The socialisation issue is often discussed as a concern for parents who are considering home schooling their child – how will he or she adapt to being taught alone (or with a sibling or two)? Will he or she become more developed academically to the detriment of honing social skills? A key way in which many home schooled families help their children to meet other kids of their age or who share similar interests is through sports and sporting extra curricular activities.
Sports have many benefits for kids. They help them to learn teamwork skills, how to become a great loser as well as winner, develop personal commitment and reliability, perseverance, discipline, in addition to the big issue of helping children stay physically fit, learn about the importance of fitness for life and avoid child obesity.
What Kind of Sports Options are Available
A popular option for families who know other homeschooled kids or other families in their neighbourhood is getting local kids together to informally “pick up” ball games like football, netball and tennis through casual (though easily regular) games. These allow children to make new friends in an informal setting while they are also keeping fit, burning off some of their energy and developing some of the aforementioned skills. For parents, a chief benefit is that this option is cheap and it doesn’t require a massive time requirement to organise a team. Unfortunately, in some areas these kinds of casual sporting activities are becoming less easy to arrange as safety fears grow and the popularity of console and computer games takes over from outdoor activities.
Go to the Park
If your kids are particularly keen on a specific common sport, say football, or tennis, it can be worth taking them down to the park to see if there are other kids available looking for a game.
Selective Sports and Local Teams
Many areas will run teams and sports squads for children who want to play sports at a more competitive or frequent level. Sometimes these will involve a trial, and kids may not guaranteed playing time, or they may be less selective. Usually they will involve a trained coach and lots of other kids, and parents will have to pay a fee for their children to participate. A bonus is that there will usually be a wide array of sporting options available, from the common, like football, to the more rare, like trampolining, dance and baseball. This variety of options can help kids to find something they love to play.
Some local schools may allow home schooled kids to join the local school team, if there is a vacancy or perhaps if your child used to be involved. This option, however, will be subject to specific rules and requirements and will be up to the discretion of individual schools. The school is more likely to agree if your child was already a member of a particular team and is very upset to be leaving, but they still do not have to say ‘yes’ and may think that their legal responsibility would make it difficult to agree for your home schooled child to remain on the team. So it’s a good idea to speak to the individual head teacher involved if this might be an option for your child.