Thursday, January 17, 2013

The New (to us!) Homeschool Group

This is group hole digging, part of the fun that was had today with new friends.

From our limited experience, I have made the following observation about homeschooling groups:

1. The tone or flavor of the group is set by the most active parents.

2. The parents tend to be of the mom variety.

3. The group as a whole often leans toward free play/loosely structured activities or structured classes/school-at-home type group projects. (This isn't always spelled out , but you can tell after a little while.)

4. They often serve as a clearinghouse of information about cool offerings in or near the area, with heads-up about interesting festivals, events, activities, shows, etc.

5. There is a structure to them, even if it doesn't look like it or isn't explicitly stated. Some are cooperative, with most parents contributing somehow. Some have formal or informal organizers who host events and get the word out to other families. And some are more like cliques, but not in a bad way; they are more like groups of friends getting together to do things, and extending the invitation out to others (or at least being open to others finding them).

So, the homeschoolers-seeking-community have a little feeling-out to do in any new group to figure out how thing go and if the group is a good fit for them.

So far, we have experienced a group that was more like a clique, and it was clique of moms with mostly older kids, so we had a hard time really breaking through to the friend level (me and the kids). And we have experienced the free play/loosey-goosey kind, which was great until we were the only ones faithfully showing up each week! And now--NOW! :)!--we have experienced one that, at least for the moment, seems to be loosely structured, AND geared toward the younger set, AND full of active contributing parents, AND has mucho friend potential.

We had a very terrific morning with these folks.

The group was an offshoot of the loosey-goosey group that we loved, but that kind of petered out. A handful of moms picked up the pieces and started to plan bimonthly crafts and occasional park days. The group grew. More moms contributed. I'm trying to stay in the moment, to take today's happiness for what it was and not reach out to expect more, but I am really thinking that this is going to be a very sweet part of our homeschooling here in Fayetteville, at least for a while.

The theme of the month that the organizing moms set on was birds, and we all knew in advance to bring bird-related show-and-tell. One mom circled the kids up and helped them to go one at a time. Woody liked this a great deal. He rehearsed what he was going to say when he showed out Project FeederWatch poster: "This is the poster we use to identify the birds we see." He said those words exactly, and smiled proudly when he sat back down. He chatted with other kids about what they brought to share.

There was a craft, ongoing so the kids could sit and do or go out and play, as suited them. Woody played, then did the craft--making a mini bird feeder from a craft stick dipped in peanut butter and rolled in bird seed--then played. Fox full-on played the whole time. The kids ran as a happy pack. Parents watched and helped as needed. The age range was 2 to 8. The potluck was healthy and delicious--deviled eggs, olive tray, egg casserole, corn chips and bean dip, sliced avocado.

It felt as if we finally found our little group. AND! When we came home, Woody immediately hung up his craft-stick bird feeder, and within moments two little Tufted Titmice came to investigate it. He was delighted.

A favorite Charley Harper print of my personal favorite songbird. I think what I like most about them is their sweet little faces with the big, dark eyes.