Welcome to The Educating Parent Beverley Paine's archive of articles about homeschooling and unschooling written over a period of 30 plus years

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Starting Your Own Activity Group for Your Homeschooled Kids is Worth It!

© Esther Lacoba

If there is not a group that you feel suits, why don't you start one yourself?
Over the years I've seen some mums just run small regular get togethers -- advertising in SHEN for activities such as a cooking group with four to six similar age girls, or a sewing circle where they are taught a craft or other skill like knitting, card-making or scrap-booking.

These groups are also small enough to be run in your home. This helps to relieve any anxiety felt by your kids by being in a familiar and comfortable environment. If you're the one running it, then you call the shots, such as make sure there are no awkward moments and there are clearly defined activities keeping the kids busy at all times.

A readers' theatre that my girls loved was fantastic, with six to eight children reading through a play around a kitchen table. Each had their own part to create special voices for.

We've also been part of a book club where one parent sits down with the group in the lounge room and works through a series of basic discussion questions about a book they've all read at home. This can then be expanded upon to include watching the movie or TV series on DVD or an activity from the book. We made rag dolls from Little House on the Prairie and had a party where all the food was from the book.

If over time you have a nice tight little group, you could gradually expand it to using a room at a library or community centre to play chess or checkers. I've known of other groups who have studied specific subjects like medieval or Roman times. As well as one who studied China and had a program for each fortnight: for example, making a topographical map and painting it or making a replica of the Great Wall. I t is amazing where all these creative ideas come from.

The large drama group that our family attends in Sydney started off as a drama/choir group in 1999 or 2000 with about six or eight kids. It metamorphosed over the years, changed teachers and venues, and has been organised by different parents at different times to end up three classes of twenty kids each, plus two huge choir classes running in another hall at the same time. I would imagine something like this would be overwhelming for some. One of my daughters gets quite nervous about going but loves it so much she won't miss it.

My own belief is that not all kids will enjoy big groups like that and the more we can support our own with their individual needs, then the more secure they will feel as they grow up and out of their fears or anxiety, although sometimes I wonder whether my own will ever be outgoing enough to go up to a new child and try to make them feel comfortable -- I just believe that one day it will 'click' for them.

It's great in one sense that homeschooling groups have managed to get so big, but the only way they have kept going is because parents (who sometimes never dreamt they'd run such big concerns) have stepped up and given it a go. The other smaller groups I mentioned before have only been for short periods where there was a need which was filled for that time with great success.

The point I think I'm trying to make is don't sit back and wait for that ideal group to happen -- make it happen for yourself, it will be worth

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

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