“Do you make your daughter do so many extra-curricular activities because you feel guilty about taking her out of school?” asked a rather blunt acquaintance a few weeks after I began homeschooling my seven year old.
The question took me aback. For a moment I fell into anxious self-examination.
Was the woman right? Was I enrolling C(7) to every club going out of some paranoid fear that she was missing out, now that she was home-educated?
Then I remembered why C chose to be homeschooled.
Here was a child who enthusiastically threw herself at every opportunity (the more physical the better). Who at age six, looked up local judo clubs when I (concerned about our already busy schedule) dragged my heels following her request to learn it. A child so busy trying to fit in school, homework, her many sports, her artistic activities and playdates, that I barely saw her.
And when I did see her, it was as chauffeur and personal assistant to a tired and all too often grumpy little girl. Clearly, something had to go.
After some discussion, we realised that the obvious thing to let go of was school.
Without school and homework taking up the bulk of each day, C(7) was free to throw herself into her passions, see friends, enjoy plenty of downtime, have a relationship with her family and learn everything she would have at school in much less time.
“No. My daughter left school so that she would have time do all these ‘extra-curricular’ activities.” I told the blunt woman.
Looking back, I wonder if the woman (who was planning to homeschool her two pre-schoolers) was feeling insecure about how few activities her own children did.
But comparing ourselves with others is a sure path to an unfulfilling and unsuccessful homeschooling experience. Only we know the needs of our own family.
In our home, my challenge is to balance the needs of the introverts (my son and me), with those of my extremely extroverted daughter. While J(8) and I crave quiet time immersed in our interests at home, C(9) wants to be out trying new things and meeting new friends.
I would love to be one of those homeschoolers who manage to limit their outside activities to one per child. But to C(9), sharing a house with a couple of introverts, that would be torture.
Here’s what our extra-curricular schedule looks like this term:
Monday – karate
Tuesday – group guitar lesson, home-ed centre, gymnastics *
Wednesday – Cub Scouts, free swimming
Thursday – climbing
Friday – Stagecoach (3 hours of singing, drama and dance)
Sunday – rugby (September – April)
*Tuesdays also involve 2 hours driving – just don’t ask me to string a sentence together after 6pm
Tuesday – home-ed centre
Wednesday – Occupational Therapy (1-1), swimming lesson
Thursday – climbing
Balancing everyone’s needs
So how do we introverts cope?
Some of C(9)’s activities are close to home, others involve J(8) and me waiting around for her. We use waiting time to listen to audiobooks, walk in nature with our dog, read, write and meditate (me), and play iPad games (J). We have our own headphones and, frankly, while C(9) – we love her very much! – is off talking to other people, we enjoy a bit of peace!
As C(9) gets older I know her social needs are going to continue to challenge me – but I love that I get to spend so much time with my young bundle of energy.
If homeschooling her through the years to come means organising teen clubs and writing groups, art workshops and science co-ops, I’m up for it. She won’t be at home forever, and I want to make the most of every moment.
How much is too much?
How many activities should your child do? Only you and your family can answer that. If two activities a week leaves you with no energy to do what’s important to you, then two is too much, no matter how outgoing your child is.
And if someone asks why you’re “making” your child do so much, just smile and know that you’re doing what’s right for your family.
The Homeschool Help team on extra-curricular activities
This post is part of the Homeschool Help series written by six different home-educating mothers from all over the planet. I’ve been enjoying reading the series immensely, so I’m delighted to have joined the team.
The Tiger Chronicle – Any Room For Extras? A few ways to look at extra-curricular activities.
Barefoot Hippie Girl – Just A Homebody. Picking and choosing what’s best for your family and life season.
Every Bed of Roses – It’s All About A Science Of Relations. It’s not about how busy, it’s about building a memory.
Highhill Homeschool – Benefits Of Extracurricular Activities. Extracurricular activities are good for kids – mostly.
Hammock Tracks – Extra Curricular Activities And Family Goals. How do you choose when and where your children (or even you) participate in extra curricular activities?
13 thoughts on “Homeschooling And Extra-Curricular Activities – How Much Is Too Much?”
I felt like you were speaking just to me! You described my family perfectly. My oldest (12) is just like your oldest. She wants to do and try everything and throws her whole self into what she loves. Myself and my youngest (10) are introverted and need time for peaceful retreat from the busy world of my youngest. We have listened to audiobooks during basketball clinics. We have explored university libraries and read books sitting in the sun. I can’t hold my oldest back and I can’t push my youngest either. It can be challenging. I love your response to the woman who asked you about your child’s involvement in activities. It was a constant challenge when my oldest was in school and it is the main reason why she wishes to homeschool through highschool.
