It’s the end of summer and that means it’s Back to School time! While most folks are busy picking out school supplies and buying new shoes for their kids, there is one group of parents who may be doing things a bit differently – the homeschooling community. Start dates may vary, each family can decide on what curriculum to choose, but one thing will stay the same: making sure your kids get their annual physicals or well-check visits at least once a year.
In 2012, only 3% of the U.S. population homeschooled, but has since grown in popularity because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are now at least 11% of American families who are choosing to homeschool their children for a variety of reasons. Because more families are choosing to teach their kids at home, the parents may miss many of the institutional prompts and health requirements that the public school system currently offers. This can be especially concerning for children’s health and wellness checks.
Because homeschooling families may miss out on these annual notices for health checks, the local urgent care facilities may be their quickest and best option if a physical or health checkup is needed for sports or other group activities. As homeschoolers, sports and extracurricular activities are even more important to cover some of the socialization aspect – enabling kids to socialize with other children is essential when teaching at home. For many kids, a quick sports physical at the nearest urgent care location is all they will need to be able to participate. Here are some great extracurricular opportunities for your kids if you are homeschooling this year:
- Sports and fitness/recreation – swimming, volleyball, basketball, football, baseball, little league, soccer, water polo, horseback riding, track and field, martial arts, going to the local gym or YMCA.
- Fine arts – music, theater arts, choir, dance, singing, art, graphic design, sewing, sculpture, photography, drawing, knitting
- Clubs – chess club, book club, cooking club, robotics club, astronomy club, writing club, anime club, etc. (check with your local library – most have younger children and teen programming already available).
- Scouting programs – Boy Scouts, AWANA, Pioneer Club, Trail Life, Girl Scouts, American Heritage Girls, Frontier Girls, 4-H.
- Volunteer opportunities – Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, Adopt a Highway, volunteering at a local hospital, food banks, soup kitchens.
- Outdoors – go to parks, go walking with family or friends, outside playdates, nature walks, nature groups, parks and rec classes, hiking, boating, swimming.
- Hobbies – scrapbooking, drawing or painting, video games, coding, cooking, gardening, writing, taking care of animals, knitting or crocheting, sewing, making jewelry.
Some of these activities can be pursued through your local school system (especially sports and UIL competitions). Most school districts have experience in working with homeschoolers so that kids can participate in sports, fine arts, and even dual credit courses when they reach high school age. Your city’s local parks and recreation department also offers a huge array of activities for both homeschoolers and public school kids (some may be designated for homeschools only). Finding local homeschool groups and co-ops (learning pods) is the key to success in finding your child or children some great extracurricular activities as well. Because there has been such an increase in homeschooling since the pandemic, these groups are pretty easy to find through a simple search on social media.
However you choose to educate your children or spend your fall, be sure to include their needed health and wellness checks as well as reading, writing, and arithmetic!