack of structure at home (speaking for myself, I would have done better with more structure and discipline at home). I don't think any of us looked at it as "extra" but rather as part of our normal schooling day.

Even as an introvert, I loved very much everything we did outside the home.
 

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I don't understand how some families manage all these activities, especially ones who's kids do go to school! My dd is 8 and only has 2 art classes a week. In the past it was 1 hour of ballet and 1 art class each week. I can't imagine any more! Oh, she is in Girl Scouts which meets for an hour every other week. We are unschoolers and very much value that time at home you speak of! I would like to get her involved in a more physical activity, but we are happy with our schedule right now :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I think my chief concern when I started this thread was my own mental health. As homeschoolers, we're not effective if we neglect our own self-care.

Next term, I'm going to try my hardest to get activities that all fall on the same 1-2 days of the week. There's something to be said about those wonderful days of the week when you don't have to go anywhere and can intersperse lessons with nature walks, baking bread, etc. We all have to adapt our plans to our livings surroundings and lifestyle. The "soshul-izashun" thing isn't hard for us because we live in such a close-knit community, so my motive with these activities is more to enable my children to develop their skills and passions. For selfish and convenience-related reasons, I just wish they share more of the same interests. :Sheepish But my children's uniquenesses are what make each of them special. :love
 
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I don't understand how some families manage all these activities, especially ones who's kids do go to school!
Years ago I would have shared this sentiment, but as a parent to older kids I understand now. When they were younger, out-of-home excursions were exhausting for all of us and especially for me. But as my kids got older and more focused, these became motivating and energizing activities for them, and the organization and transportation became far less my responsibility than theirs. Activities morphed from being an onerous obligation that I had to manage into being refreshing breaks for me, opportunities for me go for a run or catch up on errands or self-care I'd been putting off.

My dd13 (who as of last month now goes to school) has 16+ hours a week of extra-curricular activities. She relies on me for transportation to only one class ... she does everything else herself, all the scheduling, communication with teachers/coaches, the laundry, the packing of snacks and equipment, the keeping track of paperwork and special events, the getting back and forth.

Miranda
 
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