Sunday, January 28, 2018

All of the Extras (Virtual Homeschool Fair 2018 - Week 4)

Welcome back for the fourth and final week of the Virtual Homeschool Fair, graciously hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds. This week we are all talking about what we do for enrichment, which is accomplished in a variety of ways for homeschoolers.

Over the years, our family has used an array of avenues to provide our sixteen year old daughter, Amber, with enrichment courses and activities that allow her to pursue her own interests. Now we primarily stick with three different routes for her extras.

Unexpected Homeschool: All the Extras Grade Plans (Virtual Homeschool Fair 2018 - Week 4)

The Past:
Amber was, once upon a time, a dancer. That was basically all she had time to do, since she was in competitive dance from a young age. The only other activity she had was piano, but to be fair she was also in parochial school at that time. Eventually she dropped dance in favor of horseback riding, then when we started homeschooling she resumed dance at a new studio that did not have competitive dance. The new studio also offered a number of other activities, such as musical theater and voice lessons. Amber tried all of these classes, while remaining faithful to her dance. However, when the dysautonomia was triggered in Amber and we discovered she has Ehlers Danlos, we were strongly encouraged to remove her from dance. And to be honest, she had been struggling for about six months anyway.

That left us looking for ways to allow Amber to be with other children, meet new friends, and participate in more than what I could offer at home.

Music Lessons & Creative Arts Group

Music has always been an important creative outlet for Amber. While piano was not her favorite instrument, she did well and took lessons for six years. About six months after leaving dance, Amber asked to change instruments and she selected the flute. She took to it amazingly and we have continued private weekly lessons since the start of sixth grade (that's four and a half years so far). Finding this flute teacher has been rather fortuitous, since not only does she have a fantastic rapport with Amber, she is also the artistic director of a local creative arts group.

Amber has been able to participate with the creative arts group in various ways over the years, even though she is not one of their regular musical actors. She was in their short-lived band, plays flute to accompany the choirs occasionally and at other events, and every summer is part of Project Write where the children write their own musical with the given theme for the year. Even now Amber is contemplating joining a weekly ensemble with the creative arts group, and is part of another ensemble to play the live music for one of the upcoming drama performances.

Our Church - Youth Group & Service

While this may seem like a no-brainer for some, it took us a while to find a congregation where Amber felt comfortable after the unpleasant experience at her last parochial school. Thankfully we found our current congregation where Amber was part of confirmation and is now in the high school youth. Not only does the youth group meet a few times a month on Sunday evenings, but she has Sunday morning Bible class every week. During the summers the group often has regular week day afternoon / evening activities.  Amber has met some of her best friends through our church, and can't imagine not being part of this youth group.

Amber also has found a multitude of ways to serve through our church. Given her physical restrictions, it is not always easy for Amber to find ways to serve our church or community. Everyone expects the young to be able to do physically arduous activities, and that just isn't possible for Amber. Thankfully, Amber has been able to serve at our church's VBS in the summers, serve at the sausage supper in the autumns, and various other small activities. She is contemplating occasionally assisting in the music ministry by playing flute. However, serving during worship time is affected by her physical limitations since she cannot make every service on Sunday mornings.

Lastly, through Thrivent Financial (a Lutheran based institution), we have been able to create and partially fund our own service project groups, like our weighted blanket project. This has allowed Amber and me to provide meaningful service to our community while still staying within both of our physical limitations.

Homeschool Co-op

This list would not be complete without talking about the role that homeschool co-op has played in providing enrichment for Amber over the years. When it became necessary to remove Amber from dance, I immediately looked for a group to join where Amber might take a few classes. Our first homeschool co-op met that need and introduced us to the Lutheran congregation where we are currently members. Although our time with that co-op came to an end last semester, we are members of another homeschool co-op along with the majority of Amber's close friends.

Both co-ops have allowed Amber to explore interests that I could not have provided at home. So often I am reminded that Amber may be similar to her dad and me in some respects, but she is her own unique person. We would never have expected our child to enjoy and thrive in drama classes, yet she looks forward to drama each semester. She also makes art a top priority course. Neither of these could I make happen at home given my skills in both areas and, of course, the lack of other players for drama.

Amber takes full days of co-op every semester and in addition to art and drama fills her schedule with courses that either I am teaching at her request, or courses that interest her greatly such as Bible study and Greek mythology. On a few occasions, she's even taken classes that she did not necessarily want, but that I taught solely so she could experience it in a group, like speech and health.


I hope you have enjoyed this year's Virtual Homeschool Fair as much as all us participating. Thanks for joining us and we hope to see you around!

Unexpected Homeschool: All the Extras Grade Plans (Virtual Homeschool Fair 2018 - Week 4)

Please take a look at how the other participants have provided enrichment to their homeschooled students.
Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST.

1 comment:

  1. that is so cool that you meet Amber's wants and needs in ways that are good for her. Well done. :)