Believe it or not, I have actually talked to people who wouldn’t consider homeschooling because they “knew their kids wouldn’t be able to play sports and do extracurricular stuff in high school.” Yes, really. True story.
I admit, this is one of those comments that usually results in me not even bothering to comment and walking away. It’s one thing to have questions and not know how to go about researching and getting answers. It’s another thing entirely to make broad assumptions and erroneous conclusions based on something (like extra curricular activities) that your child may not even be interested in years down the road.
“Um, you know they are *extra* curricular, as in EXTRA; like, beyond or more than what is usual or expected; or more than what is *necessary* or needed? You know, EXTRA, as in, not essential?”
Come to find out, the bit about being essential is actually a sticking point for some folks, who feel that without those things, school just isn’t worth it. Certainly, my own recollections of high school reflect that the only things that made that time tolerable for me was all the extra curricular stuff I was doing.
I’ve heard people say, “They are only kids once. They have their whole lives to work and be responsible and unhappy.”(yes, really!) “At least they can look back with fond memories of their time in school, when they played football/basketball/baseball or were cheerleaders. I loved high school. If I could go back in time and stay in once place, it would be high school.” “If I could do one time in my life over, knowing then what I know now, it would be high school. I’d have soooooo much fun!”
Is that what’s wrong with us as a society? It makes me wonder. What if we could encourage our kids to find their natural paths; to pursue the kind of learning they are passionate about and interested in, instead of forcing them to focus on testing and taking subjects they won’t retain, just because some strangers somewhere decided “x,y, and z” would make Johnny a well-rounded individual?
What’s wrong with being focused and passionate about a few things? I was well-rounded and exposed to all kinds of things. As an adult, I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. What would have happened had I been allowed to pursue full-force the things that really interested me?
Some will argue that if kids aren’t exposed to all kinds of things that they will never know all the opportunities in the world available to them. I think we can hand the world (and all those opportunities) to our kids on a silver platter and they still might not find their niche. Why? Because if we don’t allow them to immerse themselves in their interests, and give them the space to pursue those things, they may not find out for themselves how far they want to take it. Who says we can only discover our interests (or do extra curricular activities) in a school setting?
And what on earth *does* that have to do with extra curricular activities?
I believe that it’s never a good idea to think that we are the only ones who know what’s best for our kids. Maybe our kids know what is best. Maybe they don’t know it now, but if we give them the chance, they CAN figure it out, so long as we don’t stand in their way.
Believe it or not, just because a child is homeschooled, that may not preclude him/her from participating in public school extra curricular activities. I know that may be a shock, so I’ll say it again. Even if you homeschool, your child may be able to participate in extra curricular activities in the local public high school.
In fact, many states have regulations that are clearly defined allowing homeschooled students the option to participate in team sports and other extra curricular activities. Are you surprised? I know I was!
Depending on where you live, your kids may be able to legally participate in sports and other extra curricular activities, like band/orchestra.
State Laws Concerning Participation of Homeschool Students in Public School Activities is a good place to start. Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll need to contact your local school district if you choose to take advantage of the opportunities available to you. In many cases, the people who you come into contact within your local schools won’t know state regulations, particularly the newer ones. You’ll want to make sure you have information with statute numbers, so if it’s called into question, you are the one providing the (current) information and not the other way around.
It took me literally minutes, and I was able to find an update to my state’s law concerning homeschooling and extracurricular activities. Instead of only being eligible to participate in three athletic activities, homeschoolers are now able to participate in all public school activities governed by my state’s activities association. Nice, huh?
Schools can (and usually do) have requirements for student participation in activities, particularly sports, so it’s important to know what those are as well, in addition to knowing your state regulations. Another point to consider is that many schools participate in athletic associations, which are usually free to make their own rules and regulations, and it may be *these* regulations (instead of school/district policy) that prohibit participation of those not enrolled full-time in public school.
For more information on the discussion of equal access, a good place to start is here. To learn more about the variables in this debate, read these articles:
I fall firmly in the camp of believing in low regulation of homeschoolers, and I believe that regulating any aspect of homeschooling (like whether or not homeschoolers can participate in public school athletics, for example) opens the door for additional regulations. Without opening that can of worms, let me just say that I/we believe in freedom and that the government has gotten too involved in our lives in general.
If you happen to live in a state where homeschoolers aren’t eligible to participate in any school activities, don’t despair! There are other options, even for team sports. At the younger (read: non high school) ages, opportunities are numerous for team sports. There are all kinds of community team activities people (including kids) of all ages can participate in, so don’t be afraid to do some digging while you think outside the box!