When we first decided to homeschool, I’ll admit that I worried some about my son not having enough opportunities to be around other kids. I was afraid he might become “that weird homecshooled kid” that looked and acted differently. I imagined long days spent at home. I was a fool.
As I’ve said before, homeschooled kids have more opportunities outside the home than ever before. If you want to find a play group or a co-op or a nature study group or a museum class or any number of things, you don’t have to look very far. And when you’re starting out and you have those fears, it’s really easy to sign up for every single thing you find, just because you can. Sometimes, though, outside activities can be too much of a good thing, and you have to learn to just say no.
During my son’s kindergarten and first grade years, I think I did a pretty good job of keeping his weekday activities to a minimum. We were part of a nature study group and he was taking gymnastics once a week, and with a new baby, that was more than enough. This year, though, things have gotten a bit crazy. First, I signed him up for a geography class a friend was teaching at her home. It’s only a couple of afternoons a month, so I thought that would be good. I also had decided to sign him up for the PE class at our community center. For a whole semester, he was getting two hours a week of fun for less than I was paying for a month of gymnastics classes! And then speech therapy came up: twice a week. And then PE was expanded to two days a week. And now we have a really full week!
One of the reasons we decided on homeschooling was the ability to spend our days at home, and that’s easy not to do when there are so many good choices out there. I’ve discovered that too much time outside the home can lead to a lot of stress for all of us, though. We have to hurry to complete lessons before going to afternoon activities and then of course my two year old has to go along to all of her brother’s events, too. And me? If we’ve been out all day, I am not the mom I need to be, let alone the teacher I need to be.
Next year we’re going to have to make some changes. We’re not going to do an outside academic class, and I’m really hoping my son will test out of speech before third grade is up. That would leave us with PE, which my son loves and I enjoy, too, since I get a bit of time to sit and read while my daughter naps! Already I am thinking that maybe we could add in a nature study group or something a couple of times a month, but I’m trying to not commit to anything too early.
I’ve learned that just because there are great opportunities out there, it doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of every single one of them at once. Now I just need to get better at putting what I’ve learned into practice.