It’s so lovely to hear from someone in the same position as me!
Before I embraced my introversion and realised my son was introverted too, I used to worry about the imbalance between their activities – that we were so busy running round after my daughter, there was no time for his interests. Now I’m relieved his interests, like mine, can mostly be done in the comfort of our home and garden!
It’s good to hear that your oldest plans to homeschool through highschool. I think staying learning at home would be more satisfying for C(9), too – I’m crossing my fingers she can resist the lure of that new experience!
This is a great post. Thank you. I often look at other homeschool families and feel we should do more outside the home. I work part-time at the library–which I did before we took our girls out of school–and I always feel guilty about those two days a week and that we are not doing outside classes or playdates or field trips or something. I am an introvert, but my mom was extremely extroverted and she always made me feel like there was something wrong with not wanting to go and do and be around people all the time. I am learning that it’s okay to not do what other families are doing. My oldest loves to read and sew and she is raising gerbils–those last two activities require being at home. My youngest wants to “try” every single thing she hears about, but often grows tired of it; the things she doesn’t grow tired of are writing scripts, making and editing videos and stop motion films–I have been making an effort to focus on activities for her that will allow further exploration in her interests. Every child is different, every family is different. Great post!
Hi Theresa! Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad you liked the post.
C(9) never wants to give anything up (we have to negotiate hard when she wants to add an activity) but, as you are doing, I try to focus on deepening her interests. It’s satisfying to get better at skills we develop on our own, as well as in groups. (She loves making stop-motion films, too, funnily enough.)
It must be hard having an extroverted parent when you are more introverted! My sister is extroverted and I can see it’s hard for her having a son who needs so much downtime at home.
Raising gerbils sounds like fun!
Thank you again for stopping to comment 🙂
All my children bar my last would be very extroverted and would just love to be out and about experiencing life to the full. With five children and a strong desire to pay off our mortgage in the next few years we have needed to pull back considerably on all we do for financial reasons. It’s the same old adage- you can’t have/do everything. We found the cancer made us re-evaluate our priorities, so we try to make the most of our time together at home, with as much fun as we can pack in our days! I’ll send my guys over to you for their socialisation!!!
Oh, and it’s good to see you join the panel!
Thanks, Claire 🙂 Your home sounds such a lovely place to be – I wouldn’t want to do much outside it if I was one of your family! I think extroverts probably thrive in big families and don’t need the extra stimulation. Although C(9) likes trying new sports etc, her main incentive is probably to find people to talk to. (She found it so hard when we were skiing, being the only English child in her lessons!) That makes it sound like J(8) and I go round in silence – we most definitely don’t! – but we do need a bit of peace and quiet now and then 🙂
I agree that it’s all about each family’s goals and priorities. Children who are loved will thrive in almost any environment.
This made me laugh. We are totally coming at this from opposite view points. =) I was talking with my husband and we are going to get our boys into sports next fall, as well as starting piano lessons with the oldest. But, I could not do your schedule. It would make me insane. I think that is why this is such z personal issue, and why it is great to get the different perspectives. It challenges me, but also, I am okay with being me too.
Thanks for the welcome, Bernadette. We may stand in different places with our schedules (and so have different view points, as you say), but I don’t think our values are so far apart, are they? We’re both doing what feels right for us and our families at this point in time.
I know what you mean about our schedule, though. It is a bit insane! Luckily we’re quite unschoolish so there’s not too much curriculum to get through! 😀
You’re right. Everyone has there own needs. Our house also has an imbalance of activities. My son takes a tennis lesson. My eleven year old takes violin, piano, orchestra and two dances classes per week. My six year old is also headed for the social path. When I was 16 and got my driver’s license my mom was so excited she got me a very old beat up car. She was officially off duty as the driver.
Yes I’m looking forward to C(9) being able to run herself around. Shame we have to wait til 17 here!
Great post, Lucinda! I like how you’ve worked out a way to balance the needs of the introverts and extroverts in your family. It is hard work trying to meet everyone’s needs and it appears to me that you’re doing a fantastic job.
I also think you’ve handled the blunt question at the beginning very well. Homeschoolers do get a fair share of stick, don’t we? As you’ve identified correctly, when the criticism comes from a fellow or potential homeschooler, it’s probably a case of that individual acting out her own jealousy or insecurity. If only that individual knew how unnecessary it is to make comparisons. 🙂
Thank you, Hwee! Comparing myself with others is something I have to guard against all the time. Even after posting this I found myself worrying I’m getting the balance “wrong”. Then I remember – there is no “wrong”! 😀
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