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February 5, 2014 Edition 

What Electives Are Essential?         

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The Wuehler Family

Some days, I have so much to balance, that everything flies out of orbit and hits the ground with a big thud. When I add in activities outside the home, then I often feel even that much more out of control and off schedule. On the other hand, I also feel that my children would be missing out if we bypass all those great activities that are calling our names so loudly. I believe it takes prayer and wisdom every month of every year on how involved your family can or should be in anything.

 

There are many really good activities calling us out of our homes. Whether it is academic enrichment classes, physical education, music lessons, history co-op, field trips, art, park days ... the choices can be overwhelming. Since every family and their homeschool dynamics are different, there is no clear way to distinguish what is best for everyone. But we can employ guidelines and ask questions that help us all make good choices.

 

We will ask questions related to six areas: The Home, The Family, The Child, The Activity, The Spouse, and The Lord.

 

The Home

The balancing act in all of this is learning what to decline from and when to add another activity. Probably the first thing to consider would be the temperature of your home right now. Here are the questions I would ask related to the home:

  • Is there a lot of stress in the home already?
  • How easy or difficult is it to get out of the house with everyone?
  • Does the family have enough down time?
  • Would adding another activity put the atmosphere of the home in jeopardy?
  • Does each member of the family have the extra energy to make this commitment?
  • Can the calendar handle another thing?
  • Would you have enough time to do the necessary schoolwork, chores and Bible study if you add another activity?

If you are already feeling guilty that you cannot get dinner on every night nor do basic housekeeping, you might need to think about what activities are draining your time or energy. If your home life is already full, you will need to reconsider taking on another activity, or take something else off the calendar to fit in something new. We must learn to evaluate the not only the short and long-term benefit of the activity, but how this extra activity will affect our home and our family.

 

The Family

Often, when we do too much outside the home, it throws off our family's ability to bounce back and complete the important things like finishing necessary homework, or just regrouping and thinking clearly. It could affect our ability to react graciously because we are tired. Sometimes adding new activities not only takes new energy, but can also take time to get back to a normal, operational state. These are things we need to take into consideration ...

 

Read the rest of the article including consideration of your child, your spouse, and the Lord, here. 

 

~Deborah

dwuehler@thehomeschoolmagazine.com
 
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I don't know if this happens to other families or not, but when I was growing up, I had a lot of interests that didn't last to adulthood. When I think of the finances that were invested in my fluctuating interests, I cringe. I know exploring many interests is a healthy part of childhood. But in time, dinosaur books, an electrician's kit, a telescope, and more than one musical instrument all found their way to the donated items bin.  

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What electives are essential? None! After all, that's what electives mean, something more than the essentials like Bible, math and language arts. If they learn those, they'll have the foundation they need to keep learning on their own. That said, adding in electives can really add to their lives. Consider these:

 

History. This is essential in high school, but it's also one of the first electives you should add in elementary school. We suggest focusing on the stories of history and reading lots of biographies. It's fun and it gives children an understanding of God's workings in the lives of men.

 

Science. Again, an essential in high school, in elementary school, getting to do science can motivate them to get the basics done! Don't get bogged down in paperwork and assignments--it's not the point of science at the younger ages.

 

Music. For years, we dragged unwilling children to homeschool choir and band. They whined. They complained. Then they grew up. All three of our graduates have enjoyed singing in their university choirs and love, love, love music. One has real musical

talent and taught himself to play several instruments. I wonder if he'd have ever known it if we'd left out music.

 

Art. Got a kid who draws all the time? Buy him a simple art curriculum or instructional videos. One young man we know discovered such a talent for drawing that he did the cover art for A Cry From Egypt, one of the books we publish--and he was seventeen years old!

 

P.E. So many moms complain that their sons can't sit still and concentrate, "I tell him he can get up after he finishes school." For many boys and some girls, too, that means he'll be using all his mental energy to sit--and have nothing left to learn with. Get them up, get them active. Tell them to run up and down the stairs. Get them doing push-ups. They'll learn better when they've been active.

 

Languages. If they are heading to college, they'll need two or three years of high school foreign languages, but it can be fun to do some language study with younger children, too, and they'll have a better accent. Some great resources let you learn with them!

 

Economics. This high school elective really helps students understand decision-making. It will make them not only better businessmen, but wiser consumers as they understand what motivates them to buy, how prices are set, and why businesses and governments do the things they do.

 

Most of all, don't get stressed out and lose your joy! Sometimes you'll get all this done and more, and other times the essentials are a stretch. It's okay; you will get there. Focus on discipling and loving your children while you've got them!

 

Your friends,

Hal & Melanie

 

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For the month of February, 2014     

 

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