“Extracurricular activities?” you might be wondering. “Hmm . . . doesn’t that just mean anything my kid does that isn’t ‘school’? What’s extra important about these activities now that we’re in high school?”
Perhaps you remember when your kids were younger, how learning could happen everywhere, all the time. And now, homeschooling’s unique, integrated approach might be making extracurricular activities feel like a seamless part of both education and life.
But in high school, extracurricular activities take on greater significance—a distinct subcategory of “school.” That’s because the extracurricular activities in which our teens participate today will give colleges, military recruiters, scholarship committees, internship personnel, and future employers a picture of their interests, motivations, character, and initiative in the future.
Extracurricular activities fall into broad categories such as volunteering and community service, employment, competitive activities (sports, speech, robotics, music festivals, debate, chess, etc.), hobbies, interests, training, travel, and ministry. In some cases, extracurricular activities allow teens to serve or work alongside a professional or expert in a particular field, which can build a network of future references. Students can also progress in employment and life skills.
Optimize Your Options
When choosing extracurricular activities with your teen, the best strategy is to start early and be intentional. By encouraging your student to get involved in these activities at the very beginning of high school, you can maximize his or her opportunities to demonstrate increasing levels of responsibility and attain leadership roles before high school graduation. But if you’re just beginning to homeschool in the middle of high school, don’t worry—just help your teen jump into extracurriculars where they are.
Your teen’s involvement in extracurricular activities should reflect their passions and interests. You can collaborate with your teen to choose activities that maintain a healthy balance of academics and outside interests. College admissions and scholarship organizations prefer that students invest wholeheartedly in just several activities rather than spread themselves thin across too many unrelated ones. (That’s great news for your transportation budget and chauffeuring duties, by the way!)
While your high schooler may have access to a plethora of extracurricular activities in your local community, another super resource could be your local support group and state homeschooling organization. Nothing that interests your teen available? No problem! You can help them initiate a new activity for others to join!
The Extracurricular Sheet
We recommend documenting extracurricular activities on an extracurricular sheet, not on your transcript or other records. A separate sheet is how college, trade schools, the military, and employers will want to see these activities listed.
The extracurricular sheet is a record of your student’s dates of participation in each activity and specific, concise details such as: approximate number of hours of participation; coach’s, director’s, or instructor’s name; skills acquired; responsibilities performed; and awards or honors earned. You might consider organizing the activities chronologically within categories. (For ideas for developing your student’s extracurricular sheet, you can download the free sample below.)
What else does the extracurricular sheet do? It also provides your teen with a source of data about their high school experiences that may come in super handy in a variety of situations.
- When your student (or graduate) applies for their first job, the extracurricular sheet might provide skills, experience, accomplishments, and references that they can include on their resume.
- When applying to college, your teen can mine their extracurricular sheets for experiences to use in answering college application and essay questions. (For more, you can check out this College Board article: The Extracurricular Edge.)
- If your student enlists in the military, they can select activities from the extracurricular sheet to demonstrate their teamwork experience, personal accomplishments, and physical conditioning.
If you are an HSLDA member, please keep in mind that our Educational Consultants are always happy to answer your questions about documenting elective courses and extracurricular activities, as well as determining whether to categorize an activity as elective or extracurricular. You can reach out to us here!