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(28 Posts)
picnicinthewoods Sat 15-Sep-12 10:50:38

We have recently moved to a new area & went to our first HE groups this week where we are now living. I know its early days but Im disappointed by the other kids behaviour. One group had some great activities, but we couldnt hear any of the instructions because all the kids just talked through it & none of the parents stopped them. They then all behaved like a bunch of hooligans in the play park. I was embarrased to be amoungst the group. Their was no supervision. I felt the kids had a 'I can do whatever I like' atitude.
We then went to another group and there was an activity where the kids were instructed by another adult & parents were watching from a distance. My DS was crying because he wanted me near & the other kids were whispering and laughing at him (according to my son). I told him not to take any notice, and he said he wasnt going to. He struggles following instructions in a group & is often doing something different to everyone else. I know kids will be kids, but it was just so disappointing.
The area we lived in before, the kids were so lovely to each other. It was like being part of one big family.
What are your experience of HE groups? Please dont tell me this is the norm!

picnicinthewoods Sat 15-Sep-12 10:52:18

excuse my typos their/there!!!!

Colleger Sat 15-Sep-12 11:14:00

It's probably best going to an activity that is provided by an organised group, not by home eders as the children tend to behave in these settings. We've also had problems in the past, terrible bullying to the point of some children being violently attacked and the parents not responding. This was my initial tainted view of autonomy gone too far as there belief was that the child guided everything so if they wanted to attack another child then that was accepted. hmm They hide under the blanket of autonomy when their parenting is actually one of benign neglect.

I have to say that I have been very lucky so far now that my son is being HE for a second time. My area do a lot of organised activities and I've met a variety of different parents. I used to be judged because my kids could read, or they weren't eating organic food' and I was even questioned for disciplining my kids! But the people I've come across all have differing views and don't judge each other for it. smile

You will find your group, eventually. smile

picnicinthewoods Sat 15-Sep-12 12:03:40

yes, I having been thinking about the whole autonomy thing now, it does seem like an excuse to 'not parent' for some people. We are somewhere inbetween unschooling and structure. My kids do have a lot of autonomy, but I also want to teach them to respect adults, to be kind to others and to respect property etc
Its not just the HE groups, I am seeing this a lot where I live now. Kids just ruling the roost. Its not nice.

julienoshoes Sat 15-Sep-12 15:38:22

Autonomous education doesn't mean lack of respect IMO or experience...quite the opposite in fact.
We were totally autonomous/radical unschoolers (after quite a structured beginning) and the only rule in our house was and is mutual respect (well apart from don't put your drinks on the wooden furniture and don't drink Mum's real ale wink) but I was a very involved parent, as were my AE friends. My kids didn't rule the roost, but they did have an equally respected voice in our family.

The groups I've run have been totally autonomous, and they have been friendly engaging places, sometimes with structure offered, sometimes not. We've always been welcomed back wherever we have been, and the feedback has been about how lovely and well behaved our children are.
The children chose to participate or not, but if they did, everyone was respectful..especially to the person giving their time to share their expertise.

I'm sorry you haven't found a group that suits you nearby yet. 'Horses for courses' a group with only organised activities wouldn't have suited me or mine at all, nor even one where children were expected to do activities put on.

Good luck in finding a group that suits you and yoursx

ommmward Sat 15-Sep-12 16:08:57

There are plenty of HE groups which expect the sort of behaviour from children that it sounds like you would be comfortable around, and have the sort of formal activities in which every child is expected to engage.

