Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Educational Facilitator

I have had previous posts about socialization.  My children are as social now as they were when they were in school - more so in most ways.  There is one big difference that no matter how hard I try, I cannot duplicate in a home setting; being surrounded by at least twenty other children while you are learning.  For me and my youngest, that is just fine!  We do not need lots of other people around us.  In fact, being around lots of people drains us of our energy, leaving the need for privacy and down time to recharge and refuel.  Not so for my oldest who absorbs the energy of others and loves to be with other people most of the time.
In order for our experience to be successful we need to make time for play.  My calendar is always open and it is always full.  I try to schedule playtime after lunch as our most productive time of day is the morning.  Our best learning usually takes place over breakfast!  Monday we had a playdate from two o’clock that extended into a dinner date and lasted until eight o’clock!  Tuesday we met with friends before pottery class to begin a study of our town together.  Once a week we will meet at a landmark, learn about it, color it and take a picture of us there.  After pottery and piano we were able to play with these same friends for a few hours before dinner.  Today we have a playdate with friends.  It is our first time to their house and the girls are very excited.  
We have been blessed with the ease of meeting other families in our area who homeschool.  Not only have I met wonderful women, my girls have become steadfast friends with their daughters (and sons).  The issue I am having is that only one of the girls in our core group of friends is the same age as Grace.  She has been expressing the need to find other girls and boys her age or older.
I am so grateful that just as Grace was expressing this need, the girl we are meeting today invited her to join her book club.  It is a very unique book club as it is run entirely by the children.  They meet in the children’s department of a local library.  They discuss the two books they selected and then all roam through the stacks pulling possible new choices, debating the merits of their choices and settling on two to read and adding others to the wait list.  
Theresa, at Our Life in Words had a similar situation with one of her daughters.  She organized a play date for “tweens” which was very successful.  I have done the same.  Next week we will be meeting at the beach for a playdate for 10 to 11 year-olds and their siblings.  I have not had a great response.  In fact, only one family is coming for sure.  That is okay, we are still excited.  This family has two girls age 11 and 7 and they just relocated to our area.  
I suggested that Grace get in touch with some of her school friends.  Since we live is such a close knit neighborhood and many of her friends are now able to walk freely through it, she should be inviting her basketball teammates over to shoot hoops in the street, bike or walk the dogs.  
With a great deal of effort, planning, rescheduling, and modifying plans, we will meet her need to be around more people her age.  As she goes into her teen years, it will be important for her to have a group to go to the movies with or out for pizza.  I realize that my daughter’s needs are different.  Now as their mother and their educational facilitator (I like that term....maybe I can use that on my resume when I someday return to work....) I need to satisfy their needs not only for learning, but for making meaningful lasting relationships.  
Whew..  Being an educational facilitator sure is a lot of work.  Good thing it is worth every minute of effort.


karisma said...

I am feeling inadequate in this dept for my older boy as we don't have kids his age in our home school group. We are pretty isolated as homeschoolers due to our location and me not driving. When we first started out homeschooling I made far more effort to keep the kids involved in activities out of the house. I think the fact we over did it the first year made me tone it down a lot. Now I am currently plotting ways to get him out and about. His passion of playing online games with his distant friends and skyping is not really to my liking. Its nearly 10.30pm and he is still at it. I could be mean and make him get off but his friends are all over the world and its not their bedtime. The world really is a small place these days.

Tween groups sound wonderful. There is a highschool group down the coast from us but its too far to travel regularly. I sometimes wish we lived closer to the bigger groups but then again, if I am honest I would move further into the country. I do plan to do that once the kids are older and I only have to worry about my own social life. LOL.

It sounds like you have some good plans in place and your girls sure look happy. Hugs xoxox

mouster said...

i was going to email you today about siblings.. chloe will be 11 in dec...

Jessica said...

@ Karisma, It is funny because if I had my way right now I would either move closer to NYC which would allow us to see my husband more or into a rural location which would make access to our friends more difficult!

@ Micki - I just emailed you. PLEASE COME! I think Monica and the girls are coming also. I love that we are all so willing to help out meeting the needs of each other's children! It is amazing.

Karen said...

I so wish we lived close enough for our girls to hang out. I find we have a somewhat similar problem. Kei has 4 other girls who she spends tons of time with, but she is the youngest of the group. The older they all get, the more of an issue this will be. She does have her best friend from K that she still spends huge amounts of time with. I hope that will continue. The one thing I like about this situation is that while, yes, it may be harder to find girls the right age, you have more control over 'which' girls. You know what I mean? I would take quality over quantity EVERY time. :)

mamak said...

Balancing different kids needs is hard! It does work out but I find it requires a lot of effort and often if you want it, you need to set it up, host it and the like. Not always, but mostly. Of all of the women I know, you can pull it off. I think in the homeschool world, things go at a slower pace, so it does take time to find your tribe. But when you do, you can't remember a time with out them. I am sure it will be like that for Grace. I think reconnecting with the neighborhood kids sounds like an excellent idea as well!

H-Mama said...

our dynamic is the same here... only it's my youngest who needs people around {like my hubs}. the oldest and i would be content reading on a beach somewhere. ;)

Jessica said...

@ Kim - it is working. I hope I did not sound like it is working. I think that since Lilah came home first Grace sometimes sees it as hanging with her sister's friends even though she and Kaya can spend hours in play and never think that there is an age difference. I think it is also a residual school-thing. That sometimes she misses the camaraderie that can be found in a classroom..... She will be fine, it has just been weighing a bit heavy on my shoulders.

@Karen - I know that we will meet up someplace, sometime and our girls will meet and love each other!

@H-Mama - you are just like me! I often have a hard time relating the the need for constant engagement but I am trying!

Tracy said...

It seems I struggle too with trying to get my oldest daughter around more girls her age so I can relate to your post. Your girls are beautiful, great picture of all 3 of you! Happy Mother's Day and thank you for joining NOBH and grabbing our button on your post :)

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