Have you found a local homeschool park day in your community? If you are a new homeschooler, please consider putting it at the top of your list of things to do.
Park day groups come in all forms, and most are free. Some have formal activities and rules, and others are based on an informal agreement that anyone who wants to will show up at a particular park at an agreed upon time so that parents can talk and kids can play.
Some offer field trips and holiday party days or potlucks if there are members willing to organize them. Some may even organize group campouts, although camping with one of the State groups, CHN or HSC, is probably more common.
Not all groups advertise. The statement of faith groups often get new members through their church or by private invitation. But, there are hundreds of other groups that happily welcome new homeschoolers and parents with preschoolers who are interested in learning more about homeschooling. They’ll often state that they are inclusive so that you’ll know that everyone is welcome.
Groups come and go, change contact people (our kids grow up!), and even change how they communicate. Years ago, Yahoo was the most popular, and some groups also had websites. With the popularity of Facebook, some have moved there. That means you might find a broken link, an old email, or what appears to be an inactive group. Search online to see if you can find the group’s name and newest information.
Go next week if you can. The first time is the hardest, but do it anyway! If you are sitting next to someone who isn’t talking to you, introduce yourself. It might be her first day too!
Bring typical going-to-the-park things:
If you have teens, you might have to go several times. Teens tend to go when they know other teens will, so you may need to talk to some of the moms and try to arrange for all of the teens to show up on the same day!
If you have a great first day, that’s wonderful! If it wasn’t so great, please try a few more times. I’ve seen enough shy or introverted homeschoolers at park days over the years to know that the old timers might be just as nervous as the new visitor. Keep trying, and you’ll soon be friends!
The unexpected in your life can be messy, terrifying, tragic, distracting, time consuming, or joyous. It doesn’t matter the reason, it throws you off your plan. If your child is in school, life is expected to go on without even an acknowledgement of the stress your family is enduring (and remember even good news can be stressful!). The no excuses, zero tolerance, don’t mess with the school’s plan has led many a family to homeschooling.
If you are currently homeschooling, your kids will find other ways to learn if you can’t be there to guide a lesson because of your illness or need to be elsewhere. They’ll read, create, and imagine. They will be watching and learning how to prioritize the important things in life. They may even surprise you by what they are capable of doing when they see that you need help! And if your child is the one who needs care, what a comfort to know that his/her immediate needs are more important than a schoolish assignment.
Is a crisis a good time to enroll a child in school? That’s a common question from parents who are overwhelmed or feel guilty that they can’t do enough for their child. In most instances, it can be best for all to keep the family home together rather than add the additional stress of school. Your child won’t get behind and might even advance in unexpected ways when left to learn on his own!
Please remember not to feel guilty for what you can’t control. You’ll get through it as a family whether it’s a one week unexpected blip or many months.
In addition to reading a chapter book to your child, finding a park day, and baking a double batch of cookies or pizza (for some math fun), a great way to start your homeschooling year is by participating in a field trip with other homeschoolers! You’ll have both socialization and education worries checked off in a flash, and your children will also be off to a happy new school year!
Looking for field trip ideas?
Visit my Field Trip board at Pinterest. The Pinterest pages are updated regularly!
Tips for field trip harmony and success:
And finally, if for whatever reason you don’t love field trips, remember it’s just one idea that some families enjoy. Nothing is required when you homeschool, so do what works for your family!
This was originally published at UniversalPreschool.com’s blog in 2012, shortly before we dropped our son off at UC Berkeley and all too quickly said good-by. He was on his own, and our days of homeschooling him were over. Two years later, we watched him graduate with a degree in molecular and cell biology. It was one of the most exciting days in this homeschool mom’s life!
It seems like just yesterday that I was explaining to disapproving people that no, my son was not in preschool. They were pretty convinced that he wouldn’t be “ready,” whatever that meant.
Although he never went to pre-school (or K-12 either), he is about to graduate from community college and is preparing to transfer to a university. He’ll soon be moving out, and the last few months have been a time for me to reflect on his life and mine. Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about:
Do I have regrets? Sure! There are things I never got around to doing, and I wish I’d found the time. We’re all going to feel that way when our babies are ready to leave home! I didn’t wake up thinking, “Oh goodie, another glorious day with my three-year-old.” No, I’ll confess that I’d wake up early and tiptoe down the hall, in the hope of just a bit of time alone. He’d hear me and joyfully begin his day before I was ready!
At times he cried, got mad, and generally tried my patience. Some days seemed so long! Now I look back and think it was a good time in our lives, and so worth it.
The preschool years are challenging, but it gets easier, and the reward that comes from helping our children flourish is priceless. Take plenty of pictures, save a few treasures, and jot down some cute things they say so you can remember!
Someday I hope that you too will look back and say “No regrets. It was time well spent and worth the trouble.”
© 2010-2012 Cedar Life Academy