Do you give park days a high priority? Have you ever felt guilty about taking the time to attend them? Have you ever skipped them to finish school work, or to punish your children?
When my kids were young and we were still new to homeschooling, my favorite day of the week was Park Day. Pretty much every Friday afternoon our homeschool group met at the city park where the kids played and the moms visited. I considered that time every bit as important as the time spent on school work. It was the time that the kids and I both were able to nurture essential friendships.
A Tale of Two Homeschool Groups
I especially appreciated Park Days because when we first started homeschooling we lived in a very small town that didn’t even have a city park, so we weren’t able to have park days. There was a homeschool group and we had activities and meetings, but everything was structured.
We came, we did whatever, and we left.
After six months in that town we had acquaintances, but not really any friends. In January I came down with “cedar fever,” an allergy that made my eyes itch and water, my nose run, and gave me sneezing fits. Our rental house was surrounded by cedars, so I asked my husband if he’d mind if I took the kids and went to spend some time at our beach house on the coast to get some relief. With his blessing I packed up the kids and school books and off we went.
Once there, I looked to see if there was a homeschool group in the area. There was, and they had a Park Day coming up the following Friday so I made a point to be there. After that first week down in Rockport, I felt like the kids and I had more friends than we had made after six months in the other area. That provided the support that I needed as a homeschool mom, and to make a long story short, we ended up moving to live in our beach house full-time.
Ever since then Park Days have been important to me. When we moved to southwest Missouri, I started a group for my rural area and planned park days at a nearby town. As my kids got older and started having more extra-curricular activities and classes, our schedule no longer allowed for park days. I still miss them and have fond memories of the friendships we developed there.
Unstructured time among fellow homeschoolers is where friendships can be made and nurtured.
Don’t underestimate the benefit to both you and your children, and don’t feel guilty about taking time off from school or house work.
In addition to support, park days offer other benefits such as socialization, fresh air, and physical activity.
If you’re feeling isolated then try to find a homeschool group near you that has social get-togethers, or consider organizing one yourself. It really isn’t hard and it doesn’t have to be a park. Just plan a time and a place and start spreading the word and inviting others to join you through social media homeschool groups.
If you’re an established homeschool mother, then reach out to other moms who may be new to homeschooling or to your area. Not only do children need friends, but homeschooling mothers need the support and encouragement that only other homeschool moms can provide. In fact, I recently asked a group of homeschool mothers where they looked for support, and the overwhelming response was “other homeschool moms.” No one else can understand the variety of pressures and emotions that a homeschool mom experiences.
Go Out and Play!
I hope that I’ve convinced you that park days (and other unstructured events) aren’t frivolous, but a necessity. Both you and your children will be happier, so give them the priority that they deserve.
The support that park days offer can very well mean the difference between homeschool success and putting the kids back in school.