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VenerableVixen
04-05-2012, 11:17 AM
I joined my local homeschool support organization in the hopes of gaining support for myself and activities for my son. It is inclusive but most members I have encountered are quite open with their religious viewpoints. They also have older children. When I joined last June, I was told they had a huge influx of members so I was hopeful that we could connect with younger kids. That is just not happening. There has been one youth activity in the last 5 months. It was for Christmas crafts and only the youth activities family and the host family were there (oh, and me!) Where are all the other kids? I checked the family roster and we have approximately 40 children 11 and younger.

I have not been satisfied with the organization and had been toying with the idea of starting my own group but I am just not that kind of person. Let's face it: I have been here for months and still have single digit posts! :)

Well, opportunity is knocking loudly and I am scared to answer!! The homeschool group is now looking for a volunteer to organize youth activities. "To plan occasional activities to be held in member homes for kids 11 and younger." Only a few problems that I can see:

I am atheist.
I don't like people in my home.
I am not crafty.
I have never in my life been in charge of anything! I do feel as if I have above average organizational and planning skills, though.

But!... I hope I can change what they expect of youth activities. I would like to see something planned once a week. Maybe an art/craft project one week, a park picnic the next, a science project or other educational type activity, and just an informal get together the next week.

I want to do this but I can easily talk myself out of it! I am a lurker here so y'all don't know me but I feel as if this community has a lot of great people in it and I value your experience, advice, and input. I'd like to hear from anyone who has undertaken something like this so I can learn what to expect. I would also appreciate any other ideas for activities. Also, if anyone out there wants to talk me off the ledge... ;)

MrsLOLcat
04-05-2012, 12:01 PM
I ran a mom's group for a couple of years when my kids were younger, and I think you are right... opportunity is knocking! Here are some things I can throw out there:
1. Just because you start this doesn't mean you have to run it forever. When the group gets up and going, there will be someone to step in and help fill your shoes if you get burned out.
2. Pinterest. Crafty and science experiment ideas ad nauseum.
3. Do NOT think that you will be able to accommodate everyone. People WILL back out at the last second, and you WILL get the parents who continually gripe that you 'never' schedule anything when they can attend. Ignore them. You will have to have a thick skin about it. Schedule things that you and your kids and some of the regular folks can attend, go to them, and spread the word. People will realize that you're not stopping, and they will come.
4. Enlist the other folks to open up their homes. You might have to do it at your place a few times initially, but others will volunteer. Some people prefer to have people over rather than go to someone else's house. I don't know how big of an area you're in, but change up what part of town you're in so that everyone feels like there's something close by if you need to. There's nothing more annoying than having to drive 30 minutes to every single event when there's a perfectly good park 10 minutes away.
5. Be flexible. If you plan something for 12-2 but nobody can show up till 12:30, change the time. Most of the time 30 minutes won't be a big deal.
6. Work out a per-kid craft/experiment fee for each month and get all the materials yourself. I love it when everyone brings something, because it is easier and can be cheaper, but honestly, the parent who has the crucial ingredient will almost always bail at the last second, usually for extremely legitimate reasons. Plus, if everyone has to pony up $5/kid/month, they're more likely to actually attend.

Just my two cents. Hope this helps and you guys have a lot of fun!

Karenwith4
04-05-2012, 12:07 PM
That sounds like a lot to take on to plan something every week, particularly if you need to be there to run it. Is there an option to plan with someone or would it be your role just to coordinate getting others to contribute? In either case I might start with biweekly activity with the option of filling in with parkdates and hikes as filler/backups if the group wants to go to weekly. I would also suggest setting up a roster of people who can lead the craft or science project while you coordinate time/place/sign-up.
I have organized a lot in the past and to be honest I find it draining and my kids found it overwhelming to always have me be essentially unavailable to them during those events.


In terms of location, I would not want to host this sort of thing in my home. Do you have any community space available? Or can you plan say 1/4 of the events to be field trips. You could do many of these for free to local community services and local businesses (city hall, newspaper or radio station, hospital, factory or artisan tour) or see if you could do a library program just for homeschoolers (book club, movie and discussion, young writers group).

I think it is great that you want to volunteer. But I would be careful about biting off more than you can chew. Organizing a weekly event for 8 or 10 months is a huge job.

Karen

VenerableVixen
04-05-2012, 12:56 PM
Great input! Thank you so much.
MrsLOLcat- super tips! I would hope others would eventually offer up their homes. Luckily, the weather is about to turn perfect for park visits. Pinterest is cool! I will have to check that out when I have a couple hours to spare. I am not sure if I will have an allowance or if I am on my own to come up with money but working out a monthly cost beforehand seems prudent. The support group has an annual fee that includes field trips but I am not sure if any is tagged for this sort of thing.

Karenwith4- Ahh, the voice of reason! I am a very private person who craves my own personal time. But, I have a lot of time and a very outgoing, social child. What's a girl to do? And yes, weekly meetings are a bit much right off the giddyup. Thanks for reigning me in. Ok, biweekly! :) I know our local library is homeschool friendly and they have meeting rooms. And there's always parks! Getting others to coordinate is a great idea. See, the support group says it's a support group but I would like to see it morph into more of a co op. There seems to be a lot of people registered but no input from us. Yes, I would like to see a coordinated effort!

Thanks again, ladies