Back to Back Issues Page
Extra Curricular Activities and the Family - Issue 146
April 09, 2010
Hi there! ....

This week has been the first week of the school holidays for us though we prefer to call it a study break. I set up a different routine for these two weeks, you can read about it on my blog. The main idea is that we spend 1-2 hours a day on a focused study. Daniel and Nomi have both chosen a ‘delight’ subject – a topic that they wanted to learn about at this time. I find that when we have a little table time even during ‘days off’ everyone stays a little more focused and productive. Idle hands lead to trouble! (Ecc 10:18 – If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks.)

Live life with your kids!

Extra Curricular Activities and the Family

Do you find yourself saying "I wish I was at home more"? There are seasons in our life that we are simply not at home. But we need to be aware of these seasons and make sure that we know why and that we are okay with that. It is all too easy to get swept up in a busy outside home life while our heart is missing the things that we do at home as a family.

One of the opportunities that we have as families (whether we are homeschooling or not) are ‘extacurricular activities’. Are they important?

According to Wikipedia, extracurricular activities are activities performed by students that fall outside the realm of the normal curriculum of school or university education. Initially extracurricular activities were extensions of a student’s particular studies or pursuits in life – they enhanced where the student was going. These days extracurricular activities are more about being seen to be social, being the best, doing what everyone else is doing – there is not much thought about the individual child’s purpose when deciding what to take on.

The thing that jumped out at me with that Wikipedia definition was “activities … .outside the realm of the normal curriculum”. Discipleship homeschooling takes into account the growth and development of the whole child – there is no outside the realm of normal curriculum. If the child needs to learn something that then becomes a part of our normal curriculum.

Because extracurricular activities are traditionally seen outside of school, they are activities that are run outside of school hours. Which has meant homeschoolers have taken to filling our afternoon hours with ‘extra curricular activities’ – filling our mornings and our afternoons with learning activity.

I think we need to seriously consider these activities and how they fit into our days:

  1. We need to choose activities that enhance each individual child’s growth and development. Do they need piano to follow their bents? Do they need drama lessons, debate opportunities, sport clubs etc to be all that God has made them? Some will, some won’t.
  2. Can we meet these needs
    • During the day, not mid-late afternoon? or
    • As a whole family?
  3. We need to plan our days taking these activities into account

I think this third point is the key - If these activities are indeed a part of the education and discipleship of our children they need to be seen as such, and not as extras. We cannot keep taking on activities, projects and learning opportunities – something has to give. We need to look at our whole day, not the morning for learning and the afternoon for extra curricular – our whole day is an opportunity to train our children. When we have this whole day approach we may not do ‘lessons’ in the morning because we are going to be doing ‘activities’ in the afternoon. We need to find this balance throughout the week.

Two other thoughts that have helped me find balance are:

  1. Extra curricular activities can be fun and that is okay – we all need relaxation and fun in our lives – but at what cost? If it puts the whole family under stress we seriously reconsider.
  2. Our children have their whole lives ahead of them – they do not need to learn everything now – some things they can take on as adults.

We need to be honest about the effects of these activities on our family life.

  1. Time – it takes time shuffling our children around from one activity to the next. How would this time be best used?
  2. Money – most of these activities incur cost. Multiply that cost for each activity by each child – it adds up. Are you getting value for money? Can you gain what you do gain another way?
  3. Stress – what are the effects of being in the car, on the road, not at home, on your family – on you, on your younger children? Are you tired? Eating unhealthy choices? Not doing the things that you truly want to do because you are in the car?

The biggest cost to me is relationship building opportunities – when we are busy going from activity to activity, when kids are here and there we miss relationship building time. Sure, we are in the car together and you can use that time wisely, but most often or not we are quickly eating a snack, or still smarting from those sharp words while we rushed to be on time, or we are tired and just want to zone out. On the other hand when we balance our activities (our comings, goings and staying at home) we find ourselves fresh and invigorated, able to give to each other.

I’m not saying these activities aren’t worth it – but we must make conscious decisions about what we want for our family, not just be swept along by what everyone else is doing.

Website Updates
There are no updates this week but if you are starting out homeschooling, or are changing your perceptions you may enjoy some of these articles Starting out Discipleship Homeschool

Blog Updates
This week I posted twice:
Focus time during school holidays

Overview of Discipleship Family Life

Learning Happens

What a productive day

My Lesson Planning Form

Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.

Heart Focus Parenting - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

Back Issues
If you have just subscribed to Live life with your Kids! then you can read back issues here.
Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

Contact me: If you have any comments, questions or content ideas I'd love to hear from you. Make your comment here.

Know somebody who'd like to read this? We really hope that you've enjoyed reading this newsletter. If you think your friends might be interested in taking a look, please feel free to forward it to them.

Haven't subscribed yet? If you're reading this on the recommendation of a friend and would like to receive all the future editions, you can Subscribe here for free

About Live Life with your kids Newsletter I know homeschool mums are busy with lots to read, so I have divided my newsletter into four sections and you will receive one section a week; short but regular newsletters!
  • Be a Deliberate Parent – Encouragement to continue in purposeful and intentional parenting.
  • Family Life – Spotlights on a particular aspect of family life so we can see the natural opportunities available to us in educating our children.
  • Character Education – Each month we focus on a different character trait – The newsletter will include application for Mums, as well as seeing character training opportunities in everyday life.
  • A Homeschool Thought – Discussing homeschool issues

The newsletter will also keep you updated with all additions to Lifestyle-Homeschool

Back to Back Issues Page