Here in the midwest fall is a definite season! Leaves turn and fall, nights are cool and the humidity is gone.
This fall also brought additions to our schedule. A few weeks ago both Z and T were excitedly telling their grandparents about their upcoming classes. Z was about to begin swimming and T a dance class. My dad looked knowingly at Ryan and I and said with a barely detectable smirk, "And so it begins...".
There are many schools of thought regarding homeschool families and time spent outside of the home. For that matter there are many philosophies about today's kids and busyness in general. I tend to reside half way between a homebody and the "I need to get out every day" type. Currently I slide a little more towards the homebody type because of how incredibly awkward 'going out' can be with five little people in tow. Really, the first dance class is still nearly a nightmare in my mind. Just picture a mom carrying a toddler and a baby carrier into a packed room while trying not to lose three other kids and attempting to find T some used tap shoes in her size before her class begins. Oh, and I have no clue about how to tie tap shoes or how they should fit. But I digress... So no matter what my desires or inconveniences are they really are not the determining factors when deciding what we should do outside of our home.
I recently read somewhere that it is absurd of parents to run their children around constantly from class to event to shopping and finally back home again all of their childhood years and then expect them to be content housewives or involved fathers at home. I think this makes a lot of sense. Of course, God has given each of us different personalities or tendencies, but styles of living are also somewhat learned. Staying at home requires that members of a family learn to get along more often, build deeper relationships with each other (provided they are not in front of the TV constantly), and learn from one another. In addition, home is where the most basic of adult tasks are learned: laundry, mowing the lawn, cooking, etc.
On the other hand, there are those that believe that we must 'socialize' our children and introduce them to as many extracurricular activities as possible. Socialization is necessary, but this can take place in many settings, including one's home (just live one day in our house and you will see many a social learning situations arise). And having a broad range of knowledge regarding sports, music, etc are helpful in the adult world.
When it comes to choosing electives I come at this from primarily one standpoint. What is the child's primary interest that lines up with a good life skill and their God given abilities? Obviously, as children get older they gradually need to be more of the decision maker, but we are not at that point. When children find their niche it builds their confidence and self esteem. In other words, we are looking for what helps us achieve one of our ultimate goals: enabling our children to be productive and confident adults.
So, we are trying out one elective per child at this point. Obviously this could become rather chaotic in a few years, but there will be adjustments along the way. I will continue to attempt to balance a peaceful schedule with some quality time spent out for the kids to explore their interests beyond basic academics.
As for Z, he has had three swimming lessons and that boy can swim! As a lot of you know, we have moved A LOT in the past few years so getting the children into swimming lessons really hasn't happened much on a consistent basis. But now he is taking off. And by the way, Ryan and I were wrong! Gasp! Goggles do help kids swim. We both came from the "they need to learn how to swim without them" camp. But Z kept stopping to wipe off his eyes anytime he went under water. I asked his teacher what she thought and a few days later Ryan and I decided to give up our commitment to this ever-so-life-changing issue. Now he is doing a front crawl and working very hard on his back and front floats.
Where to begin with T???? About a year or two ago T was somehow introduced to ballet. I am still trying to remember when and what the catalyst was, but frankly I can hardly remember a time in which she was walking and not interested in dancing ballet. She has exhausted the collection of every children's ballet book at two libraries now and is working on a third, has watched the New York Ballet perform The Nutcraker on video, and has listened to me read the entire full story of the ballet (I was shocked). And she doesn't just look at these books, oh no, they are textbooks to be learned from! So, the local rec department offers these insanely low priced dance classes taught by a Christian woman. The class is both tap and ballet. The teacher is using the tap to try to teach rhythm, but T calls it her ballet class. We will see where this goes. She applies herself with a tangible amount of determination....and cuteness. (She is in the black leotard in the bottom pic).