… always a tricky one. Those who tell you it isn’t are either very lucky, or lying.
Feel we are at a bit of a crossroads with regards to participation in home education activities/groups and really undecided over which path to take. We are close to having it right but not quite there.
We have a day of group classes at mine once a week and this works really well for us. The children get on and so do the adults. It is very light hearted focus on fun side and encouraging co-operation and sharing ideas. We usually fit in something else more ad hoc, sometimes just trip to the park or cinema or museum etc with one friend or another or sometimes an organised trip. It is what we do for a larger group/less structured stuff that is the issue, the fortnightly group we were doing on a Monday was working for Sam, he likes ‘structured fun’ if that makes sense, but not really for me (mostly because of the venue) and for some of the younger ones so numbers have thinned down. There may be enough to keep it going on a small scale but not sure if it is what we want.
In a way we are very lucky there is a massive number of home educators in the county, if you are prepared to make the effort to get out and about you could do something every day. But the trouble is there is not really anything we want to do at a place/time that is doable for us…
So these are the ways we could go…
1) I have seen a lovely hall ‘practically perfect in every way’. My mind has been racing with ideas for using it. I love organising kids activities and have a whole book of notes on things I would love to do. Learning alongside others like we do on Weds is definitely working well for Sam. The problem would be finding enough people of a similar mind set (and with children of similar age) to do something that would appeal.
2) Join in with existing groups/activities. The trouble with not driving is everything is a faff to get to so you really question yourself whether it is worth it. A friend is setting up a much needed hall meet this side of the harbour but for us it doesn’t feel as if it would be right, would definitely be more for me to see people than him and can’t justify that (and don’t really feel the need). There is a wonderful set up locally with tutored classes, but that doesn’t appeal to either of us but then neither do the Adventure playgrounds… we’re difficult to please 😉
3) Not bother with anything organised, do the odd trip/ad hoc activity but in general settle for ‘playmeets’/days out with friends.
I think the issue is neither of us are large group people really, both of us struggle with the noise and chaos. Sam is like me, he will play happily with most people in small groups but in larger group situations he seems to retreat into his ‘band’ (or himself) which makes it seem a bit pointless to do a group if it is fuss to get to if he is happy meeting a friend at a mutually convenient time/place.
To be honest I think I am a bit jaded with it all. Couple of weeks ago we did a coffee morning and it just exhausted me! Met some lovely people and some very sweet children whom I would happily see and chat to more but the home ed scene locally is ‘young’, very few about mixing at this sort of thing with age 8+ so for Sam he’s really not bothered. Plus I can’t take the stress, the sinking feeling when I saw the storage room floor plastered with ground in playdough, well it still makes me shudder! Straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ve had my fill of doing hall based stuff! It is turning me into someone I dislike; stressy, grumpy and snappy with children, especially poor Sam, I find myself picking up on the slightest thing, and bless him he really doesn’t deserve it and he is not used to it 🙁 To be fair a better venue would alleviate lot of the stress but never going to get one that is right, the one above that I said is ‘practically perfect in every way’ has beautifully laid out flower beds for example which would be a never ending worry and concern to me…
I had already made the decision not to book any big trips this year due to getting fed up of being messed about regarding payment, people not turning up etc and then having a couple of potentially embarrassing incidents with behaviour that I won’t go in to – actually it was just one particular one and I am relying on hearsay that it happened at all, but was enough for me to think – no more!
So where does that leave us?
On one hand we have activities that work for us and we have good friends, it would be easy to stick to our small groups, indeed it would be nice to chisel out more times to see these friends. But I do think that is a bit confining and Sam whether he wants it or not would benefit from a wider social circle. Also will always feel bit guilty over having invite only groups, doesn’t feel very inclusive which I feel home ed should be and worry it makes it difficult for new members (although there are plenty of meets about that are inclusive so I suspect I need to stop worrying about others). So that means I need to make sure we are getting out and keeping in contact with the wider home ed scene as well as going our own way.
Outdoors it is (or Fun City – we like Fun City!), I am a much nicer/more tolerant/less stressy person when I am not ‘in charge’ and fretting over damage. At places without fences and set times, where we can wander away when we need some respite and come and go when suits us (and bus timetable). Waiting for splash park weather 🙂
Toying with swimming now my gammy leg is nearly healed. Not really ideal for socialising but would allow us to touch base with people we rarely see which is enough for us and we do like swimming and we never get round to going so maybe we need make the effort to fit to a set time.
Keenly waiting on a local Forest School. If we do anything structured with a group I’d rather it be something we can’t do easily at home; sharing a tutor for Spanish works, I’d have liked him do the music group, these are not my natural skills neither is anything nature focussed really, much to my disappointment 🙁 Alternatively we like groups where the focus is on cooperation/working together and that is where both the Monday and Weds groups work well.
Sorry for the ramble, post was written over several days and kept losing train of thought.