PDA

View Full Version : Group questions



laundrycrisis
01-11-2011, 01:39 PM
If you are in a secular or inclusive group, I would like to ask a few questions. In my area, there are not very many secular/inclusive options. I am in a group with great people, and I believe it is much needed here. But in order to keep it going, we need to get more activities on the calendar.

First, if you are looking at a group, or joining one, exactly what type of activities are you hoping to find ? Are you wanting to sit and have coffee at someone's house while the kids entertain each other....are you looking for events built around a particular subject or hobby...pot luck lunches....art or crafts...tours....what would you be willing to go do with your kids as a new member of a group ?

Where do you meet, especially when the event is not some sort of field trip, and the weather does not allow for meeting outdoors, so parks are out ? Library, restaurant, bowling alley, people's homes ? If you are meeting in homes, does the size of the group become a problem ? How do you get people to become willing to host an event in their home, or to get over any reluctance to go to others' homes ? If the group is geographically spread out, do you have people from various "sectors" doing things together in their area, with fewer people driving from further away ? Or do you try to make all activities centrally located ? How long of a drive are people willing to make to participate in group activities ?

What types of activities do you plan ? How do you choose activities for a wide range of ages, or do you just make the activities age-group specific and offer events on different days for younger and older kids ? When an event is specific to one age group (older or younger), do you also set something up on the side for younger or older siblings that need to come along ? What are your group's most popular activities for older kids, younger kids, and all ages ?

Who plans things ? Does one person lead the group and plan most events, or is there a small leadership subgroup that does this, or does everyone chip in with planning ? If everyone is asked to contribute to planning, how do you get people to do it ?

Are most of the activities planned during the daytime of weekdays, or are many of them planned for evenings or weekends ?

When there are events already planned in the community, do you take advantage of them as a group ?

Do you feel your group is a good support system ? Is it a resource for friendship, understanding and problem solving ? Is it a good place to make real connections with other homeschoolers ? Or is it just a source of activities ?

If you can help answer any of these, I would very much appreciate it ! Thank you :D

farrarwilliams
01-11-2011, 02:50 PM
If you are in a secular or inclusive group, I would like to ask a few questions. In my area, there are not very many secular/inclusive options. I am in a group with great people, and I believe it is much needed here. But in order to keep it going, we need to get more activities on the calendar.

I'm the mod of a small secular/inclusive group in my area. Additionally, I'm part of a couple of small family (just four families in both cases) co-ops.


First, if you are looking at a group, or joining one, exactly what type of activities are you hoping to find ? Are you wanting to sit and have coffee at someone's house while the kids entertain each other....are you looking for events built around a particular subject or hobby...pot luck lunches....art or crafts...tours....what would you be willing to go do with your kids as a new member of a group ?

All those are good. :) I like field trips, park days, an occasional picnic or potluck and I'm never upset to be part of a group that has other things going on as well. I think at the heart of it, I want friends and community who will support me and my kids and build social connections for my kids.


Where do you meet, especially when the event is not some sort of field trip, and the weather does not allow for meeting outdoors, so parks are out ? Library, restaurant, bowling alley, people's homes ? If you are meeting in homes, does the size of the group become a problem ? How do you get people to become willing to host an event in their home, or to get over any reluctance to go to others' homes ? If the group is geographically spread out, do you have people from various "sectors" doing things together in their area, with fewer people driving from further away ? Or do you try to make all activities centrally located ? How long of a drive are people willing to make to participate in group activities ?

Totally depends on the activity, but we do often meet in homes, though this was more common with the preschool group I was part of when the kids were younger. The preschool group had as a part of its joining statement that most activities took place in peoples homes and that members were expected to participate. However, there were also activities in other places - parks, field trips - so there were occasionally opportunities to meet a couple people first, which I think was good for some people. Once people know people, I find they will usually open up their home. I know some people have a weird hesitation about going to others' homes, but if you want a free group and less hassles and less planning then homes is certainly a way to go. As for geography, this is a big issue in my group and the geographic center has shifted over time. There's no clear answer, though we certainly try to keep things centralish. I routinely drive about 20-30 mins for things. I'll go farther occasionally, though that's usually for an activity, not a person's home - like going apple picking might mean we go 45 mins or even an hour away, but we have to go 45 mins away to apple pick at all, it's nothing to do with where other group members live.


What types of activities do you plan ? How do you choose activities for a wide range of ages, or do you just make the activities age-group specific and offer events on different days for younger and older kids ? When an event is specific to one age group (older or younger), do you also set something up on the side for younger or older siblings that need to come along ? What are your group's most popular activities for older kids, younger kids, and all ages ?

