We recently went to a play date hosted by a local homeschool group. We’ve been attending this group’s events for a few months now but they are starting a monthly play date at a park. Each month veteran homeschoolers will talk about a specific topic while the kids play. Storyteller was sad to hear that a good friend of hers was not going to be there and was worried about finding a new friend. I had to reassure her several times on the way to the park that I would help her but the girls took off running moments after getting out of the car.
I wandered over to a pavilion where I recognized a few moms whom I had already met. Slowly more families arrived and the kids joined an already packed playground. It was after regular school hours and the weather was beautiful so we were far from the only ones at the park.
After about 20 minutes of playing the moderator of our group rounded up all of our group’s kids and brought them over to the pavilion. As the kids emerged from the playground I noticed that many of them had paired up with other kids from our group and some of the girls were even holding hands. Out of all the kids at the park, it looked like the homeschool kids managed to find each other even though many of them had never met. Sure enough, Storyteller found a new friend.
The moderator had each kid tell the group their name and age. She made sure all of the kids had a friend to play with. Comedian was the only one who hadn’t found a friend and she made sure to let everyone know that she still needed a buddy! There was another girl about her age. The mom and I tried to get our girls to acknowledge each other but it didn’t really work. Comedian ended up tagging along with Storyteller and some other girls. Later on, Comedian noticed two girls sitting in the grass playing with dolls. She went over and they handed her a doll and they all played together. That doesn’t sound like anything noteworthy except that these girls were 7 and 8 years old. Comedian is just shy of 3 years old. There are not too many situations where a strange toddler is welcomed into the circle of a couple of 2nd graders!
I mentioned in a recent post about our challenges and successes that Storyteller had some scary experiences being the youngest in multi-aged classes. This play date was a great example of the positives of multi-aged activities and why I love them for our kids. The younger ones learn from the older kids and the older kids learn to lead and teach. And this all usually happens without much guidance from the grownups. These opportunities are rare in a regular school setting but they happen all the time outside the classroom in homeschool communities. Grouping kids according to such a small age range just doesn’t seem natural. It’s not something they do when on their own.