We are lucky to live in one of the best places in the country to home educate – there is a huge and varied population of home educators, including more than a handful of mamas from Country A. We have home education classes/groups/social meet ups available every day of the week, with everything from drumming to rock climbing to ….well, anything you can imagine. If it doesn’t exist, you can create it. We also have regular family meets on weekends throughout the year, a large not back to school picnic in September, and lots of other stuff going on.
Now, we have avoided the trip circuit as I felt the kids were a bit young, but now they are a great age. We went on our first trip yesterday. These are basically the equivalent of a school group having a field trip, and yesterday we visited a working farm. We were so not what those farmers expected.
Our children were not all one age. There were kids there from babies through to teenagers. Our ‘uniform’ was whatever individuals were comfortable in. We didn’t stay in strict groups and keep quiet.
The bit that made me laugh was the opening tour. None of our children are trained into staying in a neat, orderly group. As individuals and families, we are all very used to doing our own thing. So while some people stayed right with the farmer, a few children would be looking at nearby stuff. Whenever we moved locations, our group strung out into a huge, rambling, evolving thing, as children asked questions of each other, the adults, and the farmers. It was fantastic. A day that really reinforced our decision to home educate.
And we get to have every day like this, if we want, not just once or twice in the year. That’s awe inspiring to me. We can do what we want….whether hours of play at home, or out exploring the world. That is empowering.
On a side note, we met our first real live person who appears to replicate school at home. Of the hundreds of people I’ve met, no one uses a curriculum or makes their kids sit round the table for formal lessons. This seems a more common approach in Country A, where this lady was from. It was interesting to chat with her….albeit while Snort was covered in blood from a trampolining incident!
These trips will further open up our world. Because most home ed families are fairly autonomous, they give us a chance to meet people we might not otherwise know. An interesting thing is the influx of three and four year olds who would be starting school next September – people new to the idea of home educating, and lots of new potential friends for the kids. Coco made a particular friend of a four year old boy who apparently liked being bossed around, and they stuck together like glue all day. Snort played with older boys, got upset with them, and the six year old ringleader came over to sort it out with him, so he and Snort ended up playing together for a long time.
The flexibility of ages, interests, and abilities means that getting together with large groups of home ed families is always enjoyable. Even when your kid is bleeding everywhere – the immediate concern and support of other parents and children was awesome. It’s a group of people who are ultimately very accepting, and we are a collection of individuals accepted and celebrated for our quirks and joys. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Next week, assuming chicken pox doesn’t hit us up, we have our second trip ….to a fire station! TMD is so excited for the pottery class in the morning and the fire station in the afternoon she’s taken the day off work! I really hope we make it, but suspect the pox are on the way. Soon.