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Homeschooling High School: Sports


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I hope you enjoyed Samantha’s post on Monday. She’s back today talking about one of the biggest reasons that many homeschooled kids return to or go for the first time to high school: sports.

My own niece went to public school for the first time ever as a freshman because it was her only option, in her area, for continuing to play softball competitively. She is now attending college on a softball scholarship.

Samantha has a lot of experience when it comes to homeschooling and high-school-level sports opportunities because her kids swim competitively. I hope you enjoy this informative post.

My oldest daughter is a talented competitive swimmer…and she’s homeschooled. The fact that my daughter is a competitive swimmer and is homeschooled was never an issue for her or for others until she entered her freshman year of high school at home.

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Around here, high school sports are a big deal…a really big deal. As our daughter edged closer and closer to high school age, the questions began. “Where will your daughter swim for high school?” When we explained that our daughter would continue to be homeschooled through high school and that she would not be swimming on a high school swim team, more questions and concerns were raised.

In my area, homeschooling for grades K-8 is fairly common but homeschooling all the way through high school is not. Many teens are sent to high school specifically so that they can have the opportunity to play sports. While I completely understand the importance that a sport can play in a young person’s life, the decision is a difficult one for parents who were planning to homeschool through the high school years.

So, regardless of whether your homeschooled child is in 2nd grade or 8th grade, there are a number of issues that homeschooling parents may want to consider in relation to homeschooling and high school sports.

Seriously Consider If You Want Your Family Involved in Organized Sports

While this may sound quite odd coming from a mother who has all of her children involved in competitive swimming, I do believe that families should seriously consider decisions regarding involvement with organized sports.

For my children, there have been many extremely positive benefits to their involvement in USA Swimming.

  • Through swimming, they have learned discipline, commitment, and goal-setting abilities.
  • They are in excellent physical condition.
  • They have made many friends and experienced excellent coach-swimmer relationships.
  • They have gained confidence through their successes and learned to deal with setbacks and disappointments when their goals were not met.
  • They have learned what it means to be part of a team and work as a team to achieve team goals.

On the flip side, though, our family’s heavy involvement in USA Swimming has also come with costs.

Time, time, time – We juggle three different swim team practice schedules year-round, have swim meets two to three times a month, and travel for meets. Swimming takes a tremendous amount of our time.

Money – Swim team fees, swim meet fees, equipment, and travel costs all add up quickly.

Negative influences – While the vast majority of our children’s interactions with other swimmers have been very positive…not all of them have been.

While I would never discourage involvement in organized sports, it is definitely a decision that requires serious consideration.

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Choose Sports That Can Be Easily Continued Through High School

Depending on where you live, some sports are more difficult than others to continue through high school without attending a traditional school. While it is very easy to have children involved in organized sports outside of a school setting when they are in grades K-8, it can become more difficult to find these opportunities during the high school years.

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, many sports offered outside of high school settings to teenagers include:

  • USA Swimming
  • Horseback Riding
  • Archery
  • Fencing
  • Karate/Martial Arts
  • Skiing
  • Gymnastics
  • Bowling
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Running/Marathons

Club teams and travel teams may exist in your area for many other sports including soccer, basketball, volleyball, and football.

Investigate Options for Playing Sports in High School Without Attending a Traditional High School

Rules and regulations regarding participation in high school sports vary tremendously from state to state and school district to school district. My best advice is to fully investigate options in your area if you have a child who wants to compete in a sport at the high school level and remain homeschooled.

Partial enrollment – Some school districts will allow homeschoolers within their district to participate on high school sports teams if a limited number of classes are taken at the high school.

Christian Schools – Some private Christian schools will allow homeschoolers to participate on sports teams.

Open Participation – Some states allow open participation on sports teams for homeschoolers within the school districts.

Club teams – In some areas, there are excellent club teams for soccer, basketball, volleyball and other sports which are completely independent of public or private schools.

Since situations vary so much depending on the area and the sport, it is best to investigate all of the options that are available to you in your area.

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Be Prepared for a LOT of Pressure from Other Teens and Parents

I was unprepared for the level of pressure my daughter, my husband and I received regarding our plans to continue homeschooling through high school…specifically because she would not be swimming on a high school swim team. It had been years since people had regularly questioned our decision to homeschool so all of the questions and concerns were disconcerting for me and for my daughter. Pressure from others can lead to doubts about your decisions.