Who plans things ? Does one person lead the group and plan most events, or is there a small leadership subgroup that does this, or does everyone chip in with planning ? If everyone is asked to contribute to planning, how do you get people to do it ?

I think there have to be a few people who plan things, but I think that can rise organically out of the group. But there have to be some people who actually put things on the calendar and do stuff because otherwise nothing happens. For the group that I mod I personally plan just a few things - a couple of all group picnics a year, a field trip here and there, and I'm currently running a production of The Tempest. There's a couple of other people who plan field trips sometimes. There's another person who runs an art group. And there has been a revolving slate of people who organized the park day, though now it's winter and we haven't had any for a little while. I think some people are driven to plan things and if you get a decent size group together, those people emerge.

The group I'm in is age specific (elementary school age), but siblings are welcome unless it's some sort of unusual situation - a class or field trip where the museum or outside people limited the age range or something like that. There are some people who seem to feel that all ages should be welcome at all time learning from each other... but I feel like it's good to have a core age group because otherwise you may have a group where they can't play freely very well (I think it would be a strain for a couple of toddlers, a 5 yo, a 9 yo and 16 yo to all find a common game, for example) or where any activity you may have planned is really challenged... it's no fun to bring your kid to something where they're by far the oldest or youngest (unless you knew in advance and chose it that way) because then the programming will be skewed away from their level.



Are most of the activities planned during the daytime of weekdays, or are many of them planned for evenings or weekends ?

Weekdays. But once or twice a year it's nice to do something at a time when you can meet the non-homeschooling parent or get together as whole families.


When there are events already planned in the community, do you take advantage of them as a group ?

Not really.


Do you feel your group is a good support system ? Is it a resource for friendship, understanding and problem solving ? Is it a good place to make real connections with other homeschoolers ? Or is it just a source of activities ?

If it's not a support system and a place for the grownups to find friendships and community, then I find that that activities are less well-attended anyway. To me, a group should be more than a way to get discounted group tickets or to be able to say that your kids socialized because they attended something with other kids. I mean, a group like that may be perfect for some people, but to me a good homeschool group should be a community.


If you can help answer any of these, I would very much appreciate it ! Thank you :D

The only other piece of advice I'll give is that I think it's important to listen to everyone in the group, work on making decisions through consensus, but at the same time be timely about decisions and make them when not everyone agrees. I have seen so many planned activities fall apart because the person spearheading it listened to people too much and in the end never made a decision. Similarly, I think people who simply say, "we're doing THIS" and don't listen to input don't always get the most cohesive groups (or sometimes much of a group at all). So it's all about walking a line.

Good luck!

mommykicksbutt
01-11-2011, 03:38 PM
The group that I belong to meets at the local community center for a pot luck (we pick a theme for the food). Usually not too many teens join in and most stay at home but lots of little kids. The community center has a park and play equipment as well as a kitchen which makes this location ideal. We try to have a topic or a guest.

We invited the military police dogs (and their handlers) for one visit. Everyone love the demo and we learned so much. Of course they were invited for lunch too.

When we have just topic discussions and no guests, the kids play outside with the older kids (teens) supervising, if no teens then one of the parents volunteers while to meeting is happening. Our topics vary depending upon the interest of those attending (pre-determined via a prior meeting's input - more later on this) and the "experts" that are within the group to share their knowledge. Whether it be about transcripts, college applications, SATs, and CLEP for high schoolers or beginning phonics, counting and sorting, and patterns for pre-K & K, or anything in between.

We also have field trips but those are really very lose, someone will have knowledge of a free event (puppeteering at the park, free admission to museum, a local cultural event, free community center trip to nearby sight-seeing location, youth theater production, etc.) Those that are interested will go, those that go will meet up if they wish with the others (or not). We've learned that different people keep different schedules and everyone kind of does their own thing.

We have officers that we elect: President and secretary. That's it. The secretary takes the notes and emails them to everyone. The president keeps the calendar and emails everyone of the potluck meeting. At the prior meetings we pick the food theme (finger foods, Mexican, vegan, etc). The pres will delegate (ask for volunteers) when things come up, like updating and emailing the roster.

Bottom line is ask the individuals what they need and what they want and how the group can help them. Notice I said ask individuals not ask the group. This is best done on paper or email. We've found that there was a lot more feedback from individuals when asked vice when the question was thrown out to the group as a whole.

