Do you organize homeschool activities? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 08-23-2014, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you organize homeschool activities?

I saw this in another thread: "I also put a lot of effort into organizing things where the kids would be with other nice kids and where things could be unstructured but with some planned activities as a backup. I ran a lot of the show as a homeschooling mom in different groups. It was exhausting. I regret a lot of that."

It really got me thinking because I have young kids right now and I am putting a lot of effort into creating a homeschooling community and activities for my sons to do with other kids. Is it worth it in the end? Should I be using that time for something else? What have you found?

BTW I am not worried about "socialization." My kiddos socialize just fine with all age groups. BUT my oldest son especially (6) just craves the unstructured imaginative free play that happens with small groups of kids around his age.
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#2 of 11 Old 08-23-2014, 07:07 PM
 
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I used to organize some homeschool activities. I've stepped back from it a lot. I'm not sure I'd say that I regret the energy I put into those things in the past, but I definitely view our needs differently now and am quicker to set boundaries and limit my involvement. I can see that with a couple of exceptions the amount of energy I had to put into things in the past outweighed the benefit to my kids. If I'd put that energy into my own well-being and into better meeting my kids' needs at home and otherwise, we might have been farther ahead. I don't know.

Three of my four kids never really did find kids in the homeschool community that they jived with. They had homeschooled friends, socialized just fine in the group, but these were friends of convenience. Their true friendships eventually surfaced from within interest-based activities rather than homeschooling activities. One of my daughters did form a strong friendship within the homeschooling community, but their chemistry was obvious from the very beginning, and they actually met originally at a general community event. I organized homeschooling activities to give them play time together (and to give my other kids chances to form friendships), but I think simple play-dates would have worked just as well and been so much easier.

I think a certain amount of organizing can be a good thing if you have a kid who loves the experience and you enjoy doing the work. But I would caution you against accidentally becoming the person everyone else expects to organize everything, or always-and-forever assuming that organized homeschooling activities are the best way to get your child what he wants socially.

Miranda

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#3 of 11 Old 08-23-2014, 09:17 PM
 
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Well, here I am with my eldest just 5.5 yo and already I am burnt out from organizing homeschool/unschool happenings.
Go figure.
When my daughter was three-years-old and so many of her peers were heading to preschool, I put a lot of effort into organizing activities and events for us and other families who were on the homeschool path.
It was frustrating, to say the least.
I'm not someone who likes to feel obliged, but by agreeing to show up at the park/community centre/local farm/ice rink/community garden/beach at a specific time quickly started to feel like a burden and nuisance, particularly because people often said they'd come but wouldn't, or one of my kids (or myself) didn't feel like leaving the house, or folks who I didn't particularly like would show up.
Or there would be dynamics that were toxic, and as the 'leader' it fell to me to sort them out.
Not my cuppa.
People often said that they were interested, but I just didn't see it pan out, in continued attendance or quality of participation.
So, I've made a quiet decision to not be the point-person or organizer for anything that happens on a regular basis, but that I'll happily take names and money and a leadership role for one-off events, like a science workshop, telescope event, camping trips and the like.
As for the regular events/activities, I realized that I don't even LIKE regularly scheduled events, so clearly I should NOT be the one to take on the responsibility of organizing them.
I am, however, very supportive of people who are organizing regular events.
For example, we try our best to get to the weekly park meet-up, which is so valuable to recharging my energy and focus. I make a conscious effort to support the mama who organizes that, and take an active role in making sure that the group works.
Socializing is of zero concern to me, and so the only reason I have to go to such things is to build community, and so it has to feel good and be the right mix of people.
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#4 of 11 Old 08-23-2014, 09:53 PM
 
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I wish I could! I like being leader or co-leader for kid activities, and have been doing so for years--a weekly hike day, a weekly ski day in winter, sometimes aikido classes, other mostly outdoor-focused stuff. It's worked because my kids are little (3 and 5), and the preschool crowd has been a very easy target (only busy 4 mornings a week, cool families that want their kids doing stuff). You should have seen our 4yo skiers! But there really aren't enough homeschoolers here to organize anything for them specifically, and the older schooled kids just don't have the time unless their families are willing to give up weekends. You just can't take a 4-5 hour hike after school, or go skiing after school (too dark), etc... I think my kids'll be fine with the younger crowd for awhile yet, then I'll just have to be resigned to having their fun activities by themselves (and school friends for playdates when they can).
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#5 of 11 Old 08-24-2014, 06:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
If I'd put that energy into my own well-being and into better meeting my kids' needs at home and otherwise, we might have been farther ahead."

"l'd caution you against accidentally becoming the person everyone else expects to organize everything, or always-and-forever assuming that organized homeschooling activities are the best way to get your child what he wants socially."

Miranda

I'm at the point of questioning exactly what you said Miranda. Would we be better off if I spent more energy on our own at home needs? I've got to give this some thought.

