________ September 27, 2016 _________

Extracurricular Entitlement

This year, we decided not to go back to the dance studio where my BFF’s girl dances.  Two reasons: they don’t have enough kids to have Lydia’s class (Intermediate Contemporary), and Miss Bree is the only teacher for any of the classes Lydia could take.  It didn’t matter if it was jazz or contemporary or whatever – five teachers, and all of the classes for Lydia’s age/skill level are Miss Bree’s.  The problem is, we don’t like Miss Bree’s teaching, her choreography, her choice in music, or her technique (she’s like a puppet that jerks around).  Lydia’s very much about lyrical, beautiful, expressive dancing… so we moved.

We decided to go ‘home’ to our old town to do dance.  One of the seniors (from when Lydia started dance at age 3) went to college, got her degree in dance, and opened her own studio, and we thought we’d try it, hoping the girl took a page from Ms. Marci-Anne and would be an enthusiastic and good teacher.  She… it… didn’t work.  First, she doesn’t have enthusiasm.  Lydia’s class was at the end of a back-to-back five hour run of teaching, and the teacher was whipped and didn’t care, anymore by the time she got to the last class of the night.  Worse, there was a special needs teen in the class, and half of the studio time was given to the one girl, who couldn’t follow or do the moves.  That can’t possibly work.  And it’s not the teacher’s fault, but she can’t exactly be discriminatory, and we can’t actually benefit from a class that has to spend so much time working with one special needs girl.  Which left us scrambling last minute.

Finding another studio last minute was horrific.  First, there’s the problem that most studios require contemporary/lyrical students to also be enrolled in a ballet tech class… which is ridiculous, because a) it’s NOT ballet, b) if they’re at that level of dance, they’ve had tech in younger years to fall back on, and c) not everyone can afford the time/money for TWO dance classes a week, hello.

I was getting seriously frustrated, to be honest.  And as much as my girl loves dance… I was beginning to feel as though I was being forced to find this magical, mythical dance class that fits her criteria, you know?  I don’t like to put it that way, but it felt about as ugly as that.  In addition, I’ve been half-heartedly trying to find something to put the boys into.  Brian doesn’t like them dancing.  We tried swim – they have no interest (and the YMCA in our area is pitiful – you’re lucky if they have teachers that show for half the classes).  I emailed several boys clubs, but never got replies… which is par for the course with extracurriculars.

And I got to thinking about it:  I didn’t have extra-curriculars, when I was my kids’ ages.  I took piano until middle school, when my mom decided a) it’s a pain to run me around, b) it’s expensive, and c) if I could play well enough to be the choir accompanist at school, I didn’t really need lessons, anymore, anyhow.  My sister never did extracurriculars.  My brother fringed the thrasher scene, which means he did BMX and skateboard tricking with some kids down the road on street corners.  For that matter, my mom, dad, aunts, uncles, grandparents… THEY never had extra-curriculars.  My husband never had extra-curriculars.

“We had public school.”  Brian pointed out to me.  Sure we did.  But we were loners or quiet kids who didn’t really get involved.  None of us ever did sports, never did the school yearbook or chess club or anything.  We went, we sat, we hated it, and then we went home.  All family, as far back as I can remember.  Even being public schooled, we weren’t socialized at all.

So I’ve been thinking about it… are extra-curriculars even necessary?  I mean, really?  I know homeschool families that act like they HAVE to get their kids into this and that and the other thing.  They run around pell-mell and have this insane evening schedule… and it doesn’t promote family.  It doesn’t help with anything.  It’s taxing and expensive and sends people in opposite directions, instead of fostering calm and contentment and togetherness.

In trying to figure out why there’s this huge push for it, I have come to the conclusion that people feel like they have to have an answer for the anti-homeschoolers.  “Socialization?  We’re covered – we do soccer and Robotics lab and dance and AWANAS and…”  Just this whole list of stuff… and that’s all it is: STUFF.  I don’t know.  Do I have to answer to any anti-homeschooler, anyhow?  NO!  I’ve seen what public school does for kids.

For that matter, I see what this push for ‘socialization’ is doing to homeschool kids.  It’s creating entitlement brats, who deserve to play sports and be a part of some uber-cerebral league to validate the parents’ job as a homeschooler and showcase them as 2% off genius, or some such nonsense.  Mostly what I see out of homeschooling today makes me sick: the push for socialization (both for mother and children) to the detriment of actual education.  What I’m saying is that most homeschoolers I see are so busy running around ‘socializing’ at clubs and events and meetings and activities, that they aren’t actually educating their kids.  They aren’t even spending time with their kids.  It’s appalling, I have to tell you.

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And it’s not like we don’t have ‘extra-curriculars’ as a family.  We hike.  We go on adventures to all sorts of new and interesting places.  We do one homeschool group together.  We swim, camp, travel, and have game nights together… as a family.  We go to hymn sing and library events and concerts… together.  Why do we need separate activities for each child, anyhow?

The more figuring I did, the more surprising it was.  For Lydia to go to dance class, it’s $45/mo.  For me to go swim, it’s $12/mo.  I could have four people swimming and/or playing in the water for the price of dance class.  We could do so many more things for cheaper, together.  It’s kind of startling, to be honest.

We did find Lydia a dance class, by the way. It’s not far from home, it’s a spacious and nice facility, and the teacher was really good.  There are four girls and a BOY in her class… but she loved it when we tried it last week.  So *WHEW!!*, that’s taken care of.  But I’ve got a different mindset about it, and I’m starting to work on her mindset (and that of the other kids).   Because while it’s great to have the blessing of lessons in something that we’re passionate about, we don’t have to have something to be passionate.  And if we’re not passionate, we don’t have to have something just to have something.

I’m just… doing some soul searching over here, as I work on scheduling our new school year.

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1 Comment

  1. Well this homeschooler didn’t have socialization or extracurriculars… I don’t believe I missed out on much. Homeschoolers now push this stuff because they are terrified of being labeled as outcasts, defective, or that the kids will turn out wrong. It’s not about really finding something a kid genuinely enjoys doing.. it’s about competing with the people the homeschoolers were supposed to not want to be like in the first place. To seem better than everyone else.. not anything about developing interests or fueling passions, but just outward appearances.

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