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Competitive High School Sports; Support for Home-Teaching Dads

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, March 17, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 11 March 17, 2006
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2006 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

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Notes from the Editor
-- High School Sports (3)
Helpful Tips
-- Organizing Things
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Editor's Picks
-- St. Patrick's Day
-- Subscriber Information
-- Sponsorship Information

Notes from Heather

[This week I came across an insightful article by an ordinary dad who
was instrumental in helping to nurture a now-thriving homeschool
sports program in West Michigan. Hope it inspires you like it did me!]


By Cliff Aspinal

If you would have asked me seven years ago what I thought of Home
Schooling, I probably would have laughed and said that I couldn't
imagine any parent wanting to deprive their children of a public school
education. After all, I attended public school and considered myself
well educated. Sure we hear about the horror stories all around us
about the personal dangers at the public schools and about the kids who
just don't seem to succeed in the public school environment, but I
certainly didn't think that it applied to my family. A distant family
relative home schooled her children and I had no problem being
critical. I am sure all of you know family members who are unsup-
portive like I was. Little did I know what the future held for me.

I have a son who is learning impaired. He had just finished 6th grade
in public school. His brother had just finished 7th grade. My learning
impaired son was in trouble. He was being main streamed - put into
class rooms with children his own age, with subjects he couldn't grasp.
He had learned that as long as he sat quietly and didn't disturb the
class, nothing was expected of him. He could spend the time doodling
and it was okay. I participated in labs with him as well as field
trips. Perhaps I expected too much of the public schools, but I just
knew deep down in my heart that the only way to reach him was through
one-on-one tutoring.

We had good friends at church who also happened to home school.
All of a sudden, home school seemed a little more acceptable. I wasn't
convinced yet, but I was open. Our friends invited my wife and I to a
ate-wide home school convention and I was floored. Here were all these
people who were home schooling their children. They all looked normal
enough and the children were very well behaved. There were booths
everywhere with home school curriculums and colleges recruiting home
school students.

My wife and I left that convention with a firm conviction that God
wanted us to educate our youngest child. When we sat and explained to
the boys that we would be keeping the youngest boy home to be educated
by Mom and Dad, my oldest boy said that he wanted to be home schooled
as well. This was a surprise to us, but we decided that he could
always go back to school if he wanted to (we kind of figured that he
would want to attend public high school due to his interest in sports).
That summer before we started home schooling, my older son had a falling
out with the local Little League program. He had witnessed the coach
berate his son's performance during the game and was so shaken by it
that he had decided to give up baseball. I tried my best to get him to
stay at it as he had picked up a bat when he was three years old and
had practically never put it down. He was so into baseball that I
couldn't imagine him not being successful in it - he told me of his
dreams on playing major league baseball as he was growing up. We
played ball in the yard every chance we got. I knew that I needed to
get him involved in other sports as he was so used to being physically

We joined our local Home School organization and started receiving their
monthly newsletter. In that newsletter, we found out about all kinds
of local activities available to home schooled children. There were
swimming and tennis programs at the local YMCA as well as other
activities. We did as many of them as we could fit into our schedule.
One of the organized activities was a home school basketball team. My
older son had played intramural basketball so he decided to try and
play for the home school team that year. At that time he wasn't very
coordinated but he had a good time playing 8th grade basketball. The
next season, we had new parents involved in leading the program. There
was one high school team - it was mostly 9th and 10th graders. They
played as a varsity team just so they could get enough games. If I
recall correctly, they lost every game that year but one. At the end of
that season, it appeared that the parents involved were moving on and
that the program would not continue the following season unless someone
was willing to step up and organize it. My son enjoyed basketball
enough that I couldn't imagine the program going away and thus I
volunteered to be the Athletic Director. I really don't know much
about sports, but I have administrative skills, can use a computer, and
I wanted to see the program continue.

