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Extracurricular Activities and Home Schooling: Including Sports, Music, Drama, Art, Volunteer Opportunities

More and more home schooling families are discovering the benefits of extracurricular activities that supplement their curriculum beyond the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. One of the most popular and accessible resources for extracurricular activities is the public school system which probably already has organized sports, music programs such as band and choir, drama, and art classes. But, you can also involve your child in activities through the community or city recreational department, however sometimes these activities carry a larger price tag and are not as extensive. Another of the optional extracurricular activities that is becoming more popular for children and their families is volunteer opportunities.This is a way to be involved with the community in a very personal way and it can teach many lessons which could not be learned in any type of school setting.

Some public schools do not allow children who are home schooled to participate in extracurricular activities. So, you will need to find out what the regulations in your area are regarding home schooled children participating in extracurricular activities such as organized sports, music, drama and art. They may require your child to pay some added fees to participate in these extracurricular activities.  Also, some of these offerings are actually not extracurricular activities, but are part of the general curriculum, like music and art classes. If this is the case, you may want to find out if your school district allows home school students to be on campus for only some courses while taking others at home.

Organized sports can be team or individual sports. Everything from badminton to basketball and everything in between can be offered through a public school or community organized sports program. If you are unable to participate in organized sports in the public school you may want to see about working with home school organizations in your area or possibly private or charter schools that offer extracurricular activities and organized sports. Organized sports are a good opportunity for children to learn how to cooperate, to lose and win graciously, to get physically fit, and to meet other children. Being part of a team in organized sports can also build confidence.

Music programs and lessons are another important part of a well-rounded education. Although private lessons are ideal for learning to play the piano and also to build skills on any particular instrument or voice, playing with a music group such as a band or orchestra or singing in a choir, develops other important music skills. It is much like organized sports on a team in some ways; everyone is working towards the same goal of a good performance. General music courses have been cut as some schools struggle financially, but they may offer it as one of the extracurricular activities for students.

Drama is an area of extracurricular activities where it is almost essential to go beyond the homeschool framework to get a really well-rounded experience. Many elementary schools do not have drama programs due to budget cuts, but many communities have a drama or theater program which people can get involved in. However, if neither of these is an extra curricular activities option, you can also work with other home school groups to form your own drama "program" to put on small plays and productions. Drama also has the advantage that there are lots of different skills and tasks involved, such as writing, technical work (lights, filming, sound, etc.), scenery and props, and choreography and acting. Drama can also easily fit into a Unit Studies curriculum.

Art classes or instruction allow children to express themselves in a way that they may not experience in any other subject or curriculum area. But, like drama and music, there are some public schools which are cutting art classes out of the curriculum because they are too expensive and they do not offer them as extracurricular activities. Regular classroom teachers may be required to include some art in their curriculum, but this is not the same as having regular art classes. If you are home schooling and you live in an area where art classes are part of the general education curriculum, you can find out if home school children are allowed to attend, otherwise, you may be able to find art classes and lesson plans included in a unit studies program, an all-in-one curriculum or with a community course or a private teacher.

Volunteer opportunities may be the most meaningful extracurricular activities that your child can participate in. Depending on the type of volunteer opportunity they choose, they may work with people of all ages and in all different cultures and situations. Some volunteer opportunities are ongoing while others are a one-time offering. Let your child choose (within reason) the type of volunteer experience they would like to have.The volunteer opportunity may be as simple as collecting books for the hospital or it may be something like putting on a music or drama program for a nursing home.

As you can see, there are many extracurricular activities which you can be involved in while you homeschool. You choose the extent to which you are involved in them and make adjustments as needed. Don't over schedule yourself or your child to the point that it is not enjoyable-but do get involved in something beyond the four walls of your home if possible-it will open up a world of possibilities. 
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