Sometimes you just gotta do it yourself. One thing I’ve learned about homeschooling over the past 9 years is that Homeschooling Mamas will jump through all kinds of hoops to give their kidlets a good, customized education. That’s one of the best things that differentiates homeschooling from “away-from-home” schooling, in my opinion. We focus on the typical three-Rs, but then we can let the kids follow their own interests and passions.
A few years ago, Rocketboy had told me how he had seen a robotics competition online that kids his age had been involved in. It did look like a lot of fun, and he was wondering how he could get involved in something like it. The chance to learn robotics, engineering, programming, and teamwork all in one– how cool! Though of course, after checking around, our smallish town didn’t have any such opportunities. The closest robotics group I could find was an hour and a half south on the other side of a major city. Wasn’t gonna happen. So what do homeschooling moms do? We look for other opportunities or make it happen ourselves!
That’s how I discovered that 4-H offers robotics. Yes really! I knew absolutely nothing about 4-H other than it was something that farm kids liked to join to show off their cows and pigs and chickens at county fairs. Turns out that while 4-H still has livestock activities, they have also made the attempt to step into the 21st century with such offerings as aerospace education, robotics, electronics, computer programming…
To be honest, I didn’t start out looking for robotics opportunities with the idea in mind to start up my own 4-H group, but that’s the only way I found to get a robotics program closeby, so that’s what happened. Our group began with robotics as our
main only focus, but eventually evolved and now includes other 4-H projects as well. It’s been a great learning experience for both me and the kiddos, and now the girls are getting involved too! Our group is made up of mostly (but not all!) homeschoolers, and I’ve really enjoyed watching the other kiddos involved enjoying projects and learning in our group too.
Last year, our robotics education project expanded into two groups. One group used the basic 4-H robotics curriculum, and then we started a more advanced group that has become involved with FIRST LEGO League. You can read more about FLL at the link, but the kids have had such a great time learning about real-world issues, coming up with their own solutions and putting their robotics skills to the test. This year’s game has a space theme, so Rocketboy has definitely been in his element.
I’m thankful we found these opportunities through 4-H. Fixergirl is still young enough that she’s only been involved with the CloverKids program, but next year she will get to be involved in some “real” projects and she’s really excited about that. Ottergirl had the chance to choose her projects for the first time last year and did Outdoor Adventures, where she learned about navigation, camping and hiking prep, recipes, and supplies, etc. and we got to go hiking. She also chose Archery and earned a first place award for her division during our local tournament. This year, she’s joined the Robotics Team as well. She’s also looking at signing up for Cake Decorating, Crocheting and Dog Training this year. There are a lot of options. I keep having to tell her that she needs to save some of those projects for other years, and can’t do them all at once!
In Missouri, our 4-H year starts the beginning of October. At $20 per kiddo for the whole year, it’s been a real educational bargain. We’ve also had the chance to help out with various community service projects throughout the year. Last 4-H year, our group applied (and won!) a community improvement grant to put dog agility equipment in at our local dog park. The kids got to help install the equipment, and we’ll be presenting the City Council with the check and getting to meet our city’s Mayor next week. Rocketboy is a bit nervous because as elected Club President he’s going to be up there in front of the entire City Council to present the check, but 4-H has given him many leadership opportunities similar to this one, that, as homeschoolers especially, we wouldn’t have had the chance to give him otherwise.
If you’re not familiar with 4-H, but would like some awesome opportunities for supplementing your homeschooling journey, contact your local 4-H extension office to inquire about 4-H clubs operating in your area.
How have you made it happen for your homeschooled kiddos? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!
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