Mrs. Weasley's Wand
01-11-2011, 04:41 PM
I've been part of the same co-op for about 18 months. We meet weekly during the same time on the same day. We take turns hosting at our own homes and that limits you to between 4 and 6 families. But, we live in NH - a group that had good weather all year long could probably deal with more children since they could be outside the whole year. The majority of our kids were between 4 and 6 when we started. We plan about once a month in an adult only meeting where we decide which topics we will cover, the rotation of homes, and work out any procedural stuff. We tend to stick with topics for 3 to 5 weeks at a time. There is time for playing, the lesson, snack, and the moms to talk amongst themselves at each co-op. Because of our locations everyone is driving at least 20 minutes between houses with 40 minutes being the longest distance depending on the rotation. New members, when we need them, need to agree to these plans and be ok with meeting in homes with pets and with hosting. I personally like the set day and time very, very much. I think it strengthens the group's commitment. We also schedule family potlucks quarterly and have some kind of science fair or other family friendly event a couple times a year where possible.

We do also use each other for support regarding suggestions for curricula, problem solving, sharing resources, and the like.

farrarwilliams
01-11-2011, 05:52 PM
We meet weekly during the same time on the same day. We take turns hosting at our own homes and that limits you to between 4 and 6 families.

I think this sort of depends. The preschool homeschool group I was a part of has about 30-40 families. They run two set weekly playgroups in peoples' homes. But it's very rare for more than 6-8 families to show up and common for it to be more like 3-5 families. Part of that is geography (the group is split between a north and south contingent) but much of it is just group dynamics. So I don't think it's necessarily a limiting factor. Of course, some groups are more lax and have larger memberships. Others are small and its expected that you'll be there. We're in both kinds of groups and to me that's the first, most basic question about a homeschool group.

dottieanna29
01-11-2011, 05:57 PM
Inclusive groups are actually the majority where I am. I belong to a few local Yahoo groups and a meet-up group. There are ocassional get-togethers at peoples houses with a theme (a movie day, Nintendo DS day, WII day), a few parties (Halloween, Christmas) and field trips to local activities (slot car racing, rock climbing, science museum, aquarium). We do a monthly math-themed meeting at a local library and there's a game day at Panera for older kids. A lot of it is information about homeschooling classes that are offered in the area (so not exclusive to our groups). Our area has a lot of this kind of thing - homeschool bowling league, homeschool gymnastics classes, art classes at a local museum, nature walks at local county or state parks, etc. There's also a SOTW group for older kids but no other co-op type classes.

A lot of the activities (both outside ones and group arranged ones) are age specific but some can be for any age. I like activities where it is easy to keep track of my two young children so enclosed places are good. I don't do outside in the middle of winter and I currently can't have people over my house (extremely small). There's only one member of my groups that regularly hosts something at her house, everything else tends to be public places.

When I belonged to MOMS Club we did a lot more at people's houses but I think because we had regular business meetings at a neutral place people got to know each other and were more comfortable with the idea. There are only a few people I've gotten to know well from my homeschool groups and a few of them are from our homeschool gymnastics which I actually found before joining the group. The events I've gone to so far I haven't found much socializing among the parents beyond "hello, how you doing today?" (but that could just be me - I'm kind of an introvert). Even ones where the parents chat (like our Library math meeting) there is very little discussion about the specifics of homeschooling, possibly because most of us have young children and, being in a very very easy to homeschool state, a lot lean toward unschooling. I get a lot more support and information on specific homeschooling issues from the online groups and forums I belong to.

Sam
01-11-2011, 09:37 PM
I honestly have no idea what kind of group I'm in. I know there's religious people there, but while I will overhear discussions about a bible-bases curriculum, it's not something that is shouted from the rooftops to everyone in the group. My group meets every other Friday at an indoor soccer dome for a fun soccer game and some random kiddie games. We've also done some other get togethers (a trip to the local power dam and to a bowling alley). And every few mths we have a moms' meeting with no kids to discuss ideas/curriculum and the like.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
01-11-2011, 10:04 PM
We are new to homeschooling and haven't attended many of events yet, but our local group does monthly potlucks, weekly park days in summer (one for all ages, and one specifically for the younger set), weekly board games at the library's community room and meet-ups at the science museum in the winter. They have a "Not Back to School" picnic at a pond in September and a homeschooling fair in November. Those seem to be the regular events. It is a yahoo group with about 200 families (but spread out over many towns, so the weekly events don't get nearly that many people). People announce other events, such as classes, concerts, etc. via email to the group. There is a calandar on their yahoo groups homepage, but I'm not sure how much it is used.