Since that sort of set-up doesn't work for the children with whom me and mine tend to hang out (because they are too little, or because of their special needs), we avoid that sort of group like the plague smile Each to their own. smile

IslaValargeone Sat 15-Sep-12 16:20:11

We have lived in two different areas and have struggled to find HE groups suited to us.
One group I was 'advised' not to bother going to as they are autonomous and disagreed quite strongly with any kind of structure. (we are fairly structured as I don't know if this is a long term thing for us yet)
Another group I found had kids similar to those found by the OP. I'm not particularly bothered about going to somewhere with organised activities as such, just one where the kids are semi civilised.
One meeting we went to, my dc was singled out by the owner of the establishment as the only one with any manners. We stopped going as I'm afraid to say I was ashamed to be associated with them.

picnicinthewoods Sat 15-Sep-12 19:01:53

Either Ive been misunderstood or I wasnt very clear, most likely the latter!! I am NOT looking for groups with activities where all children must participate & Im happy with a group with nothing structured atall. One of the groups I was talking about did have a structured activity but kids were not made to join in.....they could do whatever they wanted. Nearly all the kids did join in though & what Im irked about is the fact that they talked all the way through. Surely its not too much to ask for kids to be quiet when instructions are being given? Actually I wish I hadnt mentioned autonomy atall, its not about that, its just basic manners.
I will be keeping an open mind and trying lots of groups. I have no problem with the philosophy behind unschooling, I am very familiar with it & it works pretty well for us, although I would not like to label what we do, its ever-changing & evolving.

exoticfruits Sat 15-Sep-12 19:08:52

It is exactly like schools- they have the whole range from excellent to dire and so will HE groups. If you are lucky they work really well, but you can be very unlucky. My friend gave up on them and had to do her own thing.

picnicinthewoods Sat 15-Sep-12 19:39:49

agree on the mutual respect thing julienoshoes, just read your post again. Yep, a group like those would be what we're after.

catnipkitty Sat 15-Sep-12 19:59:38

I think you find all kinds kind of parents/parenting anywhere, be it school or HE groups. My girls are all quite quiet and prefer small groups and 1 to 1 play dates and we've never bothered with big, noisy groups for this reason, but we have met a few lovely HEd families local to us and choose to organise our own activities with them. Could you do that rather than go to the big groups? Then you have more control over the people you interact with.

Saracen Sun 16-Sep-12 01:31:20

I agree with catnipkitty's suggestion. Where I live, the highest standards of expected behaviour seem to be at the small groups which are invitation-only. I am guessing that one of the reasons they stay small and don't allow everyone to join is that it lets them ensure that all the parents have similar expectations.

If you live in an area with a reasonably large number of HE families I am sure you will find other people with whom you will feel comfortable for playdates and small-group activities. There may also be some larger groups farther afield which will work for you. It may take time for you to find them, but it's likely to be worthwhile for you.

picnicinthewoods Sun 16-Sep-12 08:57:06

ok, thanks, that is probably what I need to do in the long run....just need to go to all the groups initially to meet lots of HE families I suppose. I was probably being very unrealistic with my expectations! One of the things I actually like about HE is that it attracts such a range of different families & parenting. Ive got to stop expecting HE to be this perfect isnt always going to be.

throckenholt Mon 17-Sep-12 11:43:11

We went to the local HE group a few times (it was a half hour drive so took quite a chunk of the day to go to it). It was not worth the effort for us. The adults were friendly but the kids definitely weren't. They were off busy playing their own games in the hedge around the playing field, and pretty much ignored us (we went 3 or 4 times). My 3 played on the climbing frame for a bit, got picked on the group bully (easy to spot, ineffectual mum hovered in the background saying "X, don't do that, it isn't nice") when they other kids came over to play on the frame, and when asked if they wanted to go again very firmly said no.

I would like to have a good HE group locally like the ones people talk about on here and elsewhere, but I haven't found one, and have given up looking - we have enough to keep us occupied and have social interaction elsewhere. Would be nice for the kids to know they are not the only HE kids locally - they feel a bit unusual.

picnicinthewoods Mon 17-Sep-12 13:54:04

Sorry to hear that throckenholt. What a shame for your kids. Im trying to stay open minded at the moment & Im thinking of starting my own group in time, maybe you could try that? Atm, I need these groups. We do have quite a lot of social interaction with friends who dont HE and also cousins etc, but its not enough.

