Many of us have chosen to homeschool because we want to disciple and educate our children at home. And while I believe the bulk of our time and learning should take place at home, I strongly believe that extracurricular activities benefit homeschoolers too. If done the correct way, extracurricular activities can provide opportunities for learning that supplement what is being taught at home. Here are four reasons why I believe extracurricular activities benefit homeschoolers…
They Provide a Mission Field
Probably the number one benefit I see is that extracurricular activities offer both our children and us an opportunity to be the light of Jesus in our community. As we interact with other families, we get to form relationships with people we might not have had a chance to otherwise. It keeps us in touch with the struggles of people outside of our Christian “bubble” and gives us the opportunity to share the love of Jesus through both our actions and our words.
Jesus didn’t isolate Himself with just His followers. He went out to seek and save the lost. And He left us a mission to do the same (Matt. 28). Whether it be a sports team, a community service group, a choir group, or a club, extracurricular activities allow us to share our lives with people who are different than us. And, yet, I know the temptation to navigate towards other believers or just your current friends in the group. That is natural. And it’s okay to be closer to them. However, when you step out of your comfort zone and reach out to others, you will be blessed as you see Jesus working in and through you.
We often think that being a missionary means going to another country. But God has placed us where we are and wants to reach people through us right in our own area. When we have that shift in thinking and are intentional about cultivating missional relationships on our kids’ teams, we will actively be walking out our role in the Great Commission. As we share our life, we need to be bold in speaking about Him!
They Teach Life Lessons
As our children are involved in teams or clubs, they get to learn many valuable life lessons. Some of these can definitely be taught and practiced among siblings at home. But, there is something special about peer interaction in groups outside the home too. These interactions aid learning how to work with others, especially with those who may come from very different backgrounds. Our children will get to put into practice loving, forgiving, and interacting with people with different values and upbringings. This can spark great conversations with our children and help teach them valuable life lessons. They will get the opportunity to put into practice the biblical values we teach them at home.
Moreover, being a part of extracurricular activities offers our children a great platform to learn some of these important life skills too:
- conflict resolution
- submission to authority
Just yesterday I had a great conversation with my son about a boy on his baseball team who was being a distraction at practice and doing something to my son that he didn’t like. We talked about how he handled it, what he can do and say if it happens again, and how to offer this boy grace. It was a great reminder to me that being involved in sports is so much more than learning a game – it’s really learning valuable skills for life!
They Provide Exercise
Most extracurricular activities also provide a great outlet for our kids’ energy. I know that my kids can sometimes seemingly go crazy inside when they are not active. While they can play in our back yard or we can go on a family hike, there’s nothing like a sport to regularly get their wiggles out, keep their bodies active and healthy, and refresh their minds. I know I always feel better after I have exercised. And I know my kids do too.
In addition, it teaches them the value of being healthy, which not only includes being active, but many times naturally leads to a conversation about nutrition too. If we want our bodies to perform their best, we need to fuel them with good foods. I remind my kids too that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit so we want to treat them well. Extracurricular activities often provide a means to put this into practice.
They are Fun
Whatever our children are involved in, they should enjoy it! There’s nothing wrong with them having a little fun. We should expose our kids to a variety of different activities when they are young. Let them try different sports, groups, clubs, music, dance, etc. You never know what God-given talents they may discover! And when our children are participating in something they are talented in, they not only have fun, but their confidence increases too.
They might not love everything they try, but that’s okay too. Have them commit for the season or session, and then try something else. They are bound to find something they enjoy that they might not have ever realized.
But…Don’t Do it All
While extracurricular activities are truly beneficial for so many reasons, you have to make sure that you don’t over-commit your family. Be careful not to succumb to the pressure to do everything all at the same time. You want to make sure that you can still enjoy moments of downtime at home together as a family, especially in the elementary years. Your kids need to have un-rushed time to explore and interact with each other. Balance is key.
Before you commit to any extracurricular activity, you have to take into consideration the needs and time restraints on all your family members. And you want to avoid feeling like you are rushing all over town to get to everything. Pray and ask God for wisdom and direction. See where He is leading your family. Ask Him if there is anything you need to cut out, even those things that are good. Ask for help keeping your priorities in order. There will always be things that compete for your time. Make sure you model using your time wisely.
And lastly, consider your budget. Many sports teams can be very expensive. Stick with recreational teams while your kids are young. There is no need to rush into competitive teams. Figure out what works for you financially and stay within your budget. I know with our budget, we have to limit extracurricular activities at our house. We found a local church that offers fine arts classes for free each semester. Our daughter has loved these classes this winter and yet we still limit them because we don’t want to fall into a life of busyness. Check your local area for classes like these if your budget is limited.
If you are considering your extracurricular options, I hope this post has helped you. I do strongly believe that extracurricular activities benefit homeschoolers. Keep a missional mindset. Remember they provide great teachable moments. Let your kids have fun. Just don’t over-commit.
Let me know if your family has found extracurricular activities beneficial to you. Leave a comment below!