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Whether you’re a parent exploring strategies to make the most of your child’s homeschooling experience, or you’re a homeschooling student yourself looking to add a bit of interest and excitement to your studies, you have a lot of extracurricular activities to choose from. But how do you select the one that’s right for you? It all depends on your interests and your goals.
Why Extracurricular Activities Matter
When you’re homeschooling, it can be easy to become so focused on academics that you allow the extracurriculars to fall to the wayside. This can be a mistake, though, for many reasons. First and foremost, extracurricular activities can be essential to the overall well-being of homeschool students.
Engaging in extracurricular activities, for example, can significantly improve your physical and mental health. Often, these activities will get you out of the house and into the community. You’ll be required to be more physically active and to interact with others. These connections can quickly evolve into friendships, which are vital to mental health.
In addition to the physical and mental health benefits of extracurricular activities, though, there are also important experiential rewards as well.
For example, doing volunteer work in your community is more than just personally rewarding. It can also provide excellent experiences that can give you a distinct advantage when you apply to college or enter the workforce. When you do volunteer work, for instance, you’re inevitably going to be required to develop essential soft skills that employers and college admissions boards are searching for. These include key communication, problem-solving, and relationship-building capabilities.
Participating in Sports
You don’t have to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar school to engage in team sports. As a homeschooled student, you can always join a community team or even a club designed specifically for homeschooled students in your area.
To be sure, you may need to do a bit of research to find the team and the sport that are right for you, but the payoff can be immense. Research shows, for example, that participating in team sports is beneficial for mental health.
Not only will you reap the emotional rewards of the social connections you build with your teammates, but you’ll also benefit mentally from the physical advantages that athletics provide. In other words, you’re going to feel better. You will likely become fitter, more agile, and more conditioned. That can leave you feeling more energetic, motivated, self-confident, and engaged overall.
In addition, the research shows that competitive sports can also teach children and teens invaluable lessons in persistence and resilience. You learn, in short, to deal with defeat when it comes, as it inevitably will, and then to learn from and, ultimately, overcome it. These are powerful skills to bring to work, school, and life in general!
Design Your Own Project
If team sports are not necessarily your thing, that doesn’t mean you have to give up extracurriculars and the advantages they bring entirely. In fact, designing your own extracurricular projects can be interesting, challenging, and deeply rewarding.
The key, though, is to consider where your interests lie. Are you into art or photography? Then why not take a watercolor class or take a job interning at your local photography studio? You might even design your own community art projects, such as taking photographs or painting portraits for residents of a nearby retirement home or long-term care facility. Such projects can readily morph into a fascinating career or, at the very least, a profound experience to include on your college resume.
If you’re more mechanically inclined, you also have lots of options to choose from. For instance, if you have a gear head in the family, why not enlist them in helping you to restore a vintage car? This can provide an excellent learning experience that may well translate into a career as a mechanic or an engineer.
If you choose to sell the car, then that can boost your nest egg for your transition to college or your first home or apartment. Best of all, if you’re partnering with an experienced friend or family member, the restoration project can be a terrific way to connect, turning a relative or an acquaintance into a mentor!
When you’re homeschooling, academics often assume center stage, particularly for teenagers preparing for college or the workforce. Extracurricular activities can seem tangential, and even optional, in comparison. However, extracurricular activities can provide immense benefits, from enhancing physical and mental health to supporting essential soft skills that employers and college admissions boards crave. Choosing the right extracurricular activity, though, can be challenging. The key is to assess where your goals and interests lie. These factors can help guide you into team sports, volunteer work, or unique extracurricular projects that may become the stepping stone to a rewarding career!