Miguels mommy
01-11-2011, 11:54 PM
I'm part of a home school group that's inclusive but we're the only atheists. I like it a lot but wish I could attend more things. Each of these are in different locations w/ in 30 min within our city. I'm attempting to answer all your by showing you our home-school group schedule.
1x a week band Tuesdays 2-3 pm
2x a month co-op use to meet at 4H building (now in a church, long story) Every other Tuesday 10-2 (15 families)
1x a month:
Project day (library),1st Friday 12-?? bring snacks
skating, 3rd Thursday 1-3 bring snack $4
mom's night out (dinner, art studio or other spot) 2nd Thursday 6-9
field trip, Whenever age based
theater, Thursday when there's a play (community event) based on age requirements $3 per person
bowling $5 whenever
4x a year dance (4 H camp) $5 per person $20 per family
2x a year end of the year picnicking
1x a year home-school Curriculum fair
Co-op sign ups are 2x a year. Anyone can go to the other stuff no sign up required.

Things I would like to see:
Graduation ceremonies
Free play
Everyone helping out


Do you feel your group is a good support system? We're still the odd ball out not boxed curriculum, liberal, secular, and too young most parents also have kids our age. We get along better with the teens then the adults.
Is it a resource for friendship, understanding and problem solving? not for us. Is it a good place to make real connections with other homeschoolers? for our son Or is it just a source of activities ? yes and no

MamaTea
01-12-2011, 06:14 AM
A friend and I run a small secular HS group. We are pretty rural where we meet and so in the winter - if the weather allows us to travel at all ;) - we have a room at a community center rented every other week. We will get together for something else on the opposite weeks if we can find something to do (bowling, sledding, etc) but in the winter in the area we live in, we are pretty strapped for "things to do" without having half our group driving (what they might think is an) excessive amount of miles. In the spring/summer/fall we meet at a few different centrally located parks.

Regardless of how many members our group officially has, there is a core group of families (5-6 families, children spanning age 0-12) who are very committed to coming. As far as what we do at our get togethers, it is VERY laid back. Generally everyone brings board games or things they want to do (little art projects or whatever) and we have two hours together to do *whatever*together. We have found this works out extremely well for the people who are involved. Our purpose is socialization and making friendships - that's all.

One thing I would caution you on, if starting a group, is to know what your "mission" is and make it clear. My friend and I started this group with the intention that it would be a laid back group and refused to let anyone turn it into anything other than that. Both she and I have been part of homeschool groups that were supposed to be one thing, and then one or several members morphed it into something completely different. For instance, we've both been part of groups that were supposed to be "social groups" and turned into something way more like structured co-ops after a few months. Example: a group that got together for a couple hours to hang out with other homeschoolers suddenly became a place where people were all learning Spanish or Sign Language together. (Fabulous idea, if you want to, but not if that wasn't what you were looking for in a group.) Another example: A group that did everything locally (within 20 miles from the central members of the group) and suddenly seemed to morph into "let's see just how far away (and expensive!) we can plan a weekly field trip and still have our members attend - and if they don't, we will tell them they can't be in the group anymore!" You need to be clear on what your groups purpose is, especially if you're in an area that is lacking a lot of HS groups - we have found there always seems to be people who will come in and try to take over the group, making it the perfect group *they* have been searching for, but not completely what you intended it to be. :)

Busygoddess
01-12-2011, 06:59 AM
I agree with MamaTea about knowing what you want the group to be & sticking to it. The only local group I'm part of is a Yahoo group. We've tried to get together, but it never happens. Nothing can be agreed upon. Not the time of day, day of the week, location, free or paid, social & fun or co-op, nothing. We've pretty much given up trying to set up anything because either there isn't enough interest, there's interest but nobody can make it on the same day, or a bunch of people say they'll be there & then almost everyone cancels at the last minute. All the other local groups are either religious or co-ops, which isn't what I'm looking for. That's why I joined the one I did. It was a new group & everyone was talking about setting up regular park days and play dates, so I figured it would be a good social outlet for the kids. I've been part of the group for 6 years & have only met maybe 3 other moms from the group.

Since you're talking about a group that has already been established, I would suggest having a meeting. Find out what the current members want from the group. Ask everyone for their ideas & opinions about the types of activities, time/day of get-togethers, level of structure, location, etc. See what is wanted by the people already in the group & base decisions on that.

laundrycrisis
01-12-2011, 08:39 AM
I really appreciate all the input I am getting here...thank you all !!