Why DI is Great for Homeschooling Families

By: Michelle Talkington, Team Manager, Maryland

For those of you who do not homeschool, let me assure you that it works, but it is not for everyone. My fellow homeschooling moms, dads and extended family members know that there are several challenges and benefits of homeschooling. At some point, most of us ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this? I could have these kids in school and be reading a book right now.”

I never intended to homeschool. In fact, I began my children’s educational journey in the private and public schools of Maryland. My daughter, Alorah, participated in her first Destination Imagination (DI) tournament in the first grade. The elementary school she attended was well versed in DI, and I volunteered as a Team Manager along with a fellow mom. She was in love with the program and still is (so am I). While she never made it to Global Finals with her teams, the Regional and Affiliate Tournaments provided her with life-changing memories. DI was so important to her that she decided to become a Team Manager this season.

Destination Imagination is not just for students in public or private schools; it’s great for homeschoolers too! My second child was pre-K age when we decided to homeschool our younger children. We still talked about Destination Imagination but didn’t realize that we could participate without the support of a public school. Forgive my shouting, but “You can and you SHOULD participate in DI if you are homeschooling!” It took some navigation of the website and conversations with friends and fellow DI Team Managers to realize that all you need are 2-7 kids, a few committed adults, and a place to meet. The entry fee is relatively cheap compared to some of the many activities homeschooling families invest in.

You can act as the sponsor and the Team Manager to start a homeschooled DI team. That is just what I did in 2016 when I entered two teams (1 Elementary Level, 1 Middle Level) into the Destination Imagination Regional Tournament in Southern Maryland. I was a bit intimidated because the program had very few private organizations who participated. The remaining groups in Charles county, one of Maryland’s largest competitive regions, were public or private schools. To that, I finally said, who cares? Bring it on! Let’s take this opportunity to show that homeschooled children are able to compete in STEM and performance programs just like other students.

Destination Imagination is an amazing opportunity for homeschooled children to showcase their abilities to peers. The beauty of DI is the process, the teamwork, the problem solving, and the glorious demonstration of the final product. Just watching the hundreds of other children performing and showcasing their Challenge solutions is worth participating. Don’t worry if things go wrong in the rehearsals or competition. How many times do things get off track when you’re homeschooling? (In my case, weekly.) Homeschooled children deserve the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge they have gained in their educational experience and public and privately educated students should see who we are!

Destination Imagination is making the conscious effort to reach out to the homeschooling community, and to that I say, “thank you!” To my fellow homeschooling parents, I urge you to research the program and share it. If you’re like me, there are some of you who can build one or two teams from your own children. Share it with your co-ops, homeschooling programs and churches. The best starting advice I can give is to find a parent, Team Manager or a local school that is already involved with the program and ask them for good contacts or advice. In my experience, DI Team Managers are eager to share what they have learned.

Once you take on the challenge and join DI, I urge you to read the Rules of the Road—twice. Start your team early (a benefit of homeschooling), plan your meetings carefully and don’t stress. Remember not to interfere, as this program is designed to have the Team Managers guide while the children direct and finalize the project. Take the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labor as your team grows. Watch videos of previous competitions, practice improvisation, and have fun with Instant Challenge activities at every meeting. This program is worth it and your children and homeschooling journey will be the better for it.

Purchase your 2017-18 Team Number today!