It has been four years since that time. My older son who plays sports
has just graduated from home school. He never wanted to go back to
public school. Sure we have had our ups and downs. There were times
when neither my wife or I could motivate the boys to do their best.
But even with the difficult times, we have succeeded in raising and
educating two boys. Teaching the boys has inspired my wife and I to
better ourselves by reading more and seeking out the educational
opportunities. My learning impaired son will still be home schooled
for a few more years until we feel that he is ready for a technical or
vocational school. I espouse the wonders of home school to any who
will listen. It surely isn't for everyone, but it can be for anyone.

And what about the sports? Our Varsity basketball team played in one
of the national tournaments for the first time since about nine years
ago. We never won a lot of games, but we developed good relationships
with many fine home school families. My sons have more good friends
than they had when they were in public school. Our sports organization
has grown from that one basketball team to include sixteen basketball
teams from 5th/6th grade through High School for both sexes. We also
have three soccer teams - our girls just won the State Tournament. We
had a volleyball team and even varsity cheerleaders. It takes a vision
to build a successful program. Our vision was to build a quality
sports program that would attract home school students and help them to
decide to remain home schooled throughout their high school years.
Sports is one of the reasons that many home school students decide to
attend public school during their high school years. My wife and I
have succeeded in providing an education for our children while
building an organization to support home school sports. We aren't done
yet, but we are trying hard to pass the vision and the torch onto other
parents so that we can spend even more time with our learning impaired
son. After all, he is the reason we started home schooling in the
first place.


Cliff Aspinal's family had been home schooling for seven years at the
time this article was written. His eldest son had just graduated. He
is/was the Athletic Director for Kalamazoo Home School Sports in
Michigan and up until recently had been Secretary for the West Michigan
Home School Athletic Association (State-wide organization). He can be
reached at cliffaspinall@earthlink.net [Please be patient as it can
take him awhile to respond to his email due to the volume that he



[Here's your chance! Send YOUR ideas along to

"I don't know if this counts as a tip, but I just realized (at 35 years
old) that big bins do not work for me organizationally. I have tons of
papers with great ideas/topics/"things" that get lost in the bottom of
a big container. I now use hanging files with folders clearly labeled
for such topics as: craft ideas (how to make a paper hat or
papermache), websites to research later, science topics, Bible verses
for dictation, etc. It just helps organize all those "important"
papers that I do not want to throw away but seem to get lost, so they
can be used some day." -- Michelle in Oregon

Send YOUR ideas to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Last Issue's Question

"I work full time. My husband is disabled and home schools our teen-
age son. We don’t seem to have any local organizations for dads. My
husband would like to participate in group activities but they all
consist of moms and he’s just not comfortable. Can we hear from some
dads about what are they doing?" -- A Mom in Arkansas

Our Readers' Responses

"Although my wife is the teacher in our school, I had a desire to con-
nect and do things with other homeschool dads. Similar to your
situation there were no organizations or group activities really geared
towards the dads. Unfortunately, if your husband has the passion
and/or desire, I believe he will need to be the one to start organizing
activities for dads.

I started a couple of things to get the ball rolling. I organized a
"Dad's Night Out". This allowed the dad's a chance to meet and get to
know one another. I also organized a home-school dads small
group/support group. We meet every other Friday morning from 6:30 am
to 7:30 am for breakfast. We used to try to do formal studies, but
quickly realized the group works best when we discuss our schools,
relationships and life and how we can improve. There are 5 of us who
have been meeting for about 3-4 years. One of the dads is the primary
teacher in his school.

From group activity perspective, I organized a few co-ops where I
"encouraged" the dads to be the teachers. These have been quite
successful even though some of the dads get quite intimidated about
teaching/leading the co-op. One suggestion here is to use the Junior
Achievement program (www.ja.org). Our local chapter has been wonderful
in supplying us with the materials. This is a great intro for dads who
don't teach as they give you all of the materials and a teacher's guide
which basically tells you what to say.

Other links of interest:

National Home Education Network has a "For Dads by Dads" section

Ann Zeise also has a homeschool dads section on her site. Your
husband can at least read some of the blogs of other homeschool dads.

