Once a term our local homeschool group gets together for a Mums’ Meeting. This is different from our monthly co-op meetings where the kids learn something together; the Network meetings are for Mums to learn something.
Whenever we get together we try and keep in our mind that we are first and foremost a group of mums supporting each other, but because of the size of the group we do try and work to a time frame. But if someone is running late, we may wait for them, if someone is having a bad day we may cancel all plans and just be a friend!
For the Network meetings we divide the children into mixed ages team, with an older child as the team leader. During the week prior these older kids are to think of and prepare an activity that will last for 20min, with a mixed age from 4-7. Each leader brings a game/activity which they have to then explain to the other leaders. Each group will do each activity during the course of the morning. Their brief is that they are to look after the younger kids as well as they can, giving the mums a morning where they can talk and be encouraged.
This works so well. The older kids have learnt about choosing appropriate activities that will meet their objective (rather than choosing things that they personally would like to do), they have learnt to lead and all the associated people skills that come along. I was particularly impressed with Josh this time round as he had a 4yo who kept coming back to Mum, and though that was fine, because of Joshua’s heart to relieve that mum, he kept coming back at the change of every activity and asked the 4yo if he wanted to join in again, which he did every time. Josh handled the situation with sensitivity and enthusiasm – just the right touch!
People arrive at 8.00 – we start at 8.30. That ½ hour is for greeting each other, and for setting up the activities. Often a mum reads the younger kids a story or two during this time. Then we divide the kids into their teams, hand over “authority” to the team leaders and send the kids on their way to a fun morning. The mums then head inside for a cuppa and sit down to our meeting.
This time we had an old friend back in town – their family has been traveling Australia and she shared with us not only their travels but their travels as a homeschool mum. There was lots we can learn from her experiences even as we stay put in one town.