Realize that Attending School IS a Choice

Depending on where you live and what sport your teenager is passionate about, the only good option may be to send your child to a traditional school in order to participate. Homeschooling is an excellent educational choice for many families but it may not be compatible with a teen’s dream of being on a high school football team or any other sports team.

Honestly, if our daughter wasn’t able to continue swimming through high school through USA Swimming, she would be going to school outside of our home now. She is incredibly committed to swimming, is very close to reaching her goal of attending a national-level meet, and will swim in college.

Given how important her swimming goals are to her, we simply would not take that away from her. We are very thankful that she is able to continue swimming through high school without attending a traditional school but if she were passionate about a different sport, we might not have that option.

Helpful Links

Samantha writes about homeschooling and family life at To Be Busy At Home. For the 2011-2012 school year, she is homeschooling her 9th-grade daughter, 7th-grade son, and 5th-grade son. When she’s not busy at home, she’s busy at a pool, as all three of her children swim competitively through USA swimming.

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th!

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8 Comments

  1. This is a great article! Most of the home educated children that I know in our town have gone to private or public high school and some of them play sports, while others are involved with music.  My children are only in 3rd and 5th grade, but other people always ask me if we will teach them at home all the way through high school.  They have tried a variety of activities, but whenever they try something new I think about if they could continue it through high school with out leaving our home school.  Thanks for the list of ideas above!

  2. I really appreciate you sharing your perspective on this Samantha!  Though our older kids were not very interested in sports, one of our 9 year olds is very athletic and competitive and I can see that for him to reach his full potential (not just in sports, but as a person), we may have to give sports more thought as he gets older.  Right now, he is in gymnastics (as are four of our other kids), swimming, and in the Spring, he plays baseball.  But he wants to play something more competitive.  Those list you gave of things to be considered is one I am going to give some thought to.  Thanks again!

  3. In our area (Kentucky), there are competitive travel soccer teams as well as competive volleyball leagues that are outside the school system. Locally, involvement with these types of teams puts players in contact with college scouts as much if not more so than high school teams.

    Keep an eye out for legislature in your state … like the 'Tim Tebow' law in Fl. I know we had a silimar bill die in committee here in KY.

  4. In my area home schooled kids can compete with the school that they are zoned for in "individual" sports. Swimming, wrestling, cross-country, track… but not hockey, basketball, football…

  5. Wonderful article!  We are very blessed in our area to have a homeschool day school that provides soccer team and  swim team opportunities for our students.  Both teams compete against public high school teams.  We've got committed, knowledgeable parents who fought hard for these opportunities for our students, knowing that sports participation is an important part of many young people's lives.

  6. Look into starting a team with other home schoolers in the area! I'm a college student now and I'm a volunteer pole vault coach with the home school team here. I would not even be able to volunteer if it wasn't for this team because every other team in the area that had my event (pole vault) had a coach.

    Also, try to talk to the school or even individual coaches about practice. In high school, another team didn't have a vault coach so those athletes would sometimes come to my high school to learn. Not always but it happened. And they were our cross town rivals! Sometimes we went to another high school to use their rubber track because ours was asphalt. It is sometimes possible to find other ways!

  7. Hi guys! It looks like I’m a little late to respond..
    Anyway..
    I’m a 14 yo freshman homeschooler, and I’ve been swimming competitively since I was eight.
    I love the sport. I would never stop; actually, I want to swim for Notre Dame in college.
    As a freshman, I’m getting loads of pressure from my teammates to swim for St. Joe High School. I’d love to go to St. Joe’s, it’s my biggest wish to swim for them. But my parent wouldn’t EVER send me to school; I’ll be homeschooled through high school.
    I will say that it’s really hard. Best friends that I’ve made will be gone a quarter of the swimming year (November-January).
    … On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d be able to easily abandon the team I’ve grown up on, and held so dear for six years. My coaches (2 of them students of Notre Dame) have come to know me like the back of their own hand. I’ll be getting a harder daily workout than highschool teams (Irish Aquatics is known for having some of the hardest practices around) , and when my teammates come back for the last couple months, I will probably have improved more than they have. There are so many benefits.
    All of the good things about staying in a swim club are still somehow outweighed by my friend’s absence. I will miss them terribly.
    My inspiration to keep on swimming is the USA Olympic Swim Team. Two of the Olympians were homeschooled. I’m going to just suck it up and keep swimming.
    What other option do I have? As Dory says,
    “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, WHAT DO WE DO? We SWIM, SWIM…”
    ~Sam Fox, longtime competitive swimmer.

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