Todd Wilson's site/newsletter is a great encouragement for homeschool
dads (and dads in general) http://www.familymanweb.com/

One more item, I put together a internet group (e.g., Yahoo Groups or
SmartGroups), that is just for homeschool dads to share their thoughts
& comments. The key benefit is they guys do not have to remember
all of the email addresses of everyone in the group. They just email to
the group address. My group is private, but I know there are public
groups out there." (eg: www.groups.yahoo.com, www.smartgroups.com,
www.groups.google.com) -- Rich in Illinois


"My husband is a SAHD (Stay-At-Home-Dad) too. He goes to the same
organizations and support groups that a SAHM would. There are two or
three other husbands that attend sporadically; he is the only fulltimer.
Attending these groups encourages other dads who wouldn't otherwise
attend to come out. They know they will not be alone." -- Pam


"Our homeschool group started a meeting for dads. They meet once a
month for breakfast and then at our meeting once a month dads have
their own group if they want to go. It's a small group, but dads need
support also." -- Carol from Iowa


"Hi Heather -- One dad in our homeschool group, who actively teaches
his teenaged boys, urged your reader to get involved in 4-H. They live
in the city but still love the program. 4-H has lots of free materials
too and they build all their unit studies around the boys projects.
Everything except math and English is built around the 4-H projects and
it's great for character development. This past year, the boys raised
citrus trees and sold them at a profit at the fair." -- Rhonda


"I have some health issues and occasionally cannot attend our local
homeschool group that meets on Friday's. My husband has
subsequently taken the children in my place. At first he was uncom-
fortable, but the other Mom's are just great and always welcome him.
Granted, he cannot participate in all of the "female" topic conver-
sations, but the other Mom's usually keep the conversation appropriate
and keep him included. My husband is always willing to help out when I
am not feeling well. Thank goodness!" -- Lara in Arizona


"He may be able to connect to the Vision Forum people and they may
have some ideas for him. He could start a father son class and teach
something he knows and is comfortable with to others. Then from there
spin off some father son field trips or avctivities on Saturday or
weekday evenings. He might contact the local homeschooling group to
see if they have a newsletter and write articles that will inspire dads
to get together with other dads and their sons. He could also share
his father and son experiences which could draw dads to him." -- from
Kathy at TheSourceDaily.Com


"I am a mom home schooling my two young sons. I am a member of
the local LEAH (loving education at home) group. We do have a few
dads that attend the meetings. It would be worth looking into LEAH or
similar group.

My sons and I also attend a home school co-op. Again, it is all moms
and their children that attend. We have tried to see if there were dads
out there that may have been willing to use their lunch to teach a class
- especially to the older boys. Try finding a co-op to be involved in.
They may love having a dad around!

Try contacting other home schoolers in your area and see if the dads
(whose wives do the bulk of the teaching) and see if they want to start
a once-a-month dissusion group in order to bounce ideas off of each
other. You may even be able to do projects with the kids on occasion
that will give the moms time off from teaching. It may really get the
reluctant dads more involved with the education of their own children.

You are in a unique situation! Don't get discouraged! Try thinking out
of the box to reach out to the other dads!" -- Heidi W.

Answer our NEW Question

"Does anyone feel that they have benefited from homeschooling a
child with Tourret's? How can I encourage a homeschooling mother
whose 6 year old was just diagnosed? Anything helpful that can be
done at home? Thank you!" -- Sharron in Missouri


Do you have some advice for this mom? Please write in!
Send your responses to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


Do you have a burning question that you can't ask just anyone?
Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if our readers can help you out.


St. Patrick's Day Fun!

Visit EasyFunSchool's St. Patrick's Day index for
some fun, easy, quick activities today!


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Please sign-up for the group and take our poll, even if you want
to go "no mail" for the loop. This will help me to understand what
ages your children are, how you school, etc. (The information will
be kept anonymous and private, of course.)

Here is the link to sign-up and take the poll:



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