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If you're involved with local HE groups, what do you actually do/get from it?

(7 Posts)
Rubimou Wed 10-Nov-10 18:02:05

Am wondering this because, even though leaning towards certainty that we will be HE our children, am still not quite able to let go of the vision I had always imagined that at some point I would be one of those mums at the school gates picking up her children and having lots of local friendships that way and so on. So I need to build a new picture in my mind of what our future might look like IYSWIM
We currently live abroad, and will be moving back to UK in the early part of next year, so I don't have a mum network to plug into.
Also I was mildly freaked out by a recent thead about your HE group pissing you off because of members being "sanctimonious, introverted, serious, humourless, dull" grin
Pleeeeease tell me it isn't always so! Many of the posters I've read on here seem humourous and outward looking and full of common sense but I can see how HE would attract the inward looking and child obsessed types.
SO, what does your group get up to, have you and how big a part o your HE life is it, please spill the beans!!

julienoshoes Wed 10-Nov-10 21:23:00

It does depend on where you live I think, but our local groups were a huge part of our lives-both ours and the childrens.

We had been very active in the PTA when the children were in school-and did have friends we made that way (and some are still friends bless them)
The home ed group nearest to used to be quite small, we went along to a local YMCA hall once a week and then back to someones house afterwards.
The group grew and became to big for one person to host every week, so other parents started to take on more, hosting and organising activities and workshops.

The West Mids had always had a newsletter, since before we started home educating and we often joined in with their activities and then as the Worcs group grew, we began our own newsletter.....and them email support group.

I think the dynamics of the group is a constantly changing thing, as different people come and go.
For quite a while we had lots of teen things going on, but those teens have moved onto FE college and uni now and the groups seems to have a younger feel.
I always made sure there were lots of physical activities, because that is what my teens enjoyed and because I wanted to attract teens for them to become invoved with.
Other families have organised other activities that their families are interested in and then invited others to join.

We have done sooooo many different things with the groups (we also are lucky enough to be able to join in with the Gloucs groups activities)
sailing, kayaking, iceskating, swimming, bowling, rockclimbing and abseiling, rugby treasure trails, to name but a very small number of the very wide range of things.
We have been to theatres to see musicals (we have joined the London groups for this a number of times) ballet, Shakespear and contemporary plays. All at cheap educational group prices. We have visited many staetely homes and NT and English Heritage properties,
done workshops on Roman Soldiers, Victorian Needle Scoures Apprentices, Celts, Eygptians. Travelled on steam trains as evacuees.....all sorts of everything really.

We have joined with camps and gatherings locally and nationally-my children and I truly have friends all over the country and internationally from HE.

I realised how much I got from the adult friends I have made, when I realised how much I miss camping with them all and went along to the last one without any of my offspring!

Not everyone in every group will be right for you...just as not everyone at the school gates was the right friend for me.
We tried so many groups when we first started home educating and soon found what suited us best.
From then on we just went along when the children wanted to.

And my children ended up with a social life that was the envy of their schooled peers and cousins and I had a fabulous time too
and made many really good friends.

Seems a bit rambling, but I hope it helps.
Hope SDeuchars comes along and sees this thread. I'd have loved for our kids to have been involved with the South Wilts group's adventures!

Saracen Wed 10-Nov-10 23:02:58

I reckon about 1% of the HE parents in my area are "sanctimonious, introverted, serious, humourless, dull." Or maybe the more interesting people have scared them off and they've disappeared to HE in quiet isolation! That isn't to say that I enjoy the company of every single person, but I like most of them well enough. I have a small bit of common ground with everybody because we can always swap tips on cheap activities, outings, sports, good books, and so on.

Do you know where you'll be living? If it's reasonably well-populated you are bound to find some people who are to your liking, especially if you drive. It has to be said that you can cast your net much wider if you use a car.

To answer your question, in the first few years there was surprisingly little organised, considering how many of us HE where I live. There was no proper communication either, no internet presence. That was almost ten years ago and things have changed greatly for the better on both counts. At the time, I used to go to a group whose activities my dd didn't particularly enjoy, just so we could make friends. It took a long while, because the fortnightly meetings weren't frequent enough to make friends. But it happened eventually.

Then for about four years we had a home ed activity on most days of the week, usually something we quite liked, and dd had loads of friends. It was quite idyllic, free and easy, plenty of child-swapping, lift-sharing, and spontaneous playdates.

Now my older daughter's interests have shifted. She has just a few close friends, all of them home educated. She does many afternoon and evening (non-HE) activities where she enjoys casual friendships with kids she rarely sees elsewhere. Meanwhile my younger daughter is not yet a very sociable person and probably never will be as sociable as her sister. We only do one or two regular HE activities a week, but we go on many one-off HE trips and enjoy catching up with old friends and meeting new people there.

