Thursday, June 28, 2012

Homeschooling and Extra Curricular Activities :Sport

Its difficult to define what are extra curricular activities when everything is considered school in our house.  That's homeschooling, it's a lifestyle of learning - it's not an event.  Chores and meal preparation are life skills, swimming is PE (physical education), fundraising initiatives are entrepreneurial.  But for arguments sake lets assume that extra curricular is anything that requires external involvement or activities.  Though doing these activities is about spending time with friends, its more importantly about maintaining a balance in my  children's life.  
You may have seen that I will be starting a series on Growing up as Jesus did - and it is all about ensuring that all aspects of a child's life are given the opportunity to grow - the spiritual, the physical, the mental and the relational.  When we ignore any  one of these aspects in their development, their growth is stunted.  I am sure you can think of lots of examples of that - the consequences of ignoring anyone of these areas can be harmful.  Of course this is simply put and there is much more complexity to these thoughts.  (for eg mental is not just academic but left brain right brain, physical is not just exercise but food, sleep etc).  However I will keep you in suspense for when we get there!

For now I want to just give you some idea of what we do and when we do it, bearing in mind that I have 3 boys and 1 girl (who forgets she is a girl sometimes!).  There are some of you that think there is no difference - but believe me there is!

And Sport is up first!  Why?  Because in my opinion (after all - my tag line says "A South African homeschooling mother, with an opinion), is that boys spend far too much time in front of television or computers.  So much so, that more and more research is coming to the fore about the detrimental effects of too much screen time.

I have to be intentional in my approach to physical activity.  I am not a natural physically active person, it takes lots and lots of effort to get this lazy body moving, but like I have said before - you need to be who you say you are, and what you tell your children to be.  So if I expect them to be physical then I need to be too.  So my first priority,  when it comes to extra curricular activities is - sport, movement, exercise! And this is how we do it:
Nippers(Junior Lifesavers)
This is our primary sport for the year.  This is a real winner for us.  The season starts in wintery August and finishes in April.  What makes this an especially good sport - is that it builds such confidence, individual ability and team spirit.  Our Nippers coaches are all volunteers but they offer such a wide range of sporting activities within the scope of Nippers.  Swimming, lifesaving, body boarding, malibu, long distance and short distance running are but a few.

The children do a practical and written exams to qualify for each age group and as they get older, these qualifications allow them to be junior lifesavers and ultimately lifesavers.  The qualifications are international which means you can travel the world and work as a lifesaver.  And boys, with their need for competition and all that extra boyhood energy, have the opportunity to participate in monthly competitions.  Once they get to Under 12 level, they can qualify for WP colours.
Sharks you say?  Yes some of you that are reading this have no idea where we stay but we stay in the False Bay area, which has the highest occurrence of great whites in the world. But really they are so looked after - the parents are out there as  deterrents(or shark bait as we often joke), they put up shark deterrent buoys and there is craft which rides up and down to keep an eye on the children in the water.

Our children have really grown in stature in the last 2 years participating in this sport.  With practices ranging from 2 to 5 times a week which includes swimming training in a local school pool, they get lots of opportunities to burn out all that excess energy.  Ruthie will be starting the introduction to Nippers - otherwise known as Starfish, this year - so you'll soon see photographs of her in a wetsuit!
OK so we haven't started this one yet.  I wasn't so sure whether I should include this but just to say that my boys have tried rugby - and we heard horror stories wherever we went.  Metal plates in cheeks, clots on brains, hip and knee replacements because of rugby injuries. Even our doctor said we should avoid rugby. Funny because I love watching the game and my father is an avid supporter but I decided not to knowingly make a decision that could have long term effects on my children's physical well being.  There are some of you that will read this and think, our boys are just not tough enough.  The problem is,  that they are tough enough and do not shy away from any scrum or battle.  And so already in our first match we walked away with a back injury because the opposing team played dirty - and there were even concerns of vertebra injury - so it was really a deciding factor for us.

Now to the actual case of TAG, it's rugby but touch rugby.  So the boys get the chance to enjoy the same fun and interaction but without tackles.  And so we are looking forward to them being able to participate in a sport which they love.
Swimming Lessons
Our children train throughout the year as its vital to maintain fitness levels for Nippers.  And so all of them attend swimming lessons at the Virgin Gym. This works out really well for me, as while they are doing their swimming lesson, I am able to sit and have a coffee.  This can take up to 3 hours as we have to rotate and each child has their own session.
This is not the only swimming they do - this is mostly for learning, stroke correction and improvement.  I then take them 2 to 3 times a week to swim lengths and put into practice some of what they have already learnt.  I have downloaded my own training schedule for the boys, which I then give to them before each practice and they then just swim and swim and swim.

We go to Virgin Gym for swimming but we also go to gym to gym (OK I know that sounds rather obvious) but you get my meaning.  Our children belong to Club V at the gym, which is an activity bases child care facility for children.  They do arts and crafts, Wii, movies, ball games and sports.  But we mostly use this for Ruthie and sometimes Chad.  Otherwise they all head upstairs with their dad.  He then supervises them while they do exercises upstairs.  Though they would love to do weights they don't because they are still too young but I think it's a great opportunity for dad and the boys to do a "manly" activity together while having fun.  He works them hard, and they keep him motivated.  Have I mentioned he has the patience of Job.  (I run off to one of my classes crazy fast paced aerobic classes)
Surfing and Body Boarding
Our children love the ocean and they are in the water any time they get the opportunity. The water is freezing but they put their wetsuits on and head into the water with a body board or a surfboard, rain or shine - winter or summer.  I am a reluctant winter beacher but occasionally  I brave the cold weather and take them to the beach to catch some waves.  And they love Muizenberg as far as surfing goes, and if they aren't catching waves themselves, then they are watching others catch the waves.
Other family based sporting activities
We regularly do activities together as a family - walking along Boyes Drive, climbing various routes up the Table Mountain Nature Reserve, cycling, running on the beach - the list is always growing and it gets more and more creative as we come up with more ideas.  Again, it's all about living the life we tell them they should   live.  We always try and make family activities outdoors if we can help it.
So that's sport in our family, just one type of extra curricular activities we are involved with.

See the other posts on Homeschooling and Extra Curricular Activities in:

This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers (SACH Bloggers) where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more. You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page.  We hope you enjoy the
 carnival as much as we have!
This month's blog carnival is being hosted by Trixi's HomeEd Academy


  1. wow - you've picked up on lots of things I didn't think to include as extra murals in my post :) But you are so right - all these things contribute in some way or another towards shaping our kids. It's life! :) Love how full your kids' lives are with purposeful fun. Well done mom!

  2. Mel, so lovely to read about your life - and what a rich and vibrant homeschooling life this is! I'm feeling somewhat convicted about the narrowness with which I have homeschooled so far, so it's ben great to read all bout teh ways in which you enrich your children's lives, and then to cry out - God, what is right for us? How do we do this on a budget? I love the honesty with which you write, as I've said before, that you need time out - think I'm reaching that point where I know I can't do it all - it's just not healthy for me! Much love xxx

  3. Lovely posts Mel, so descriptive and purposeful. What a blessing to be able to tailor make our children's lives for them as individuals, and as individual families. Keep up the wonderful work mom...


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