That old chestnut, socialisation, is starting to rear it’s head as a problem again but not in the way outsiders might expect. Actually been an issue in this way for some time just happens to be in my mind.
The problem in our local area is actually the sheer scale of numbers of people home educating. Once upon a time I probably knew nearly everyone home educating with in a 30 mile radius of our house by face or at least by online presence (well on the mainland). Now I am aware I almost certainly don’t know everyone in a 3 mile radius! In fact there are probably similar numbers in that 3 mile radius now that there were in the 30 mile radius 12 years ago.
How can this possibly be a bad thing? Well obviously in many ways it is wonderful, there are many more people to gel with and many more activities to chose from.
I do worry about new members though. As the groups have grown people understandably separate out into smaller groups (I hope not cliques although can see why people would say that). People don’t see the same people so regularly so at events new people get missed as it’s not obvious they are new or just someone you don’t know. Plus people are often distracted, catching up with someone they have known for 3 years but haven’t managed to cross paths with in 6 months, and despite best intentions might not make it over to talk to that person on their second visit.
Also where do you start? When I started out the local HE group had 2 activities a week and if you wanted to meet home eders you went along to them. I can only imagine what looking at this whole long list of stuff on offer does to people and how scary it is to try and find your way in. Because there is so much on so easy to put it off to another day if you are nervous about going along. Sadly for shy/anxious children, those with ASD, or those newly deregistered the scale of numbers must be off putting. We regularly get at least 25 and can be 50+ children to social activities, the group that runs tutorials gets many, many more. That many children even when actively engaged are noisy.
As an organiser the biggest problem is how do you cap numbers without guilt (lots of guilt)? I find myself frequently booking more than one workshop from the same people just so we can fit in more but that is still not enough. In the middle of a set of two workshops where we will end up accommodating around 70 children. The same activity was offered on a drop on basis a very easy trip away only a month ago and still I ended up with a waiting list. Not just me doing it either, virtually every local trip/activity fills really quickly. I can imagine running a trip/activity is a scary prospect for many now. The organising is a much bigger job than it was. Invite only stuff makes me feel uncomfortable, we’ve been left out and hasn’t felt nice but when you can only accommodate a handful I get wanting to make sure it is your child’s friends.
One real positive of the growth is after a few years where every activity was dominated by younger children and the only way to ‘socialise’ with over 1o’s was to attend tutorials is we do have a real thriving group of 11-14yo out and about at trips and social activities, which is very nice to see.
I am not sure where I was going with this (started it too long ago!) more a general observation and wondering what the next 5 years will bring. Already we see moves where organisations are taking responsibility and creating events for home educators to book with them. Wonder if that is the future? More organised with services provided professionally/semi-professionally? Is it the death of every one bringing an activity to do at a church hall table style of group? What will all this mean for the feeling of ‘community’?
For us personally we are happy, we get a good mix of big group socialising with lots of ages, time with friends, time with family and time just us. We don’t have anywhere near enough time to spend as much time with each friend as we’d like unfortunately, but have accepted that we can’t do it all.