People do come and go - it's an area with a mobile population - but overall there is a feeling of comfortable permanence in our HE friendships. It doesn't necessarily matter that we aren't seeing people so often as we used to, and it doesn't matter that few of them are close friends. We don't have to make an effort to keep up with people. Like relatives, they are still around and we will keep bumping into them over and over. It's a feeling of community.

So, at this moment we might not appear to be doing much or getting much out of HE groups, but the very fact that they're there is enough to give us a sense of security and the feeling that we have options.

SDeuchars Thu 11-Nov-10 07:49:39

@JulieNS: Hope SDeuchars comes along and sees this thread. I'd have loved for our kids to have been involved with the South Wilts group's adventures!

OK, I'm here, but not for long - today is Robotics day! Julie is referring to the North Wilts FLL Robotics team (which has a website). It has been running (from my house!) for 6 years and we've had upwards of 25 kids aged 9-16 involved (up to 10 at a time apart from Y1, when we also had two foreign exchange children). We take part in a competition to build and program LEGO robots and we usually win something at the UK final. We have taken part in competitions in NL, and Japan and should have gone to Turkey this year (but the ash cloud intervened).

BTW, if anyone is near Bristol (UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre, Filton) we are in the regional tournament on Thurs 25 November and we can have as many supporters as we like this year. Contact me on robotics@nwilts-he.org.uk.

To return to the OP, we've been involved in groups since about 1995. I joined EO then and went along to the local group in SW London. We didn't get on with everyone, but I generally found that there were a few people I could relate to and that there was some point of contact and discussion with everyone.

When your children are older, you can plug in to other ("normal" after-school) activities (sports, music, youth orgs, etc.).

Life is freer as an EHEer. If you come out of a group meeting, you can often then go off with another family or arrange to meet up another day because both the parents and children know each other. At the school gate, the parents aren't really going to know much about each other.

When we moved to Swindon, I used the internet and EO contact list to find out about groups here and we joined in pottery, swimming and other activities. I have no experience of groups that meet for structured school work. Our groups have either been special interest or simply social. My DD did find it difficult the last 18 months or so as there were very few other EHE people around in her age group, but I suspect that would have happened if she had been at school (our local comp gets 27% with five A*-C GCSEs). Although robotics helped as she had access to a load of adult women (mostly) once a week. She also was confident about joining adult community groups (e.g. church homegroup, a toddler group and an evening class in ballroom dancing).

EHE young people take others seriously and expect to be taken seriously. Teachers and others often say "they cannot relate to their peers in secondary". IME, this is because they do not expect to behave like "typical teens" - they are in charge of their own destiny and learning, so they do not need to rebel and muck around. My DD was always odd, so it not necessarily a good guide. However, my DS is neurotypical and has not been hanging around the adults so much (more choice of teen boys to hang around with). He is growing into a young man who relates well to adults - respectful without being deferential. He gives his opinion in the way you'd expect another adult to do. People used to schooled teens often find that difficult (in fact, my DD did a term in school at Y5 - her choice - and the teachers could not cope with the idea that she was not being rude but assertive...).

I'm also aware that the relationship with the others in the robotics team has changed - we are very much a team now, rather than adults in charge pushing them on.

Rubimou, if you'd like a phone conversation, I'm up for that - I could wax lyrical all day!

kpies Thu 11-Nov-10 18:23:04

I am in Hampshire HE my youngest of 4 children, the older ones are now in College and High School(their choice). The youngest has delayed social development, and in the two local groups we belong to he has lots of friends of all ages who all accept each other for who they are. We do have a couple of families where any form of discipline appears to have been over looked, but the rest of us adults speak firmly to the child and if the parent has a problem then they can speak up. We do a lot of social activities as well as group outings. We do glass work, pottery, drumming, we have a youth club, which is also open to non HE youth, there are science clubs, and a set up for the children to sit IGCSEs. We have some difficult parents, but they are outnumbered by the, feet on the ground up for a laugh, mums night out crowd. My son loves being HE and I love the re-education I am having.

Rubimou Thu 11-Nov-10 19:09:54

Thanks all for your replies. Everything that you're telling me is soooooo helpful. It's encouraging and helps me to see the bigger picture. As we're not in Uk at the moment I can't go along and meet any of my potential local groups, and we still haven't decided yet if we're moving to Bath or Bristol, but imagining maybe Bristol has more happening? Don't know if anyone has any insight there...
SDeuchers I would love a chat some time, will try and CAT you my email address.

NotAnotherBrick Thu 11-Nov-10 20:41:52

Hi Rubimou

I have met parents like the ones you mention, but I think you can meet those in all walks of life! Some people just take themselves far too seriously!

But our local HE groups are fab. I have made a lot of very good mum friends, and our children have all made good friends as well.

Bristol, I have heard, has a really good HE network - lots of activities and groups running. And Gloucestershire has a lot on as well - people do come up from Bristol to our stuff sometimes.

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