We are blessed to live in a state with fair homeschooling laws and in a community with vibrant homeschooling options. There are lots of possibilities for us. Sometimes there are so many possibilities that its hard to maintain our commitment to be home schoolers. We could be out doing, doing, doing all the time.
The favorite homeschool component of Brother-Bug’s week is our Science Club. It’s a collaborative group of families and the organization has been working so well I’m inspired to share our group structure with you.
There are lots of ways homeschoolers go about meeting curriculum needs. There are homeschool co-ops, private tutors, group classes…
Our Science Club rose out of a desire for a mix of those. Something a little formal to keep us doing science consistently. Something a little social because group socializing has been a challenge for Brother-Bug – not something he is naturally drawn to but instead a skill to learn.
We are 4-5 core families, with 2-3 drop-in families who make it when they can. We gather for about two hours once a week. Each family signs up for some turns on the schedule.
When it’s my turn, I have a simple, early Elementary level experiment for the kids to do. The experiment usually takes about a half hour or 45 minutes. We gather, the kids play a little, we experiment, they play some more.
Next week, on to a different house where that hosting family takes a turn offering an experiment.
There are a couple of core reasons this group is flowing so well.
- The kids generally get along together. Once all the siblings are present (as homeschool siblings often are) they range in age from 3-9. There are many of them and in general they play with few incidents. They genuinely like each other.
- The parents (usually all moms) genuinely like each other also. Some weeks there is more mom-social-time than actual science. The kids run amok as we swap ideas, strategies, and friendship. Since I spend a lot of my time with my Little-Bugs AND a lot of time thinking about their education, this time of adult socialization and discussion about homeschooling is an important part of my week and well-being.
- We all have similar homeschool styles. Some folks “do school” in a very formal way, some are into pure un-schooling, some do a mix, some use worksheets, some use lapbooks…so many ways to do this homeschool thing! As it happened, everyone in our group is on approximately the same semi-formal concept. “Let’s do an experiment, see what we get out of it and where it goes, and have a lot of fun. And they’re going to learn, no matter what.” No one is pushing for getting science done, no one is protesting the low-level organization. All of us are having a ball learning with our kids and watching their friendships and scientific adventures evolve.
Because we take turns hosting, no single person is trying to get their house clean and prepare an experiment every week, and we are saving the money we would otherwise spend on a science teacher! We all have different interests, strengths, and backgrounds, so our different projects really vary and we have the combined ability to answer a lot of questions. Last year we made chalk, dissected a daffodil, made our own biospheres, played in creeks, explored magnetism…
Last year was our first trial of this group. We kept it very informal, letting the kids play and get messy and explore. They were mostly K-2nd grade (ish). Now a year later, they have some science experience under their belts. We have introduced a field notebook for their weekly experiments, questions, and observations. They are all delighted to be back in the swirl of their beautiful group of friends.
We did science because… I forget why now. Because that’s what we did. But you could tailor this model to art, writing, history… whatever. It’s the power of the flexible homeschooling community that makes educational magic happen.