Seriously. Hear me out.
And yes, I mean that twinkle-toed Fred Flintstone throwing the ball down the alley and knocking down the ten pins kind of bowling. Because it is, indeed, the perfect activity for homeschoolers. Here’s why:
1. It’s a cheap date. Go during a weekday afternoon when it’s dead. If you bowl more than a few times a year, it’s worth investing in your own bowling shoes. (Mine are two-tone sparkly purple that I wear with my lucky Hello Kitty anklets.) If you like the game, buy a bowling ball that’s weighted and drilled to your specs. (Mine is a ten-pound Shrek Princesses Viz-A-Ball.)
2. Anybody older than an infant can do it. Most lanes offer bumpers that cover the gutters and a bowling ball ramp for people who can’t hold a bowling ball. Look– I’ve watched a guy with no legs bowl and bowl very well (without using bumpers or a ramp.) So don’t tell me you “can’t bowl.”
3. Using bumpers or a ball ramp opens up the whole math/angles/trajectory conversation/experimentation. If you really wanna make a lesson plan out of it, throw in some history, starting with the fact from the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame that a British anthropologist, Sir Flinders Petrie, discovered in the 1930’s a collection of objects in a child’s grave in Egypt that appeared to him to be used for a crude form of bowling.
4. It’s social. You can sit, talk and eat with no assigned seating or being shushed.
5. The game has a simple structure, order and etiquette that even the most feral homeschooler can understand and the most relaxed parent can enforce. (If they don’t, the management or other bowlers will.)
6. Scorekeeping, once done via overhead projectors with acetate sheets and wax pencils, is now automated. So nobody gets bogged down with the math. But the kids can still follow along with the overhead computer screen. And it gives hints!
7. As long as you don’t cross a lane or the foul line, how you get your ball down the lane is your business. A bowler’s approach, release, spin, and curve – all free form and fluid.
8. You have ten frames to learn from, improve or repeat your mistakes. And it’s all on you, baby. Because a little pressure, however self-induced—is good for the spirit.
9. Kids (and their parents) do experience a certain degree of competition, if only with themselves. Trust me, there have been tears. But not for long. Everybody cheers for everybody.
10. And we all go home winners.