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Soccer and ballet have changed our lives. We used to have nice relaxing evenings. We would do school during the day while Chris was at work. In the evenings when he came home we would all sit down to a nice family dinner and then watch tv or read or play a game. We left the home for numerous church activities or for a family outing, but on the whole we were either homebodies or doing family endeavors.
Then these activities came into our lives!
Now Chris comes home and three nights a week we rush through dinner so we can head out and take our children to their respective practices. Our once peaceful, open evenings have become scheduled and rigid. Not to mention the Saturdays that used to be open to take road trips to the zoo or Silver Dollar City are now unavailable due to soccer games. And that is with just two of our six children involved! I can’t imagine it with all of them!
So why did we do this to ourselves? Why did we leave the sanctity of our family-controlled schedule to get involved in outside activities? After all, we are a homeschooling family! And not just a homeschooling family, but a large one! We belong to a rare breed! We are independent, preferring to do things our own way, in our own time. We have chosen not to put our oldest into traditional high school because of the toll it would take on our family time, but, rather, to involve him in several independent study classes on the computer and online. We do not fit in the mold of the average American family.
If you think about it, though, these endeavors have followed the philosophical path we have carved for our lives. As parents and educators we naturally observe and watch our children and how they learn, then adjust the curriculum and lesson plans to best fit their needs and individual learning styles. We desire to create the best learning environment for their young minds. Instead of throwing them haplessly into a multitude of different activities in an attempt to find their love, I’ve simply watched them grow. I admit, this choice was not purely based on philosophy, but on necessity. For a long time we could not financially add activities to our lives.
Suffice it to say, I have been observing my daughters for years, seeking to know what brings them the most joy. My 10 year old, Abi, has been dancing and prancing about the house since she could walk. Even as a toddler she seemed to have a dancers body. Listening to music or watching dancers brings such a joy to her heart, such a twinkle to her eyes, that I know this is a desire that burns within her. I sought for years to be able to give this to her. Ballet has given her a sense of confidence and individuality that is so important in life.
Alternatively, my 11 year old, Hadassah, is not a delicate dancer. No. She wants to run and kick. She is aggressive. She is always looking for someone to go out and play sports with her. And even though she has 5 siblings, it was often hard for her to find someone willing to give her more than 20 minutes at a time. She longed for more. Soccer has given her that outlet–for a 2 hour time-span, 3 days a week she gets together with several other middle-school age girls and they kick and run together. She loves it! It has boosted her spirit and given her something that is hers and that she is good at.
To that end, I believe that sports have allowed us to have the best of both worlds. As homeschoolers, we still have the freedom to choose our schedule and what we teach our children. However, sports have allowed my children a social and educational outlet that they can’t get at home. They get specialized training in something they truly enjoy and I still get to “choose” the curriculum!
We are taking it slow, not wanting to go from zero kids in sports to all of them at once! The chaos that would ensue might suffocate us. Abi started last year, Hadassah this year, and I’ll probably put my youngers in soccer this spring. We’re still finding a good fit for our older boys as traditional sports don’t interest them.
So, in the end, soccer and ballet have changed our lives–we think for the better. It took away free time that we formerly enjoyed in a different way. But the trade-off is so much more than what we gave up. These sports have added another dimension to our family life and to our children’s scope of knowledge and skill. I’m so glad we added them.