Colleger Mon 17-Sep-12 14:55:07

Half an hours drive is nothing in the HE community!

exoticfruits Mon 17-Sep-12 18:18:25

It is a shame that HE assumes that you have a car.Half an hours drive isn't only a lot for some people, it is impossible.

catnipkitty Mon 17-Sep-12 20:20:28

I much prefer to do local things that we can walk/cycle/bus to...really don't like driving much plus fuel too expensive. Amazing how much positive stuff we get from a bike ride around the local park and the fab local museum!

throckenholt Mon 17-Sep-12 20:59:29

To be honest it would have to be very good for me to be willing to drive more than half an hour. It takes so much time out of our day and stops us doing other stuff (maybe I am a bit biased - I only have 2 days plus the weekend with mine - I work the other 3 days - so I don't want to waste our time together).

Starting our own group would be an option - but I don't really want a regular commitment that I am responsible for.

I am sure if you get into a good HE group then it can be a great bonus, but for us at the moment it is not likely and not really something we miss.

Just wanted to put another point of view because you usually hear so much about how good the groups are, and I guess there is at least a silent minority who are more independent (for want of a better word).

mumto3boysHE Thu 20-Sep-12 13:32:01

We went to a few groups when my boys first came out of school. Some didn't suit us at all, others were quite enjoyable (from my point of view - from the boys' point, most were not the best experience in the world).

We ended up gravitating towards one or two families and eventually realised we all felt the same about the groups we were attending and decided to set our own up.

We now have a small, but expanding, group of children, ranging 8+. We don't all make every get together but certain things every fortnight or month have a full turn-out (or as full a turn-out you can get with us HE'ers wink)

Just keep trying different meetings, something will click eventually, honest!

picnicinthewoods Fri 21-Sep-12 14:47:40

I might have been a bit hasty in my judgement! A much better week this week, with 2 good groups smile

exoticfruits Fri 21-Sep-12 19:07:45

Glad it went well. HE groups are exactly the same as any other groups - the good, the bad and the indifferent.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 21-Sep-12 22:59:02

We haven't been to our local group or any other for that matter. One reason is our local group do things on a friday and that is not a good day for us and the other groups which would have lots going on would mean alot of time/effort getting there.
I can't say as I think we are missing out at all and would go if dd didn't have a full social life anyway.

RIFFI Sat 22-Sep-12 00:43:30

This thread is quite depressing reading as I have recently started HE.I have found it a challenge , hoping to give it a try for a couple of months.its very easy to get easily bored for the child and parent .what activities are you using in between the teaching?Without structure it's a complete joke,yet quite a few people on this thread are saying structure is not important.They are fooling themselves.To really make a difference to the child's progress you have to have clear strategies and learning objectives.I don't seem to be getting that sort of vibe from these threads.What are people using with older children?.Its mentally exhausting to be with one child all day.

Saracen Sat 22-Sep-12 05:16:53

Hi Riffi, I'm sorry to hear you have got off to a rough start.

With respect, I think you might consider that some of the people posting on these threads have followed a child-led approach which is not highly directed by the parent, that we have been doing so for a decade or more and have found that it works very well for our children. Even on very conventional measures of academic success such as admission to college or university, many of these young people would be considered very successful. Without knowing our children, I don't think that you are in a position to say that we are fooling ourselves or that our children's education is a joke.

This might or might not be the best way forward for your particular child, but don't write it off too hastily. If what you are doing isn't working for you, then perhaps it is worth keeping an open mind to alternatives.

It is mentally exhausting to be with one child all day, especially if the child is young or has an intense temperament. What have your experiences been of trying to go out and do things with other people - is that a nonstarter? If you cannot get out much, it is all the more important to find a way of having a mental break from your child. That does not have to be incompatible with a structured approach. You can do formal work with your child while still creating spaces in your day when you do things separately.

Do you want to go into more detail about how things have been going for you? I am sure that people will have some ideas and encouragement for you.

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