finding the boy a posse

We have, more or less, decided to homeschool Owen at least for the early school years, unless we stumble on an awesome alternative, our local public school turns out to be perfect, or any number of other options.

If Owen were an introvert, it would be an easier decision, but he’s an extravert. Locals who homeschool point out that I have to “not be afraid to drive,” and that we have lots of park days available (yeah, more or less) but still, keeping him out with other kids is going to be a lot of work. The teaching, or facilitating learning, will be easy. I mentioned today in an online discussion that he has a hard time at park days where most of the children are 8+, as he feels left out (understandably, and I don’t expect olders to include him) and someone told me that kids his age are better off forming warm relationships with adults.

We’ve done that. He’s got his adult peeps. But I know my kid. I’ve seen him with welcoming kids of his own age (ideally, for him, 4-6ish), and with his bestest friends he glows, he thrives. And I’ve taught kids his age in group settings. Some kids are probably best off with mostly adults, but some seem to need at least a few hours a week in community with kids near their own age.

The problem with modern public school is that’s a false community, artificial socialization, 25 kids and one harried teacher with little time to just kick back and know each other. There’s always the next directed activity, or sit and listen, or rush through lunch to get any time at all running around at all. Yes, kids need socialization, but not *that*. They need time, and just hanging out.

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When I was a kid, we had kindergarten 3 1/2 hours a day, and that involved a lot of recess and play dough, hanging out with friends, even a nap period. Those are the olden days, and that classroom experience is gone.

So: I’ve got this bright, extraverted, “spirited” child, and all the Exploratorium memberships and random playground visits in the world won’t get him a posse. A very good, unschooly nursery school might, and I’d love to send him part time to one, but the two that first come to mind are on the peninsula, and up in Berkeley/Oakland, and then we come back to how much I’m willing to drive. Preschool schedules involve rush hour driving at one end or the other, and carschooling has its place, I really can’t physically manage that much driving. I don’t like it, it’s bad for the environment, it hurts my body.

Currently my workable ideas are:

  • If we can find someone local who’s free on weekdays, gets along great with O, and would love our quantity of materials and kid-friendly space, I can host a playdate.
  • Join the most likely of our local park-day organizing groups and go to the park days that work out for us. (I don’t like having enforced schedules unnecessarily, so we join lots of park day and similar groups and go as often as works for us.)
  • Getting involved with a UU congregation — there are four within a reasonable distance, two of those have strong children’s programs — and letting a couple of hours of his week be part of that community, which could last him for years.

Those seem good, all of them. Also, they make me tired to think of. But it’s what I’m signing up for, and I prefer it, for O, to having him in what modern public elementary school has become in California.

And then there’s moving to Baltimore, which has a homeschool community center that I truly covet. But that might be the least likely option, short of having him join a four-square church youth group.

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4 thoughts on “finding the boy a posse

  1. This may not work for you AT ALL, but have you looked into local MOMs clubs? http://www.momsclub.org/ We have been part of one here in Oklahoma and have had a standing playdate hosted weekly at either parks or homes EVERY week for around 3 years. It is truly wonderful. Sure, some folks have come & gone …and sure there are weeks kids are sick or whatever, but my 6 year old has made some very close friends & my 2 year old (who is SPD and difficult) really comes out of her shell around the regular friends.

    Here in Oklahoma, WE are the odd ones because we don’t go to church, but we’ve found a really nice circle of folks for our kids. I hope you can, too!!

  2. Due to the craziness that is the SF Kindergarten lottery, in addition the fact that they won’t let my kids start schooling before they are 5 (and they will be so ready by then), I will likely homeschool for at least the first few years.

    I’ve also had a bit of a time maintaining a “posse”: I’m in regular contact with only one of the library moms that I met during the twins’ first year. However, I do attend playgrounds and library storytimes and a child observation class that puts my kids in contact with other kids, and at least if we’re going at the same times regularly, they do see the same kids at least once a week, even if the parents don’t want to interact outside of that structure.

    I would be more than happy to drive or BART with the twins to see you and Owen for a playdate regularly, if it turns out they get along. In addition, we have a third car seat that we can install to drive you and Owen places, so you don’t have to drive, if we decide to go to an attraction or something. I also have memberships to the Exploratorium, the Academy of Sciences, and the SF Zoo, if you would like to meet up there sometime.

    1. The damned lottery thing is a major reason I want to homeschool, or one of a few big ones. We have friends who moved here a couple of years ago and are on their third school, because when they changed neighborhoods shortly after they arrived here, the district told them there was room in their new neighborhood school, so they transferred out of their old one, but after a handful of weeks the district decided there wasn’t room, but they couldn’t get back into their old neighborhood school, and instead are bussed (for a fee) across town to school #3. That, combined with a handful of other reasons, drove them into homeschooling.

      I’d love to get together with you and the kids some time but I’m feeling really gimpy lately. Going to SF is hard, I don’t go *into* town much beyond the waterfront. I can budget energy for the Academy, probably, if I have nothing else planned that week. But not soon, things are pretty bad right now.

      San Jose is a little easier, and we’d love to treat you to a visit to the Children’s Discovery Museum too, we have a membership. And I have your number so we can arrange something.

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