Jun 1, 2012

Do you need to get out more?

I am feeling a little torn. We are all quite tired here at the Mansted Family Project, and while I can come up with all sorts of good excuses, I know what is a big contributor: we have a lot of outside activities. 

And yet, I don't want to cut a single one...

I think there are some negative homeschool stereotypes around the social isolation of home educated kids and I have to say "Get thee out of your homeschool now!". I am often surprised to see that other homeschool families don't explore outside activities...but this isn't a post about the usual crazy notion about "unsocialised homeschoolers" - I talked about that here

This is a post about why I think signing up to "extra curricular" activities is an excellent, sanity-saving, nurturing, intelligent approach...

Selfish Reason Number 1: Get out of home
I need the break, and chances are you need it too. Tensions develop when we are all inside trying to battle ahem...smoothly get through "kids'  work" whether you are an un-schooler strewing and encouraging gently, or more curriculum focussed. Change the scene and change the dynamic.

Selfish Reason Number 2: Do something other than educate
While the kids are doing the activity, you get to do something too. For a homeschool parent, this is your big chance for a break. For us, virtually the only break we get.

In piano lessons, I knit. Drama class time means socialising with a dear friend for me. Mike and I spend their netball training time playing - hahaha you'd never guess - tennis! Yes, we really do. You get the idea.

Selfish Reason Number 3: Build relationships with mentors
All of us need mentors and models. Your kids do, mine certainly do, and lets face it, I really appreciate someone who is fascinated by their subject and wants to pass that on. It is naive to think you can be everything to your child - your relationship the model for every relationship they have. Kids need to see that adults are diverse, with different skills and styles and tolerances, as this allows them to accept their own differences. 

It also helps with discipline and learning respect - experiencing first hand how to negotiate and work with adults while you develop a new skill, one-on-one or in a group with kids.

I don't want to be the drama teacher (thanks Brian) because I really enjoy my coffee with Amber in that hour and a quarter once a week and my girls think he is the greatest. He is.

Aaargh - that should't say MFP but THANKS AMBER!
I will never be the musician Sara is - and what a wonderful teacher of piano in a fluid Suzuki meets classical teaching kind of way. As November says of her piano teacher "She is our kind of person, Mum". November, July and Sara sing, play, puzzle, percuss and solfege their way through that hour and a half. She takes notes for them and they each work through those notes in practice in between lessons - because Sara has asked them to. Truly.

After homeschool group, we end our week with the Scarlett School singing class. Wow - are those women incredibly talented! What role models! Thanks Mel, Melia and Nerida - you rock. 
Mike and I sneak off for that hour and sit with a glass of wine. Phew. Here is a clip from the last show...

Nippers is mostly finished until later in the year, but the 4 age managers that coaxed, excited, enthused, and inspired our girls through last season at Byron Bay Junior Surf Lifesaving Club were lovely. November's age managers turned her around, and her participation in the State Titles was a highlight. They believed in her, and she really did her best, proudly. Mike and I were quite involved here with helping out in the water, but it is difficult to be grumpy about an enforced summer excursion to the beach every Sunday.

In winter, it is netball with the calm, patient Julie and Nimmity. Got tall girls? I really recommend netball.

Peer support
Did I mention we also attend a homeschool group that meets in a park an hour away from our home? Our girls play and run and talk, and we mostly just talk to the other crazy adults like us who are outside the school sausage factory system. Lots of wisdom swapped here while kids rough and tumble and "socialise". The trip is taken up with audio books or French songs while I knit...hmmm.

Selfish Reason Number 4: Contribute and feel a part of something lasting
Cub Scouts. I never imagined that we would do this, but now we are a true Scout Family. Mike volunteered and trained to become a Cub Leader and has found that the activities he loved to do as a boy he can now facilitate for our daughters and other children. 

Outdoor life, survival skills, independence, equality between boys and girls in the pack, individual achievement through the obtaining of badges, long lasting traditions. Very cool. And as your child gets older, they just move up through the groups, making great friendships as they go. 

Sanity tip: try to group activities together to have "out of home" days
When we started homeschool, I sprinkled activities across the week. Not any more : ) We tend to do big days where it is back to back lessons and classes. It works well for us and keeps us home more often.

Try to keep your "school" holidays relaxed and un-scheduled. If you are anything like us, you'll need it!

What activities do you get up to?


Erin said...

I just realised you are in Byron!:) I grew up in Lismore. anyhow now in the Clarence Valley and we are having our annual sports day next weekend, trying to get the word out to hsers up north. would you mind dropping me a line
and I'll forward you the info. gee wouldn't it be cool if you could come:):)

Tracey Mansted said...

Hi Erin,
Shall do! I didn't realise you were so close either!
Will email now...
: )

Ingi Mc said...

Well - you certainly do sound busy! We don't do nearly so many outdoor activities, some because we are all a bit introverted, some because they haven't panned out in our little town (drama and scouts, for instance). But how lucky are you to have all those resources in your backyard?

Tracey Mansted said...

It is tricky in small towns to find activities your kids want to do, isn't it, and that also fit in neatly into the rest of your life!
Since we live out of town, there is a lot of driving, but this also strangely makes us more flexible. We currently go to 4 different towns to do our weekly thing, which means making lots of friends in lots of places : )

It is worth asking Scouts NSW about groups in your area - they really are committed to making Scouting available to as many kids as possible. Yay camping! Yay scouts!

Amber said...

What fun you get up to! ;)

& what an interesting post to read in tandem with that Penelope Trunk one on the detriments of being well-rounded.

Personally, I think that we only strengthen our children's possibilities & vision when we offer them a wide range of experiences and activities. All the while saving our own sanity too? Hello! X

Tracey Mansted said...

Penelope Trunk post is here:

I think she missed the point when she assigns "well rounded" as something schools do well. Obviously they don't - the fact that we couldn't access history, languages other than English, philosophy, etc through the Education Department shows well rounded is NOT the emphasis there.

Interesting to have the debate though isn't it?!

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