Homeschool Enrichment Classes: Balancing Education And Socializing

Tuesday, October 8, 2002 - by Christina Siebold
Charlene Crawford teaching the leadership class for homeschoolers at the Hamilton Family YMCA. Click to enlarge all our photos.
Charlene Crawford teaching the leadership class for homeschoolers at the Hamilton Family YMCA. Click to enlarge all our photos.
- photo by Christina Siebold

As a homeschooling Mother of three girls, Michelle Brock hears the same question from skeptics and fellow homescoolers alike whenever the subject of her children’s education is raised - “What about their social lives?”

While homeschooling has gained popularity in recent years, Mrs. Brock says the perception persists, even among homeschooling families, that children taught at home are scholastically above average, but socially stunted. In response to these concerns, homeschool enrichment programs have sprung up at churches and community organizations, seeking to answer the call for more peer interaction for homeschoolers.

On this Thursday morning, Mrs. Brock sits along the sidelines of the gymnasium at the Hamilton Place YMCA, watching her daughter playing out on the gym floor. Eight-year-old Julia has just come from the Y’s karate class for homeschoolers. Ponytail flying, she laughs as she tries her hand at group juggling and the kangaroo hop.

“They teach things here that I couldn’t teach at home, like Spanish, karate and art classes,” Mrs. Brock says. “Gym is hard to do at home, too. I think just playing with other kids and learning about teamwork is very important.”

Julia’s class may look like any other physical education class in any other Hamilton County school, but it is actually a course in leadership. Charlene Crawford is the Youth and Family Director at the Hamilton Place YMCA and serves as the instructor for this leadership class.

“We want to teach the kids to put the focus on teamwork instead of the individual,” Ms. Crawford says. “All of the games are designed so that the children have to rely on someone else to succeed.”

Ms. Crawford says the homeschool enrichment program began in response to a request from a homeschooling family. That first class welcomed three students, six weeks later it had grown to 10. As the course opens its fourth year, 87 students participate weekly, with waiting lists forming for several of the classes.

The number of classes offered have grown along with the class rolls. There are fitness classes for all age groups, along with karate, Spanish, music, drama, creative writing and several art classes.

“All of the courses evolved from parents suggestions,” Ms. Crawford says. “When we started, it was just a Gym and Swim program.”

Ms. Crawford says the YMCA’s participation in the homeschool program is a reflection of the organization’s mission.

“The YMCA is a community organization, we are what the community needs us to be,” she says.

While eager for her daughters to interact with their peers, Mrs. Brock says she doesn’t want to make extracurricular activities too high of a priority during their school years.

“There’s way too much emphasis on socialization for kids,” she says. “School is supposed to be about education, not socialization.”

But like all parents, Mrs. Brock says she wants her children to be well-rounded, and programs like the YMCA’s homeschool enrichment classes put the finishing touches on a good education. The classes also go a long way toward silencing critics, and calming homeschooling parents’ own fears.

“With all of the questions we hear about our kids’ socialization, this relieves any of the guilt we might feel about it,” Mrs. Brock says.

For more information on Hamilton Family YMCA's homeschool classes, contact Charlene Crawford at 899-1721.

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