We left the public school system after Kindergarten because they couldn't work with dd's differing abilities in various areas (high ability in reading and math and low ability in handwriting which has since improved dramatically).
We've been homeschooling for the past 3 years (she's 8) and now that she's getting older I seem to be having a rough time providing enough social and supplemental activities. We live in a small town and I work from home so I want to make sure what we do outside of the house does count.
Currently we are participating in 2 homeschool groups which gives us 2 play dates a week, play soccer (practice 2x a week), and go to church twice a week. All of this is 30 minutes from our home in another smal town because as I said our town offers nothing.
I'm almost afraid to sign dd up for anything with the homeschooling groups because many of the classes are babyish. The group suggested for her age level in a writing co-op was "How to write a sentence" and in another co-op she really wanted to take a state history class but that was only offered to the age group up and she was stuck with a younger group. I found out later a child her age was allowed in that upper class because he had a sibling in that group. DD would have done fine! So all in all, the homeschoolers are not on her academic level and many of them are not on her maturity level. If given the choice, she prefers to play with children about a year and a half older than her (and I don't think this is an in appropriate age difference) but many times the cut offs for activities are currently excluding her. If I ask about an activity, I'm generally told the age limit is firm. If I don't ask, I'm told "Oh she could have done that!"
Do you have any suggestions of where to find supplemental activities that might also allow her to have some interaction with other children? She craves it but is bored in co-op classes and I'm starting to get tired of people second guessing my ability to judge her ability!
I think this is a temporary stage but I'm frustrated that I'm not able to provide what she needs.
What about some kind of music lessons? We find that music tends to be grouped much more by ability than by age. In my DD's group violin class, there is a girl two years younger than my DD, and another 18 months older. They play together very well.
Agree about music. My 8-year-old's violin group class mates are from 10 to 17. We've found it's similar with the martial art we've done (aikido)... the initial introductory class was very multi-age, and kids level up according to diligence, attitude and mastery, meaning that she was the youngest by a long shot within a year, and that was perfectly fine with the sensei and everyone else.
We also tend to look for activities where the age range of the class would put her right at the younger end. This week for example she's doing a felting and puppetry workshop with 8- to 11-year-olds at the local public school.
We are in a very small town as well (600 people, with another thousand or so within a radius of 40 minutes drive). There isn't much; there are only another six homeschoolers in the area. We just do what we can.
But we don't necessarily need classes or activities for social time away from home. Sometimes we just go out and about to see people and get out in the community. For example we just got back from watching a choir performance tonight. We volunteered to do some of the set-up before, and helped at the refreshment table, did dishes afterwards. Dd probably talked to dozens of people, some older kids and teens but most of them adult friends. This afternoon we watched a middle school soccer game. On the weekend we'll go and visit some old friends out of town. Socializing doesn't have to be with other kids.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
Does she like to swim? Is there a swim team in your town? The swim team here is very sociable plus there are more practices than other sports like soccer so more time to see friends. The kids on it all really seem to enjoy it. And the side benefit is that being a strong swimmer is a great skill to have.
I'm wondering if you've tried organizing any of your own activities and inviting other homeschoolers. If there is enough of a population for the co-op there is likely enough of a population for something that would be more in line with your daughter's interests as well. It doesn't have to be anything incredibly elaborate or time consuming maybe just a biology class for three kids with a college student or a retired person as a teacher. Start small and build from there.
I spent the first year at our co-op extremely frustrated -- extremely! Then, I adjusted my expectations. My kids aren't really there for academics. They are there to make friends and experience a classroom setting and all that goes with it. Since then, I have enrolled them in total fluff. When I recognized that the true goal of the co-op for our family was not education, it made the experience much more enjoyable.
Now, when my son tells me that the teacher didn't do anything, and they just played with Legos, it doesn't tick me off so bad. He's learning to work with a group, see that some people are difficult to deal with, and have a chance to make some friends and learn to be tolerant of others. Meanwhile, they'll get their education at home where I can tailor it to their level.
It sounds like the classes are for kids who are behind grade level; the kindergartner's in my middle son's class can all write a sentence. Some write long stories. A lot of homeschoolers/unschoolers delay reading/writing until 7 or 8 though. Maybe you could find some sort of after school academic enrichment stuff meant for kids who go to school?
My kids aren't really there for academics. They are there to make friends and experience a classroom setting and all that goes with it. Since then, I have enrolled them in total fluff. When I recognized that the true goal of the co-op for our family was not education, it made the experience much more enjoyable.
I very much agree with this approach. We did the same. In fact, I found that if my kids got seriously interested in whatever the "fluff" was (pottery, art, gymnastics, whatever), it was likely time to find a different venue for them to pursue that. The homeschool co-op classes were mostly for socializing and a bit of incidental exposure to some new learning area. Any serious pursuit of learning was far better in a different sort of environment.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
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