…Out of the Box
by Melody Sheppard
So far, West Virginia homeschoolers have been barred from participating in any activity governed by the WV Secondary School Authority Commission (WVSSAC). This not only includes high school sports, but also some band functions and clubs. Although elementary-aged homeschoolers can usually participate in a vast selection of community sports leagues, once a student enters high school the playing field narrows.
As a result, many homeschoolers are turning to individualized sports and finding solid opportunities to achieve their sports goals. Individualized sports allow for flexibility, family participation, and even scholarships.
For many, the goals for participating in sports are pretty simple and a team situation is not required to meet them.
- Develop a lifelong skill
- Boost confidence
- Learn mastery through practice
- Learn sportsmanship
- Challenge one’s self
- Build self-discipline
- Develop friendships/camaraderie
- Have fun!
Just as homeschooling allows a child complete freedom to develop skills and maturity at his/her own pace, so does an individualized sport! Confidence is built and a sense of responsibility is gained, because it is up to the student how many practice hours are devoted. Outcomes cannot be blamed on a coach or teammate. The student determines the level of expertise he/she would like to attain – without pressure from a team.
Individualized sports can also turn into lifelong interests. Developing a love for a sport that may be enjoyed and pursued through successive seasons of life is healthy both mentally and physically. Lifelong friendships, not unusual among those who share similar interests and talents, enrich not only learning but social skills. Often participants span a wide age range, adding to the benefits of socialization. The many advantages of individual sports can far outweigh the appeal of team sports.
Listed below are individual sports to explore for your student and even the entire family. Many have clubs, competitions, and milestones to encourage skill and training.
- Archery clubs, NASP
- Biking – distance, mountain
- Cooking – (cooks move!) competition
- Equestrian – trail, show, competition
- Fishing – tournaments
- Gardening – master garden program
- Hiking – clubs, achievement ladders
- Hunting – clubs, milestones
- Martial Arts
- Ornithology – clubs, lectures, bird counts, walks & tours – from local to international, competition
- Racing – soap box, small cars
- Running – 5Ks, marathons
- Shooting Sports – Air, pistol, small bore, high power
- Skating – Ice, Roller
- Tractor Pull
Some participatory groups also provide a variety of sports/physical activities. Examples include Civil Air Patrol, 4H, American Heritage Girls, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts.