Some of the most enjoyable parts of the traditional school experience are participating in sports teams and the school play, playing in the band or orchestra, and even joining in academic competitions.
If you are wondering whether you can provide opportunities like this to your children while homeschooling them, the answer is very clear, yes!
Homeschooled students can participate in a range of valuable extracurricular activities through various community groups and offerings, including scouting, team or individual sports, music lessons, theater programs, community service and volunteering, activities with homeschool groups, public library programming, and 4-H clubs. Each of these activities provides non-academic enrichment, offers social opportunities, and helps your child develop essential skills like teamwork and long-term commitment.
8.Programs at the Public Library
With so many options out there for extracurricular activities, where do you start? Here are 9 great options for building extracurriculars into your homeschooling program.
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts programs are an excellent opportunity for homeschooled children to have meaningful, long-term interactions with a peer group.
Both types of scouting involve children in a small-group setting (usually from 5 to 15 children) led by parent volunteers trained in scouting philosophy and programming.
In earlier grades, scouting programs emphasize activities like crafts, learning the basic values of the scouting organization, and engaging in fun activities like cooking, science experiments, and nature outings like hiking and camping.
In older grades, students increasingly take ownership over their scouting group and their learning focuses on developing leadership skills and engaging in community service projects.
While many scout troops are organized within a specific public or private school, any child in the community is welcome to join, and you can search on the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts websites for troops near you.
If you have a large enough homeschooling network nearby, you could also form your own troop.
Most localities have children’s sports leagues open to all community members regardless of their school affiliation.
Whether your child gets involved in soccer, swim team, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, hockey, or some other sport, participation is a great way to combine the fitness activities your child needs with a chance to develop friendships, learn new skills around hard work and resilience, and practice good teamwork.
In addition to team sports opportunities, there are many more individual athletic activities that will still give your child a chance for some exercise and physical skill development as well as time with peers.
Dance is a great option for many kids. You can probably find local dance studios as well as classes through your parks department, taking dance style-sampler classes or specializing in a particular style, such as ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, or musical theater.
Be aware that there may be significant costs involved for performance costumes and even travel for performances if your child gets heavily involved with a dance studio.
Martial arts are also a popular extracurricular activity for many kids. Most often, kids pursue karate and tae kwon do, although there are a range of types of martial arts available.
Martial arts provides fitness activities with a focus on also building self-discipline and focus, so it’s a great option for a very energetic child who sometimes has trouble containing that energy.
While in general, track teams are school-based, one good way to help your daughter develop a lifelong love of running is to try a local Girls on the Run program.
The program teaches proper running techniques and helps girls build up their training to achieve a longer goal (like running a 5K).
It also focuses on self-esteem and combatting negative stereotypes about girls. Girls on the Run offers separate programs for different age groups: one for girls in grades 3-5 and one for girls in grades 6-8.
Music is powerful for many people, and learning music through general music instruction as well as instrument and/or voice lessons is a part of the school experience for most children.
Research also shows that learning music helps improve children’s math and literacy skills, so finding some musical activities for your homeschooled children is well worth the effort!
In most communities, you can find many individuals who provide private, one-on-one lessons in piano, violin, flute, voice, etc.
Asking for recommendations on your neighborhood listserv or Facebook group can be a good way to find these local teachers.
In addition, you might reach out to any local store that provides musical instrument rentals.
These stores often have lists of local teachers (especially for instruments less often taught one-on-one, like saxophone or clarinet) or even offer individual lessons in-store.
The theater is one of those things children can experience in a school setting that simply can’t be reproduced in your home educational environment.
Luckily, in most communities, you can find at least one of several ways to get your kids involved in drama as an extracurricular activity.
First, check whether there are any local providers of drama clubs and classes for kids. You may find them offering classes and production experiences through your local parks department or independently.
Second, if you have a college nearby, you may find that their theater program provides classes or summer camps for children.
Third, your city or town may have a community theater that accepts child actors.
Wherever you find your opportunity, involvement in theater can give your kids a chance to make new friends, practice public speaking, and (if it’s a musical) even sing and dance as well!
If your child opts for backstage roles, they’ll learn skills like planning, design, carpentry, lighting techniques, and more.
Either way, they’ll learn to work hard on a long-term project where others are counting on their contributions.
Spending time serving the community provides so many life lessons to children (and adults!) that it is a key part of any child’s education.
Many service opportunities are for older kids only, although even younger kids, usually with adult supervision and participation, can often sign up for volunteer activities as well.
Some types of community service you might arrange for your kids include:
- sorting or packing items at a food pantry
- making crafts or valentines for those in military service or veterans
- visiting a senior center to participate in activities with the residents
- helping with trash cleanup or otherwise beautifying the local community (weeding in common spaces, planting flowers, etc.)
- volunteering at an animal shelter
- helping a local religious or community group with a donation drive to collect winter coats, holiday gifts for kids in need, etc.
- tutoring younger children
To find volunteer opportunities in your area, the Kids That Do Good database is a great place to start!
If your community has many homeschooling families, you may be able to find a nearby homeschool group to join.
These groups provide a sense of community for the kids (and for you as parents!). Even better, they mean you can combine efforts with other homeschool parents to create extracurricular opportunities for your kids, so you don’t have to come up with them all yourself.
Do You Know?
Homeschool groups often do things like plan group outings to local museums or plays, have social events and parties, and stage larger-scale activities that you can’t do alone, like an academic competition (debate contest, science fair, etc.).
Your local homeschool group might also provide ongoing clubs for local homeschool children, such as a chess club or league, a debate club, etc.
One place you can search for local groups is the listing at HomeSchool Mom. Don’t forget: if there is no homeschool group near you, or if it doesn’t offer the type of programming you are looking for, you can start your own!
8.Programs At The Public Library
Most public libraries offer programming for children of all ages.
For younger kids, you can usually find story times, interactive sing-along sessions, and craft activities.
For older kids, the library may offer book clubs, more advanced arts and crafts (e.g., learning to knit or sew), or clubs meeting regularly to learn about computer programming, educational games, foreign languages, etc.
And the best part about public library programming is that it is virtually always free!
4-H clubs can be another great way to get your kids to make new friends, working together toward shared goals, and learning new skills. In a 4-H club, your child might be involved in:
- arts and crafts
- learning about (and even trying their hand at) gardening and agricultural activities
- STEM activities
- community engagement
You can find a local 4-H chapter here.
We Thought You Would Like
Parents sometimes worry, when considering homeschooling, that they won’t be able to provide their kids a well-rounded education.
Academics seem easier to cover than visual and performing arts, athletics, and other extracurricular experiences.
But there are far more opportunities out there for homeschool kids than you might think! The ideas in this article are only a starting point.
With some digging, you are sure to find more enriching, exciting activities than you can count!
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nancy do it, no judgment here) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.