Homeschooling is a deeply personal decision; it took me years of wrestling with the idea before I decided to take the plunge. But I am so glad I did! Looking back over my 14 years of homeschooling I see so many benefits! And high on the list–the ways homeschooling helps balance my kids’ activities.
One of my daughters competed in USA gymnastics for many years. I can’t even imagine keeping up with her health and schedule had we not been homeschooling. Currently, my middle school daughter dances with a pre-professional ballet company 20+ hours a week. Homeschooling has made it possible to balance her activities, academics, and family life!
For kids participating in high/elite level activities, homeschooling offers unique benefits!
5 ways Homeschooling Helps Balance My Kids’ Activities
Some elite level sports programs and dance studios begin practice before a traditional school day ends! Many of my friends have had to make special arrangements for an early dismissal time with their child’s school–sometimes having to miss entire blocks of class. As you can imagine, some schools (and teachers) are more willing to work with parents in these situations than others. However, homeschooling completely alleviates the problem! I never had to negotiate my daughter’s gymnastics schedule between school and coaches.
Even if your highly athletic/active child doesn’t begin practice early–there are other situations that pop-up which require them to be pulled out of school…(tournaments, meets, competitions, performances). We were always able to travel for gymnastics meets when it best suited our family, never worrying about what might be missed at school (or having to explain the absences). I truly love the freedom and flexibility homeschooling has provided!
Planning for the Busy Times
If your child is highly involved and invested in an activity, then you know . . . there are certain times of the year when that activity becomes a major focal point! Every sport has its own season. For us, gymnastics meets took up almost every weekend from January-March! With ballet, we have the Nutcracker in December! The great thing about homeschooling is you can build a cushion into your child’s academic calendar!
For example, my middle school daughter doesn’t like to be distracted by a lot of school work during the week of her performances. She does extra work the week or two before a show, so then she can relax and spend more time focusing on dance during the week of a performance.
During gymnastics meet season, my oldest daughter would do extra-school work at the beginning of the week, which freed her to focus on the upcoming meet later in the week.
Homeschooling provides the perfect opportunity to plan and design a school year which accommodates intensive activities (performances, tournaments, meets, competitions, etc.)!
Extra Sleep and Rest
All kids need a lot of sleep and rest to support their growing bodies and immune systems–but extremely physically active kids especially need a little extra rest! Their bodies are working so hard during the day! In addition, their muscles are recovering, restoring, and rejuvenating during sleep. I’m so thankful my daughter can sleep-in and get the full rest her body needs to stay healthy–no waking up at 6 a.m and rushing to school (or staying up late to finish homework)!
For all the great things about having physically active kids–one major downside is the injuries that can come with it! This is more of an issue for some activities than others…When my daughter was a gymnast, we visited the sports medicine doctor and physical therapist on a regular basis! My ballet dancer has dealt with much few injuries–but she’s still had her share of doctor visits and therapy for nagging muscle strains. Homeschool allows us to schedule doctor appointments at convenient times for our family. We don’t have to worry about missing school or practice!
Family and Down Time
The fact is, I would hardly ever see my 14-year-old daughter if she wasn’t homeschooled. When my oldest daughter was a competitive gymnast, it was the same situation.
Without homeschooling, our days would look something like this: Get up early, rush to school, rush to dance (or gymnastics), get home late (starving and exhausted), eat, do homework, and crash to sleep.
Instead, our homeschool days look like this:
- Get up when the body is ready and rested (depending on the child: between 7 and 9 am).
- Relax–eat a healthy breakfast, morning quiet time, and begin school work.
- Finish school work by 1 or 2 pm.
- Eat a healthy lunch.
- Go to dance class (and get there early).
- Come home, eat, and relax with family.
- Go to sleep at a good time.
During the day, before going dance, we are together! Watching the news, sharing funny stories, discussing school work. My daughter makes lunch and breakfast for herself and often me, too! She is there helping me change a few diapers and taking a break outside with her little siblings. And when she comes home, there is no stress about homework or projects due at school tomorrow. We watch TV together. She takes long relaxing baths, reads, and makes YouTube videos! It’s a pretty chilled out and creative life! We love it!
When our kids are highly involved in activities–it creates a unique path for them and special circumstances for our families. Homeschooling offers a great lifestyle for busy kids and families, providing a way to achieve a balance between academics, special talents, and family time.
Jen Merckling is a former elementary teacher and has been homeschooling her 6 kids for 14 years–she’s got 3 teens, a kindergartener, and 3-year old miracle twins. In the middle of dishes, diapers, and laundry–you can find her blogging about the homeschool life at jenmerckling.com.
This article is part of the I Homeschool Because . . . series. Click here to read other articles in this series, download the free eBook, You Can Do It, Too: 25 homeschool families share their stories, and enter a giveaway from Kiwi Crate valued at more than $200.