Homeschool Activities – Tips For Finding and Choosing Fun Programs For Your Child

By Carletta Sanders

Although many parents are concerned about socialization, there are many homeschool activities available for children who are educated at home. When choosing homeschooling activities, look for activities that are inexpensive and age appropriate. Here are some places you can find activities for your children:

Church – Church activities are not always limited to church members. Many churches offer sports, Sunday school, choir, drama, vacation Bible school and other programs to residents of the community.
Sports – Homeschoolers can participate in sports through the recreation centers, church programs, competitive leagues and home school leagues. In some states, homeschooled children can participate in programs offered by their local public schools.
Private Lessons – Many home school students take dance, music, skating, swimming, gymnastics or art lessons during daytime hours at local studios.
Civic Organizations – 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and similar organizations welcome participation from children who are home educated.
Support Groups – Homeschool support groups sponsor a variety of social and educational activities like park days, science clubs, debate teams and field trips.
Libraries – Public libraries often offer book clubs, story times, writer’s groups and other educational programs for homeschoolers. Some libraries provide local support groups with advertising and meeting space.
Your children can also volunteer for a local food bank, homeless shelter, nursing home, hospital or after school program. High school students may want to intern in a field of interest or work at a part time job.

Because there are so many opportunities available to homeschoolers, it is tempting to take on too many commitments. Consider travel time and preparation time when choosing activities, and be considerate of younger members of your family who will have to sit and wait for older siblings.

Discuss the program’s requirements and expectations for your behavior with your children, and agree upon a time period for remaining in the program before trying something new.

Here are some additional tips for choosing homeschool activities for your family. For homeschooling information and ideas delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for Carletta’s homeschool newsletter.

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Unschooling Conference in San Diego

Thought I would pass on this newsblast I got about an upcoming unschooling conference. Sounds like a great opportunity. I will pass on any other news about that gets sent to me.

I wanted to let everyone know there is an unschooling conference being planned in San Diego for September 10-13, 2009! Good Vibrations Unschooling Conference. It’s going to be an amazing event. My good friend is the organizer and she has an incredible speaker line-up already, and lots of creative workshop ideas (I’m not allowed to divulge all the info yet).

You can sign up for a newsletter on the website http://www.goodvibrationsconference.com

Homeschool Park Days – The Answer to “What About Socialization”?

By Diane Flynn Keith

Whether you are thinking about homeschooling or plan to begin homeschooling you’ve probably been asked the question, “What about socialization?” Contrary to popular myth, homeschooling children are rarely isolated, and in research studies conducted by public and private organizations, including the U.S. Department of Education, homeschoolers have been shown to be better socialized than their school-going peers.

Homeschoolers typically have very busy calendars and too many opportunities for socialization because they get together weekly with other families through homeschool support group PARK DAYS! At Park Days, parents ask questions and get information about every aspect of homeschooling while kids meet and play with homeschool friends. As parents share resources they will often cobble together field trips, co-op classes, math competitions, spelling bees, homeschool choirs and bands, and even parties and proms based on their children’s interests and needs.

Going to your first Park Day can be a little awkward – it’s like going to a party where you don’t know anyone. Some groups have designated “greeters” who will welcome you and introduce you to others, but most do not. Because parents may be preoccupied with their own kids or with talking to friends – it may feel a little “unwelcoming” at first. That means you may have to step outside your comfort zone and be assertive.

Take some friendly initiative to introduce yourself and your children and ask questions. By doing that you may meet another family or two that you “click” with – and that will open the door to all kinds of educational and social opportunities for you and your children. However, that doesn’t always happen on a first visit.

My rule of thumb is this: Go to the same Park Day at least THREE TIMES before you determine whether or not it’s a good fit for you and your family. That’s because not all of the people who belong to the support group attend the Park Day every week. Keep going back and you will eventually meet most of the “regulars.”

If you go to a Park Day at least three times and you still don’t make a connection, then try another Park Day held by a different support group. You may have to travel out of your immediate area to find just the right one for your family. Be willing to make the investment of time and gas money to do so – because making connections with other homeschool families is critical to your long-term success in homeschooling.

How do you find Homeschool Park Days? Contact your local Homeschool Support Group. The National Home Education Network website provides a regional and worldwide listing.

It will serve you well to call or email the contact person for the group before you go to the Park Day. Find out:

The name of a parent you can ask for when you get to the park.
Ask if there are other children that are your child’s age who attend the Park Day.
Find out if the group has specific rules for behavior or conduct. (Some do, some don’t.)
Ask if the group meets at the same park each week, on the same day and time. (Some groups change locations, or rotate from one park to another.)
Getting this information in advance will save you time and frustration.
When you go to a Park Day for the first time – try to keep your expectations in check. Just tell the kids you’re going to the park and that you may or may not meet some new people there. That way, if you don’t make any connections – you can still enjoy your time at a new park with your children without any disappointment about not meeting new friends.

After attending several support group Park Days at least three times, if you still haven’t made a connection – then consider starting your own group. If you decide to do that visit homeschool mom Annette Hall’s website – LocalHS.com to get some good suggestions from parents who have been there, done that. (Be sure to click on the titles of the paragraphs – they link to further resources and information.)

Do make the effort to connect with the community that already exists first. It is very likely you will be rewarded with lasting friendships that will provide the support, encouragement, and social interaction you need as you begin your homeschool journey.

Copyright 2008, Diane Flynn Keith, All Rights Reserved.

Diane Flynn Keith publishes the rave-reviewed Homefires Ezine with thousands of subscribers. If you’re ready to save time and money, ease your anxiety, and learn how to have fun homeschooling, get your FREE subscription now at http://www.Homefires.com

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