February 25, 2009

Team Sports for Home Schoolers

Back to questions! Please keep them coming.
Lobug said...

What did/do you do for sports activities for your kids? How do you get them involved in team sports when homeschooling. My 3 are really young (youngest not in school yet), and at least 2 of them are very much going to need extracurricular activities!

Hi Lobug, this is a great question and all home schoolers have this problem. Before junior high age, there seems to be a lot of sports activities through Park Districts. My kids were on the soccer teams and baseball teams. You can also find classes through the Park District in dance and gymnastics. Our local university offered a weekly gymnastics class through their PE department, and now they have a badminton club. Then there's always the YMCA. They often have a lot of classes and some competitive sports, like swimming. Even churches offer sports for all ages. My kids were in Upward Basketball at least one year. I usually heard of things through the newspaper or mailed advertisements or my friends.

When your child reaches junior high and high school age, those great activities become very limited. I guess it's because the high schools have so much going on in the sports area, other outlets can't compete. But for sports that are not offered in the high schools, you may find something. In 8th grade Melissa joined a hockey team at an area ice arena. Our high schools don't offer hockey, so this was a thriving network of teams across the Midwest. She loved it. It was a co-ed team with only two girls.

Melissa also got into Olympic Weightlifting for awhile. Yes, we homeschoolers do some interesting things! The guy at the fitness center here in town was building an Olympic Weightlifting team, so he started training some kids (all homeschoolers) and got them competing around the state. She loved that too, but had to quit when she decided to go to public school. Oh, and don't forget martial arts. My kids have done Tae Kwon Do and Ikido, and these competitions are open to all ages.

Home school associations in metropolitan areas may have their own sports league. I know Dallas has a home school athletic association.

A lot of older homeschoolers in this are are on the swim team that competes in the summer through the Park District or the YMCA. And I think we have an independent girls' softball league around here, but since Missa wasn't interested, I haven't researched it.

Another place to look for sports teams is Christian high schools. If they are not affiliated with the public school sports system, they may let homeschoolers try out and join the teams. A school here in town offers volleyball, basketball, and track.

Depending on your state laws and local cooperation, you might be able to get on a public high school team. For us, a child has to take a minimum of five classes to be eligible to play. If I understand this correctly, it's any five classes. So that could be PE, band, choir, acting, and current events. Of course, that would take up a lot of your child's day, but it's something to look into if you are desperate to get into a sport that is only offered at your high school.

You may also want to check out teams at your high school that are not part of the "system." I guess these would be considered clubs. They would have their own set of rules about who could join. I'm thinking of Lacrosse. Since Lacrosse is not an Illinois High School Association sponsored sport, kids have to pay to participate (no state funding) and fewer regulations.

One of the big reasons Melissa wanted to try public school was for the sports. And she is in them like crazy! She was on the girls' basketball team, and now she's in track. The whole public high school thing is working for her, at least for now.

Meg, on the other hand, is still fully home schooled. She has expressed a desire to be on a sports team, and we've talked about her trying out at the Christian school, but she's not that motivated. She's mostly into dance and acting through our local theater that offers classes and does a yearly musical. Peter was never much into team sports except for baseball and soccer for a few years in elementary school. He does, however, love martial arts and ballroom dance.

So in a nutshell, look here:
  • Park Districts
  • YMCAs
  • Gymnastic Centers
  • Dance Centers
  • Colleges
  • Ice Arenas
  • Fitness Centers
  • Martial Arts Centers
  • Churches
  • Christian Schools
  • Home School Associations
  • Public School sports clubs
And when there's no team, there's roller blading and bicycle clubs, and Olympic training in whatever you want, if you can find a trainer!


Lobug said...

Thank you, Jena!! I will be looking into those!!

Traci said...

All good suggestions. We run into money being a factor. Perhaps someday that will change.

Jena said...

Yes, we homeschoolers have to pay for our sports--no tax money behind us! But there are some ways to work around this. I know one family who trades cleaning the dance studio once a week for free dance lessons. Church programs are usually free or low cost, and the Y has reduced rates depending on your income. When Melissa did hockey, she also had a paper route, so she paid for half of it. Hockey is an expensive sport!

Over the years I've looked at it this way--homeschooling is not free like public schooling, but it's also cheaper than private schools. Sometimes we have to shell out more money than we'd like to, but only if it really meets an important need in our child. I call it a school expense.

Even our local theatre where the kids take dance, singing and acting has scholarships and reduced rates based on income. Just some looking and creative thinking and you might be surprised what you can do.

Jena said...

I forgot to mention that the hockey program was free for first-timers. That saved us several hundred dollars, but the equipment and gas were expensive. I did some research on the internet first to find the least expensive program for her, and this was it.

Jena said...

I should just count to 10 before I hit "publish" because I thought of something else. The ice rink had some equipment we borrowed and we bought other things from a used sports equipment store. And they'll buy things back when we want to sell.

Unknown said...

Jena, should we be concerned that we are sending a mixed message to the government that we can stand on our own two feet as homeschooling families and yet using the public school as an educational resource? Some say that it leaves us open to increased government control when we really want complete independence-no hitches. what are your thoughts/opinions:)

Jena said...

Hi Christy,

That's a good question. If we aren't using the public schools to get a diploma, they don't have much control over us. All they can do is close the door and say we can't use the public schools any more, unless we decide to put our kids in full time. That's OK with me. We'll just stop using them.

For us, using the public schools for a class here or there is simply a free educational resource (well, not free--we've already paid the taxes.)

But a parent needs to be wise. If your child is not self-confident enough or emotionally mature enough to handle time at the public school, just stay away. But truly, if you are only taking one or two classes, your child is with you more than at school, with plenty of time to debrief.

Another issue is whether or not you want the public system to know you exist. :) I liked staying home and under the radar for many years.

If you go whole hog into a public education system (even at home), then yes, the government can say what you can and can not do with your kids and they can test them and withhold graduation, etc.

You just have to look at the whole situation and decide if using the public schools would be to your benefit or not.

Great question!

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