And I think I already have become "that" person. Even though I tried to set it up so I wouldn't be the only organizer, it seems to have happened anyway. This next month we have a planning meeting and I plan to make it clear (to myself especially!!) that I am NOT doing that anymore. If the group activities fades away due to that then so be it.
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#6 of 11 Old 08-24-2014, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post
So, I've made a quiet decision to not be the point-person or organizer for anything that happens on a regular basis, but that I'll happily take names and money and a leadership role for one-off events, like a science workshop, telescope event, camping trips and the like.
This might be a good course for me as well. It's just hard because my son does like having frequent regular group playdates. But when nobody is showing up anyway it doesn't do much good.
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#7 of 11 Old 08-24-2014, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starling&diesel View Post
So, I've made a quiet decision to not be the point-person or organizer for anything that happens on a regular basis, but that I'll happily take names and money and a leadership role for one-off events, like a science workshop, telescope event, camping trips and the like.
As for the regular events/activities, I realized that I don't even LIKE regularly scheduled events, so clearly I should NOT be the one to take on the responsibility of organizing them.
This is how I feel too. I don't mind organizing a one time event (once in a while), but rarely will I run a regular thing. One exception is that I keep my middle dd's book club going. I am point person for that. However, it is small, the girls are really close, it is once a month--rotating houses, etc.

Amy
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#8 of 11 Old 08-25-2014, 10:06 PM
 
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I'll share my experience, I was drawn towards the homeschool community idea and became involved with a coop group that eventually fell apart and reformed with specific moms excluded (including me). The idea was to meet every 2 weeks, rotating moms ran the group but the burden of scheduling/back-up/planning fell on a couple of mom's. Mostly they were play-dates, shocking that 4yo just wanted to play and not sit around doing circle time/crafts. It was a lot of work and some hurt feelings when moms I thought I knew, bailed and never acknowledged their blatant rejection. On the positive side, I have become far more intentional about who I and my son's spend time with and in fact, much less concerned about the "community" aspect at this point. Instead I am focusing on playdates/activities with our compatible friends. I know there are successful groups but from what I have learned they are generally VERY structured with detailed responsibilities for every member and a clear conflict mediation process to deal with problems sooner than later.
I think many homeschool moms (I am very new at this and may be speaking only for myself...) tend to go overboard with planning/activities at first because we feel that we have to prove ourselves for making this very hard, outside of the mainstream choice.
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#9 of 11 Old 08-26-2014, 06:32 AM
 
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I'm not the main organizer of homeschooling activities in my area, but I'm immensely grateful to the person who has taken on that role. I think she's done something really valuable and I hope she doesn't come to regret it. Yesterday, as we drove to the homeschooling picnic this person organizes every year on the first day of school, my 11 year old daughter was talking about how much she loves being part of our little homeschooling community. What has made it a community and allowed the kids to get to know each other and enjoy spending time with each other has been people organizing events to bring groups of us together. I think what has been most valuable for the kids is the time they spend playing together. In my experience, group "educational" activities or field trips often aren't terribly educational, though there have been some exceptions. But people seem to be more motivated to bring their kids to educational activities than to get-togethers that are just for fun. So I think some organized activities that aren't just playing can be useful for that reason. (With our group, there often is some playing after the main activity.)

Here's what our local organizer has organized that has been really successful:
An annual first-day-of-school picnic where people can meet other homeschoolers, share activities and resources we know about, and swap or sell books and materials
A monthly Share Day where kids can get up in front of the group and show a project or tell about something interesting they've done (with play time afterwards)
Weekly beach days in the summer at a local lake
A couple of co-op sessions during the year where kids go once a week for 6 or 8 weeks for some kind of educational activity. Some of the teaching is done by parents and some by people we pay.

She had a list of email addresses she used to communicate with people and another parent realized it would be helpful to have a more formal email list, so he set one up for us on Yahoo. That's another thing that has been really helpful for our group.

Over the years, I've organized weekly play gatherings at a park, weekly ice skating time, and some hikes. I created a simple website for the group. This spring I volunteered to teach 6 science classes for our co-op. I don't feel like any of those things took too much of my time or weren't worth it in the long run. (Teaching the class was pretty time-consuming, but preparing for it was a really valuable learning experience for me and my kids. I think all the kids who were in it learned a lot, but my own kids were by far the biggest beneficiaries.)
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#10 of 11 Old 08-26-2014, 10:09 PM
 
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I don't really do much organizing because I'm awful at it, but I do try to seek out the people who do and offer to do some of the grunt work to take some of the load off. I'm a pretty good helper when given specific instructions.
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#11 of 11 Old 09-18-2014, 01:26 PM
 
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I think I might set up a "game day" at my local public library. I meant to do it before the school year began, but I never got around to it, and I may or may not still do this after the Jewish holidays are over.

If I do this at all, it's going to be once a month, for 2 or 3 hours. I'm not organizing something every single week. My primary goal is my own son's education, not co-ordinating things for the whole community. Jack has neighborhood friends, and we both enjoy a lot of "quiet time" at home. Plus we seem to do enough running around on the days Hannah is home.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19 (in Israel for another school year), Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 12(homeschooled)
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