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As the official school year starts, I’m contemplating the activities in which to enrol my kids. There are so many to opportunities for homeschoolers now, even in our small town – besides the various sports, there are dance classes of various kinds, a homeschoolers’ chess club, science experiment club, robotics, art classes, pottery, music lessons, drama and more…and they all offer so many opportunities for growth and development of skills and talents.
Like most homeschool moms, I am wary of taking on too much, turning my afternoons into hectic taxi-ing stints. Time is a factor. Of even more concern is the budget. The opportunities may seem limitless but the finances are most certainly not.
Some homeschoolers don’t take any sport or extra-murals. This keeps life simple and saves money, but this is my challenge to you:
CAN YOU AFFORD TO NOT LET YOUR CHILDREN DO SPORT OR OTHER EXTRA-MURALS?
I thought we let our children do activities for fun and exercise mostly, until the hard times came and I realised how their sport was developing their characters. I will use one child as an example, but the others have had similar experiences with other activities: dancing, tennis, soccer, cricket, robotics, music lessons and various other activities in which they have had opportunities to participate, in different seasons of our homeschooling journey.
When out of the blue my child insisted that she wanted to give up the sport that had been her passion for three years, I knew something was wrong. She had never once complained about gymnastics, but suddenly she was disillusioned after seeing gymnasts from another club, of a higher standard than herself. After many tears, we convinced her not to quit when she was feeling down, but to persevere until the end of the year and then make a decision. The next year she trained at that club and won her first gold medal.
She learned that winners never quit.
Besides that, she has learned that hours and hours and years and years of hard work and training pays off. She has learned to set her own goals. She has learned to take care of her body. She has learned how to treat stiff sore muscles with a warm bath and Epsom salts. She has learned the importance of getting enough rest and going to bed early. She has become the ‘food policeman’ in our home as she understands the importance of a healthy diet.
She has also learned to deal with disappointments, like injuries that kept her from training, competing or achieving her goals. She has learned to deal with stress and nerves before a competition.
She has learned good sportsmanship. She has learned to be modest when she wins. She has learned not to be a sore loser when she doesn’t. She has had to learn from mistakes and oversights and try again. She has learned to support others and cheer them on. She has learned to rejoice in the successes of her fellow team mates.
She has learned to submit to the authority of her coaches and trust their wisdom and experience. She has allowed them to speak into her life and to equip her both mentally and physically with what it takes to perform well.
She has learned to appreciate what it costs to travel far to competitions as she had to arrange a fundraising event to earn the money to attend one of them. She paid for her own tracksuit and leotard for that event too.
She has volunteered, coached and judged at gymnastics competitions and seen what goes on behind the scenes to make an event a success. This has given her great insight into event planning and event management – skills which she can use in other situations.
She started her own gymnastics business, coaching beginners at a local gym.
Her sport has not just given her opportunities to develop her talents and to taste success, but it has grown her character and developed attributes in her which she will carry with her throughout her life. I can’t measure the value of that.
When your children do sport and other activities – whether it is horse riding, playing the violin, swimming or mastering the game of chess, you are not just paying for healthy exercise or cultural activities – which are good things in themselves. You are paying for valuable life experience and character development, which is priceless.
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