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Homeschool Extracurricular Activities
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The roots of extracurricular activities as they apply to homeschool education have always been centered in the family.  Around the time of our country’s founding, Thomas Jefferson, estimated that it would take about three years of education to equip a child to function adequately in society.  This early educational curriculum focused mainly on the ”three R’s”: reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, with no rigid separation between education in the home or out of it.  In the 1800’s, one of our founding “educational” fathers, John Dewey, advocated an increased use of schools to augment the role of the family in a child’s education.   Dewey’s theories on education, which included extracurricular activities, led to the expansion of the educational period from that initial three years to its current 13 to 20 year period. 

Extracurricular activities are, therefore, not new.  Since those early years their role has been a part of the educational process in family and traditional school settings.  But with homeschooling now on the rise, and with a greater emphasis being put on the importance of the family in a child’s education, we see things coming full circle.  And topics thus begun in the 1800’s are being actively discussed again today.  The early role of extracurricular activities had to do with educational central planning and youth conditioning experiences.  The current thinking regarding their role can be thought to center around the notion that “children learn what they live”. 

Extracurricular activities in the traditional school setting, while considered to be outside of the domain of the regular curriculum, are nonetheless educational activities.  So, while they have usually have no official academic status and do not result in academic credits, they are still organized and sanctioned by the schools and educational institutions that offer them.  Extracurricular activities have the same educational benefit to the homeschooling paradigm.  Certain types of extracurricular activities are even more important to homeschoolers. 

Homeschooling parents these days are keen to uphold their right to equal access of publically available activities.  The equal access issue is important to homeschooling parents because many of the extracurricular activities in which they are interested are activities that require access to and interaction with other kids.  In the U.S., 22 states currently allow homeschoolers access to sports and other activities, subject usually to certain conditions.    In the state of Maine, for instance, homeschooled children are eligible by law to try out for any publicly offered school activity as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.

Extracurricular activities can mean something different for homeschoolers than it does in a traditional school setting.  For example, homeschoolers can choose activities that are often available only privately, and they can often select extracurricular activities that can be personalized to meet the special needs and interests of the homeschooled child.  Homeschoolers also find it more important to keep detailed accounts of extracurricular activities in the homeschool log, journal or portfolio, since this record can be of value for college admission and job application purposes at a later time.

There is a wide range of extracurricular activities available to the homeschooled child beyond the sports and recreational categories.  They include: arts and science clubs, musical instrument instruction, singing lessons, and dance instruction.  On the community front there are opportunities for volunteer work, internships, and work with local town halls.  There are also a number of competitive extracurricular activities available at the nation level such as academic quizzes and tournaments, spelling bees, and math and science competitions.

Extracurricular activities can also be particularly valuable to homeschoolers when it comes to college admissions.  Though most weight is given to to grades and test scores in the college admissions process, when ties occur students with varied experiences in their educational background can be the factor that is the tie-breaker.  College admissions officers often view homeschooled students with extracurricular experience as well-rounded, which can be a factor in selecting candidates for scholarships.

What is most valuable from an educational perspective may come down to what is most memorable.  In this regard, extracurricular activities have the potential to be very valuable indeed, because they can stick with you for a lifetime.  At Academic Boot Camp Tips, we strive to share the many memorable moments of the educational experience.  Our community encourages the sharing of these experiences, and invites you to to contribute those of your own.


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