Once every term, generally in the "school holidays" the local homeschool co-op gets together for a different reason. Usually we get together to give our children some co-operative learning experience and social time but this time the purpose is for the mums to get some co-operative learning and social time!! We call it our Network Meeting.
The goal of the Network meeting is to address an issue/s that will help mums in their homeschooling. Over the years we have discussed Curriculum Framework, teaching math, language arts, lesson planning, motivating our kids to learn, homeschooling with toddlers and so forth. This time we discussed Recording our Homeschool.
At the moment we have about 20 school age kids in our group, plus a string of toddlers. So over the last two years we have had the big kids look after the little kids and we are very excited to see what happens. I divide the kids into groups and one of the big kids is a leader in each group. The big kids are learning so many leadership skills from this opportunity.
They need to organise activities – they have to be aware of their team, not of what they want to play but what will work considering the ages and abilities of the kids they are looking after.
They have to work with different personalities – I have seen them be able to encourage a child who simply doesn’t want to, to join in, they have encouraged kids who would normally want their mums when upset to stay with the group, they encourage the little kids, with limited focus, to stay with them.
They have also been able to discern when they can’t handle something and have been able to talk about that. One girl is really petite and she struggles with the authority position when the other kids are her size (though younger). Another girl finds it hard to deal with 8-10yo boys; she’s fine one on one but not together. Knowing your limitations is a valuable leadership skill.
They also keep an eye on the clock so they know their intended schedule is on track. This of course is flexible but they don’t want to get bogged down in one activity but get through them all.
Each and every one of these skills that our older children are learning and practicing through this opportunity are the exact same skills that adults need in any leadership opportunity –
* to think of the team, not themselves
* to motivate towards the goal
* to deal with different personalities, and melt-downs
* to know their weaknesses, and to do something about it
* to work together with other leaders
* to creat a plan, and a timeline for that plan
* to stay on track with a plan
That is so exciting! So while our big kids are working with the little kids the mums are free to talk. This time round, we talked about Record Keeping – but that is another post!