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Sports for the Homeschooled

Between the high cost of private high schools and the spotty track records of a lot of public schools, many parents during the past few years have been turning to homeschooling as a cheaper alternative for educating their children. From our perspective at Via Meadia, more educational options are always a good thing, and for middle-class parents willing to invest the time, it is a good way to ensure that your children get a satisfactory education for a reasonable price, tailored to their individual aptitudes. As 21st century education shifts away from big-box schools towards targeted, individualized methods, this shift is likely to accelerate.

Like every innovation, the rise of homeschooling carries with it a few growing pains. The most recent hiccup has come over organized youth sports, where homeschooled children (following the lead of star quarterback Tim Tebow) have been clamoring for the right to participate in the athletic programs of local public schools, especially in sports requiring specialized equipment and a large number of students and coaches. A number of states have already passed bills accommodating them, and now Virginia is debating one of its own, despite protests from local teachers’ organizations.

Integrating homeschooled students into the community in this way strikes us as a perfectly reasonable goal. While academics should remain the central focus for all students, athletics can play an important role in a child’s life. Team sports can bring structure to a child’s life, and instill values of leadership, teamwork and discipline that can be difficult to impart in a strictly academic environment.

As the influence of large schools wanes, there may be an abundance of large, organized sports leagues designed to complement homeschooling. In the meantime, there is no reason to discourage the homeschooled from taking part in one of the fundamental aspects of American childhood.

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  • raf

    Especially since the homeschooling parents (at least, in this state) are paying the same (property) taxes to support the school as those whose children actually attend. There is some “loss of revenue” to the school from state general funds, but, still.

  • Mrs. Davis

    Nonsense. This is just a means to keep state schools in business.

    There are plenty of non-scholastic athletic leagues around for almost all sports except football. Many parents spend weekends chauffeuring children for travelling soccer, swimming, biking and tennis leagues to name a few. Let these leagues flourish with talent from the home schoolers. The state schools should not be allowed to field teams filled with ringers.

    Next thing you know, the high school football players will all be “home schooled” so they can get in more practice, just as at Division I schools, most of which are public.

    Maybe without athletic programs high school could start at a time of day more suited to a teens sleep habits instead of at the crack of dawn so the football team can practice in the afternoon. And there would be more money for teachers.

  • Jeff Medcalf

    Mrs Davis,

    That is true in the suburbs, but not in rural areas.

  • Soul

    Home schooling is popular in the city I live part of the year in Illinois. What has genuinely surprised me about the home schooled kids is how sociable they are. And also how much they participated in sports when younger. My weight lifting trainer in particular was a local baseball star. Well, I say that, he was a very good player as a young guy. Don’t know if he played on the high school team though, but baseball was a central theme for him – traveling to other states to swing the stick sometimes.

  • Mrs. Davis

    @Jeff Medcalf. The dynamics and challenges in sparsely settled areas are different, without a doubt. But I suspect the same thing will eventually happen there, just later.

    An interesting development to watch will be whether rural districts become early adopters of distance education to expand the breadth of offerings to their students and forestall the penetration of home schooling. But fiscal realities and the cost of athletic programs, especially as they fall by the wayside in the urban and suburban districts, will inevitably force a change. What that change will be in rural districts is much less clear.

    Also interesting regarding football is this article.

  • Splashman

    “…one of the fundamental aspects of American childhood.”

    That statement reflects an astounding lack of introspection on the part of Mr. Mead.

    Not that he is alone. It continually amazes me how many cultural institutions are taken for granted by those who should know better.

  • Walter Sobchak

    I am with Mrs. Davis on this one. I love sports, but I am realistic enough to know that it is the eggplant that ate Chicago of the academic world.

  • Walter Sobchak

    You’d better watch out for the eggplant that ate Chicago,
    For he may eat your city soon.
    You’d better watch out for the eggplant that ate Chicago,
    If he’s still hungry, the whole country’s doomed.

    He came from outer space, looking for something to eat.
    He landed in Chicago. He thought Chicago was a treat.
    (It was sweet, it was just like sugar)

  • Lorenz Gude

    I got a shake up to my understanding of sports when I immigrated to Australia in 1976. Some of my coleagus where I taught belonged cricket clubs. In one case thenAustralian wicket keeper (like a catcher in Baseball) was a member of the same club and occasionally played a club match when his state and national obligations permitted. That club structure tends to be followed in all Australia sport and extends down in age to ‘under 15s and under 12s etc’. The schools play second fiddle to the club system in sport. American football is hard because of the equipment, but we already do something like this with baseball starting with T ball, little league and Legion ball for high school age simply because a summer sport doesn’t fit into the school calendar. Still I remember my excitement watching my small town high school team played a much smaller town with a pitcher of great promise being observed by a major league scout. He ate our lunch, but it didn’t prove much.

  • DrTorch

    As a long time homeschooler, my son’s rec league wrestling, and a recent former VA resident, I am very much in favor of passing such a bill.

    Sports can play a vital role in a child’s education, especially boys’. Yes, they’ve been co-opted and abused, but so has most anything else.

    They teach among other things, teamwork, persistance, attention to detail, humility, and they serve to pare down a child’s self-absorption.

    I pay significant taxes that go to the local schools. I deserve to have access to them like anyone else. It is not an all-or-nothing deal. If so, then kindly return to me ALL of the taxes I’ve paid to date.

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