I would like to give you a picture of what our life with extracurricular activities was like one year ago. Keep in mind that Sera only participated in one extra activity, and Amelie participated in two. I don’t think that’s wildly outrageous for elementary school kids. But what WAS wildly outrageous, was this schedule:
Sera swim from 4:30-5:30
Amelie ballet from 5:00-6:30
The problem, obviously, is that Sera’s swimming overlapped with Amelie’s ballet and they were on opposite sides of town.
Also problematic, was that one parent had to stay on the premises during swimming.
And one more slightly important detail: We are a one-car family.
I know a lot of moms wish they could clone themselves. Yes, despite the ethical dilemma that would present (if it were even possible), I think I would have preferred it to the solution we came up with.
This is how we spent 2 nights a week for FOUR months.
30 minutes to pick up the girls from school in West Nashville.
20 minutes to Josh’s office downtown to pick him up.
20 minutes to the Green Hills YMCA for swim.
I would then leave Josh with Sera, and force Amelie to squeeze into ballet tights as quickly as humanly possible so we could get in the car again, and I would drive:
25 minutes to East Nashville to drop Amelie off at ballet.
25 minutes BACK to the Green Hills YMCA to pick up Josh and Sera.
25 minutes back to East Nashville to pick Amelie back up.
Then it was a 10 minute drive home, where I would collapse on the couch unable to prepare dinner at 6:45pm. Sometimes I was too tired to even make the salad to go along with the crock pot dinner that was waiting. So I would leave it in there. And go out. Thanks Las Maracas, for feeding my family so many nights.
This year one of our goals was to just REST. I wanted to be with the girls more and drive the car less. But I also loved what the girls were learning through their extracurriculars. Amelie is advancing in ballet, and I think it’s something she will be doing for years. Each year she becomes more serious about it, and that means longer, more frequent practices.
One huge benefit of homeschooling is that we are able to manage more “extracurriculars” than last year, but we are also HOME more, and I hardly ever have to drive out of my neighborhood.
This post is about to get very Nashville specific, but I would love to draw attention to the many amazing opportunities there are in our neighborhood for anyone who is curious. Particularly any East Nashville folk who are interested in the way our homeschool tribe/community works.
These are just the activities that we have been involved with:
Amelie does a “homeschool” tumbling class on Monday afternoons. This class is offered through Dance East, and the cost is $45 per month. Amelie LOVES gymnastics, but this is likely her last year because ballet will become more demanding. The classes are very low-key and noncompetitive. I was specifically looking for a place that did very low-impact gymnastics (no high beam, etc.) and that would not pressure Amelie to join a team. We have been very pleased.
Newspaper Club – Music City News
Students write and produce an edition of their own newspaper, “The Music City News,” every three months. The class is $90 for a 3 month session. Sera has signed up to write two articles and to take pictures for her articles. She is so excited! Journalism coaches (writers, photographers, etc.) provide feedback at regular meetings. Kids can write columns, articles, comics, etc. Local businesses buy ad space. The paper looks really amazing. A mom in our homeschool community is currently leading this class.
Although not a homeschool class, this is in our neighborhood and several homeschool families are a part of it. It largely serves underprivileged students in the neighborhood, and I am thankful that Amelie is making neighborhood friends that she might otherwise not have met. For those who qualify for free or reduced lunch, the cost is $96 per year. For everyone else, the fees operate on a sliding scale. We could never afford this quality of dance instruction anywhere else. It is a gift. This is Amelie’s 4th year. She will perform in Peter and the Wolf in the spring, and will audition for the pre-professional track next year.
Sera did this in the fall, and we haven’t decided if she’ll continue in the spring, but she did like it. The swim club runs on 6-week intervals. For each six week session (1 practice per week), the rates are $50 for those who pay full YMCA membership fees, and $25 for those who pay income-based or sliding scale YMCA membership fees. For additional practices per week, the prices increase.
These are all of the activities we have tried, but I know there are many, many more activities available to homeschoolers in our neighborhood. There are opportunities to run (Aero), to climb (Climb Nashville), to act (Theater Bug), to cook, to paint, to do pottery, and probably a lot more that I am missing.
If you are having a hard time finding extracurricular activities in your area, maybe you could start a class with another parent, or perhaps a tutor or specialist would be willing to teach the class if everyone pitched in to pay for his or her time.
Often local organizations (YMCA, Athletic Club, Dance Studio, Art Studio, etc.) will consider offering a special rate for a midday meeting time if you can collect enough homeschoolers to form a class (this is how one mom got the swim club started at our Y).
Whatever you do, make sure you don’t over schedule yourself like we did last year. Even homeschoolers fall prey to overcommitment–in fact, sometimes I find it harder than ever to say “no” because there are so many opportunities and it feels like we have so much available time. In reality, we can manage about 1-2 activities per kid, and I crave time at home to simply relax, read, and be together!