(The following is a guest post from Rebecca Toon, author and creator of Homeschool on the Ranch.)
Did you know rodeo can be counted as a school elective? It doesn’t have to be just an expensive hobby. Yes, it’s expensive. But there are so many lessons and skills learned when your kids rodeo I can’t even count them all.
Two out of our four kids rodeo so far. Our oldest son rides mini bareback ponies and is learning how to rope. Our oldest daughter runs barrels, poles, and is learning to goat tye and rope. Since we’ve started junior rodeos they’ve learned many lessons and life skills that’ll benefit them for years to come.
Let’s talk about the life skills your kids will learn from the rodeo.
Taking care of something other than themselves
This is huge. Kids are naturally selfish. When your kids have to go out in 10-degree weather, unfreeze the water hose, and water, feed, and hay the horses, then they learn a little something about selflessness. Our horses completely depend upon our kids for water and food and I tell them time and time again, if they aren’t watered every day they’ll die. It’s up to them to keep them alive.
This kind of goes along with taking care of the animals, but they also learn the responsibility of keeping up and taking care of all of their tack and supplies. I can’t do it all for them. I won’t. It’s not doing them any favors by doing so.
They know their tack, supplies, rodeo bag, etc. has to be taken care of, oiled on occasion, and loaded up for every rodeo. If it’s not in the trailer when we get to the rodeo, they get to figure something out when we get there. It very seldom happens anymore because they’ve learned to be responsible and take care of it.
Rodeo isn’t cheap. Our kids work on our ranch to earn their entry fees and they work hard. When they have some extra they help us pay for their tack and supplies. Our goal is to help them learn how to manage their money and learn to pay their “bills” first and buy their wants after.
Winning Doesn’t Come Easily
Rodeo is a sport that’s full of let downs. There’s only one winner at the end of the day. It sounds harsh, but that’s just the way it is. We’ve been doing this for a year and a half and our daughter finally won her first check last weekend. My son has won 1.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice, practice, practice. You and your horse have to be in sync. You both have to be the ying to the yang, so to speak. Working in harmony and such. Practice is how you accomplish this. Practicing for the rodeo isn’t anything like walking out onto the basketball court and shooting some hoops. It’s catching your horses, loading them up and taking them to the arena, saddling them, warming them up, actually practicing, then unsaddling, taking them home, and letting them go. All in imperfect weather. It’s a lot of work.
Like I said before, rodeo is full of let downs. It’s a sport that will teach your kids to be a gracious loser. Losing’s not fun, but they’ve learned to have fun without winning.
Since homeschoolers get such a bad wrap for not being socialized, this is a great reason to rodeo. Our kids socialize with all ages of people at rodeos. From parents to teenagers to the kids their own age. These people become your family by the end of the season.
The great thing about rodeo people is they always spur each other on and want to help each other be the best that they can be. You’ll always see the kids helping each other and letting each other know what they did wrong and what they can do to fix it.
My daughter has a teenage friend helping her become better. They’re in competition with each other at the barrel racings we go to, but they both want each other to be the best that they can be.
Rodeo is a lot of work for parents. It’s expensive, it’s tiresome, and a lot of sacrifices are made. I don’t always like it, but I know that we’re making a great investment in our children’s future.
About Rebecca – Hey, ya’ll – I’m Rebecca. I’m a homeschooling mom of 4. I spend my days homeschooling, momin’, blogging, and helping my husband on our ranch. I love encouraging other moms in their homeschooling journey. Visit me over at Homeschool on the Ranch. Keep up to date on my Facebook Page, Facebook group Relaxed Homeschool Moms, Instagram and Pinterest.
Homeschooling is a Unique System
To homeschool high school requires a certain amount of core subjects to graduate. Of course, as homeschooling parents, we know this.
But here is something you probably DON’T know, or have never considered:
While many families use traditional methods of teaching such as textbooks and workbooks, there is a system that is vastly superior and far more engaging, especially for struggling learners and those on the Spectrum.
And while homeschool electives these days seem to be unending as far as choices, gaming as a homeschool elective can function as several electives in one.
It truly combines many subjects of homeschool high school into one, making life far more enjoyable for your students, less stressful, more engaging, and thus increasing, in the long run, their academic proficiency which will better prepare them for their futures.
What is this system? It’s adding gaming as a homeschool elective.
RPGs to Homeschool High School
Role Playing Games (RPGs) incorporated into learning and exercise.
Now chances are your child is already well-versed in RPGs. After all, it’s how most video games these days are played. My son, now 17, likes to Play Skyrum and Mountblade. He also loves Lord of the Rings and Narnia, just like I do.
The most well known and controversial RPG game is Dungeons & Dragons.
Dungeons and Dragons, despite the normal bad rep, is neither good nor evil; but is defined by the actions and the heart of the DM (Dungeon Master) who oversees the running of the story world. When in a D&D session, with a good morale DM you are likely to have a clean and fun game. If the DM is chaotic and ungrounded in their morals, the game will be dark and fall into inappropriate content.
My RPG Experience
Years ago as a teen, I was a Dungeon Master (DM) myself and spent countless hours writing fantasy novels, creating worlds, making timelines, and making up my own languages.
I also spent my childhood “playing Narnia” in the Mesa behind my backyard. These were idyllic hours of pretend play as we would battle foes as Narnians. You could not get me in before 9 o’clock on a summer evening!
An Intriguing Idea
So when my nephew, Nate, came to visit several years ago and suggested we use RPG for homeschooling I was intrigued. A DM himself and a participant in several RPG live action groups, he recognized the potential this had for learning.
I saw what it could do for my son and other kids like him who are on the Autism Spectrum. Kids who hid themselves in front of a computer and had very little motivation to do anything else.
Our Epic Quest
So began our epic quest in starting a LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) Club and Camp. We far exceeded expectations in enrollment and what’s even more important, we made an incredible impact.
We also incorporated a collaborative group storytelling hour that Nate calls “Advanced Narrative Roleplay (ANR). Many parents see D&D as problematic so we took that element out and through creating our own world with Christ-centered emphasis, we made the theme of our play defeating evil by a group of heroes. The ANR is by far the most favorite part of our club and camp!
Through our programs we saw:
- Children and parents making friends, in many cases for the first time ever
- The kids had freedom of creative expression, which helped their confidence
- Some of them came hating to write and left having a passion for it. One is even writing a novel!
- Children’s aggressive behavior was mitigated and those who were bullied learned to appropriately stand up for themselves
- Children learned how to collaborate in teams
- Students who felt helpless, near suicidal, depressed, hopeless, and far from God began seeking, asking for help, and committing their lives to Him!
As one of our students told me, our group was a lifeline to him!
So as the new school year approaches, we are adding another layer: ancient history. Each year we will add another historical time period.
The Possibilities are Endless!
But the possibility for using RPG in homeschool high school and in any grade level is limitless. Math, literature, writing, science…
And of course, with the LARPing, we had a PE component to it. The children make boffer swords and then duke it out in ditch battling sessions and play games like King of the Hill, Zombie Apocalypse, Capture the Flag. They run around OUTSIDE and interact with each other. It helps build teamwork, muscle coordination, eye-hand coordination…
But most of all, THEY LOVE IT!
My son? He is becoming a leader through all this. He spends less time playing video games and more time thinking about costumes or what different weapon he can make or shield he can construct. At this time, he’s attempting to make wooden swords and then sell them for a business.
What can LARPing and RPG learning do for your child? All this and more!
If you’re ready for an out of the box experience and an immersive learning tool, consider this creative approach to teaching homeschool high school today.
(Want more ideas on how to add gaming as a homeschool elective? Check out our game design course!)