It has been a busy week. You can probably tell because I have been pretty quiet here. Even homeschoolers are affected by Fall back-to-school time because that's when many of our outside activities start back up. I sometimes struggle with outside activities. There is a big part of me that is just a homebody and loves having long days at home. Because of this, I have always been pretty selective about what we choose to do away from home. I have always made an effort to choose outside activities that benefit as many family members as possible. With six children, if each chose an activity that just they were involved in, I would soon be carting everyone everywhere all the time and we would never be home at all.
This year we have been blessed with several opportunities that many in the family can participate in at once. Our first one is Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). I began in this program back in 1996 when I had one preschooler and another on the way. I went to a daytime class that had a preschool program. BSF is an amazing tool for studying the bible. I would highly recommend it to anyone. I went through 7 years of study completing all the studies that they offered at that time. I stepped away from this to allow me to get involved at other bible studies at my church, but my MIL and SIL were attending an evening BSF class and my MIL took my older two girls to the school-aged program offered. They loved it and benefited a lot from this. But several years ago, my MIL felt that it was time to move on to something else. Last year I felt a nudge to return to BSF. Although I was craving it for myself, I also knew that my older daughters who had done it before were desiring to study like that again, as well. So, this is our second year back. I am fortunate that I am able to take my oldest 4 children with me and we are all studying the book of Isaiah together this year. What a blessing! The cost for this program is nothing, although there is an offering plate there if you want to donate something.
This is also our second year to participate in a homeschool gym class coop. Three of my children are the right ages to take advantage of this (the 8, 6, & 4 year olds). This meets one afternoon a week and gives them an opportunity to burn some energy, learn some group sports and meet new friends. The requirements are that I need to help teach and the cost is minimal.
We have also joined another homeschool coop this year that meets one afternoon a week. This is an academic coop with classes offered for all ages from preschool though high school. We have never participated in anything like this, so it is a new experience. I think it will be a good for the kids to experience a taste of learning in a more school-like setting. I love the fact that they all have class at one place at the same time. Again, I will have some teaching requirements and the cost is minimal.
We also signed up for a homeschool, Christian drama group. My older two girls have really been wanting to get involved in something like this. This, too, is an activity that most of the children (the oldest 4) can participate in. It also will meet one afternoon a week once it starts up. I don't have to teach for this one (which is a good thing because I don't think I would be horrible in this area). There is one cost per family, so with 4 participating, it works out to be very reasonable for us.
Another thing we do as a family is 4-H. We are involved in a club that meets monthly and all the kids can take part. Well, the baby comes with us to the meetings, but doesn't really have much part in things. 4-H has lots of great projects that are a great resource from a homeschooling standpoint. Cost for this is pretty minimal, too.
Do you see a recurring theme here? Reasonable time requirements, minimal cost, many in family can benefit from it. We don't have each child involved in a different sport or activity that would have us running most evenings. We still have a few other things like youth group and a church dance group that fall into the evenings, but it is not too much. So, although we have many things we are doing this year, it is my hope that it is very doable because we are doing most of them as a family and the schedule is not too crazy. Because we already have a good number of activities planned, it is easier to say no to other worthwhile things that come along that maybe only one child may be involved with.
So, that's how we handle outside activities in our family. How do you all do it?