I am pretty luck that the area I live in is very homeschool friendly. There are not only lots of neat parks with programs that welcome all, there are also lots of programs available that are open to homeschooled kids. Since my children are still so young, it is my responsibility to find programs and activities that I think they might enjoy and sign them up to check it out.
We have found lots of neat local places this way, discovered new parks, met new friends, and discovered new areas of interest. We have also tried some things out and figured out that it was not for us for one reason or another. As the kids get older, and they can express to me what programs they want me to find, and tell me what ones they don’t even want to bother trying.
One thing I have been coming to realize is that there is a certain type of program that just does not work for us. These are the activities where there are timed activities, and when the time is up on one then they are finished with it and must move onto the next activity; often due to time constraints, a more structured facilitator, or the belief that there must be as many activities packed in as possible for the most “learning” opportunities.
I found a really neat sounding activity on our local metropark site. The program was supposed to be about Legos and Lego challenges. My kids have both recently discovered Legos, and we do not have many at home, so I thought it would be a lot of fun for us to check out. I didn’t realize until we were there that it was set up with strict time constraints on each challenge, and when that one challenge was over the children had to move on to the next. My kids were not particularly happy about this, but this was the program rule so we followed it and they chose to stay.
They both still had a good time and enjoyed completing each challenge to the best of their ability. They were glad that we tried it, but would have preferred to be able to continue finishing their creative vision of the project they were working on and skip the next challenge. They do not do well with forced stations. I am guessing public schooled children adapt better to activities set up in that way, since they are forced to go with a strict schedule on a daily basis. This just isn’t something my kids have a lot of experience with, nor do I find reason to give them that experience.
Sometimes they want to leave before a program is over when it is set up in that way. If that is the case, we leave. If they are not having fun, then neither am I. Sometimes the activity is set up in stations, but the facilitator is more relaxed and okay with some kids not following the group if it isn’t working best for them. Mostly, we try to just avoid programs set up in that way. I am getting better at deciphering the program descriptions to figure out if they are set up in a way that my kids will enjoy.
I am thankful to have found some really great places that are go with the flow. They have activities set up that kids can go at their own pace, or pick and choose what to do or skip. These places have facilitators that have understand children’s developmental capabilities. I have found groups of people that want the same environment for their kids, so that my kids have friends to go to these wonderful places with.
I am glad that most of the time I can let out activities be about the process and not the end result. We focus on fun and play. We allow creative visions to be completed and make time for curiosity.