Outside the Classroom

Many folks ask how my homeschooled children get to participate in extra-curricular activities.  It’s really as easy as doing some research, making calls, and then plugging the activities into our day.  There are endless possibilities in the community for students, whether homeschooled or not, to connect with others and have access to the arts and athletics.  But for us, volunteering is really the greatest experience for our children.

At first, I didn’t expect the reaction from them after serving in our botanical garden’s CASA garden.  This garden is planted every spring by a group of Master Gardeners at our local botanical garden.  Its purpose is to help feed the elderly and home bound.  Although I personally enjoy gardening and raising food for our family, I expected the kids to complain about the heat and hard work, and to try to do as little as possible.  Boy, was I wrong!  They actually enjoyed learning about soil and planting food from the older gardeners.  The kids seemed mesmerized each time we volunteered by how much a plant had grown since our last visit. 

When It was harvest time, the kids became competitive and each would proclaim that he would bring in the biggest bounty in the shortest amount of time.  Communication and self-discipline were areas that I could see growth in the children.  I’ve always said that having a garden is like having two infant children in the home because of all the attention it takes.  However, for the right person, it’s something that ignites passion.  I’m teaching my children how important it is to know where their food comes from.  And, nothing is as rewarding as going out back to pick fresh herbs and veggies that are chemical free, to cook a meal.  The community garden is another way they can learn about growing their own family’s food in the future.

Our favorite experience while volunteering at the CASA garden was getting to be a part of the delivery team one day.  On this day, we were able to ride along with some of the master gardeners in a van to deliver the fresh produce, that we helped grow, to the elderly and homebound.  I saw such kindness from my kids toward each person we visited.  I also saw a great sense of pride and self-satisfaction in the children knowing they had worked hard to make this moment possible.  They even knew some simple recipes, which the botanical garden had shared, that featured the produce as a main ingredient.  They made sure to supply this information to the elderly at each visit. 

In our family, we have made a commitment to make volunteering a cornerstone of the extra-curricular activities in our family’s home school program.  We plan to help out at the community garden every chance we get!

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