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Sport for homeschooling – you have more options than you think

Homeschooling is often seen as a limited education choice – not only in terms of socialization but also in participation in sports – but this is not the case. In fact, homeschooled children often have MORE access to participation in sports as well as other social and cultural pursuits than their public-schooled peers. This article will review how and where homeschoolers compete and participate in sports in South Africa.

Can homeschoolers participate in sports? Which sports?

Yes, homeschoolers can participate in just about any sports they choose such as:

cricket

tennis

netball

swimming

hockey

soccer

athletics

polo

tug-of-war

 

gymnastics

rowing

fishing 

dance

martial arts

ballet

softball

archery

squash

horse riding

surfing

ice skating

underwater hockey

golf

fencing

cycling

rock climbing

parkour

Whereas school learners are limited to an extent by the sports offered at the school, home learners have the freedom to choose from a diversity of sports offered by clubs in the area.

Can you compete in sport as a homeschooler?

Of course. Home education affords children the opportunity to spend much more time practicing their chosen sport and sharpening their skills. This makes them a force to be reckoned with on the playing field, because they often have more self-discipline and better technique.

Participating and competing in sports is an important part of homeschoolers’ social life an education, as for public school children. The flexibility of routine and schedules simply make it easier to practice and shift schoolwork to other times of the day.

Is it possible for homeschoolers to take part in activities at public and private schools?

Yes, technically schools are supposed to allow and encourage that, but not all do. Most parents say that it depends on where you live and which schools you ask. Private schools seem to be more amenable to allowing homeschoolers to participate, but public schools less so. If your local public and/or private schools say no, it is better to let your child train with private coaches and clubs.

Can homeschoolers compete on provincial and national level?

Yes. Many homeschoolers compete – very successfully – as part of private clubs or with school teams. Rebekka Liebenberg, a homeschool parent and advocate, commented, “Those [homeschoolers] who get into private clubs have an advantage here.”

Are the rules different for homeschoolers than school children?

No. The rules are not different, although homeschoolers may encounter bias from certain schools or clubs. Traditionally, schools take a rather misinformed view of homeschooling, which is a pity because they miss an opportunity to include talented young athletes who could potentially boost their prestige and rankings. However, when a home learner gets a position in i.e., the A-team, it means that a school learner does not get a position in that team and is moved to the B-team. This can sometimes cause friction in schools.

Benefits of doing sport as a homeschooler

1. More variety to choose from

Homeschooled learners can participate in a far wider range of sports than most schools are typically equipped to offer, because parents may have more funds and time available to do so than if they were paying school fees as well. Sports like archery, fencing, water polo, and horse riding are good examples.

Brigitte Williams, a parent with a very sporty family, says, “My children played cricket for a club, and have played various sports at a local primary school. They now do bouldering (rock climbing without ropes) at a local gym and outdoors with friends. They learned to sail through Scouts and classes at the local yacht club. They also mountain bike, but for fun, not competitively. There are events where homeschoolers are now eligible to participate (thanks to the efforts of another homeschooling family).

2. More time to train

When a child loves a sport and shows talent, the more training time he/she can get, the better. Homeschooling makes this possible and allows the child to use their motivation and interest to complete their schoolwork to be able to continue training.

Gillian Wright-Ingle says, “The lovely thing about homeschooling is riding early in the morning before it gets too hot and being able to spend time at the stables. All the interesting stuff, e.g., shoeing the horses, happens in the morning. The afternoons are packed with one lesson after another.”

3. Able to travel and compete

When children become serious competitors, homeschooling affords the time and flexibility to learn while traveling to competitions. Their dedication is often the main reason for switching to homeschooling, as Tasia Fourie shares, “We do racing (cars) at national and regional levels. Prior to that, we did karting at both levels as well. It was our main reason for switching to homeschooling.


Alida Engelbrecht, whose son is an excellent golf player, shares, “Golf is a very time-consuming sport and practicing 1 or 2 hours a week is simply not enough. We school at home, when traveling for competitions, in hotel rooms, golf club restaurants, wherever we find ourselves. He is 16 years old, currently 8th on the Boland u19 rankings with a 1 handicap index. He has represented Western Province in the past.

Taking initiative in sport for homeschoolers

If you cannot find a school or club that will allow your child to participate in her/her chosen sport, try to find other families with similar interests and set something up on your own, or approach a school or club as a group of homeschooling families. Sometimes, all it takes to be included is a bit of solidarity and initiative. Who knows, the school who changes their mind may thank you for it later!

Who can I contact for sport in my area?

First, you may find it most helpful to connect with your local homeschool community, and then ask those who participate in the sports your children are interested in for advice. Next, approach your local sports clubs.

You can also look at the following sites for more information:

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