The following post is written by contributing writer, Shannen, of Middle Way Mom
We’re only human. We can’t be experts at everything, and this fact can intimidate people away from homeschooling. But when we think about it, why is that? We all know of people who are more gifted/talented/knowledgeable than we are, and some of these people might be our own friends, or people we know within the homeschooling community. Supplementing your homeschool with a small discussion group or class can bring a nice sigh of relief to an otherwise daunting subject.
Science is that subject for me, and we have created a small study circle with three families, five kids in all. While our setup might not work for you, here are some aspects to consider for creating your small study group.
Who is going to be in your group?
You probably already know some people who are interested in taking part in a study circle. You really have to be honest with yourself here. Do you have the time and capability to take on the responsibility of a study circle? Also, are the people you are going to join hands with reliable? While we should be forgiving to our friends and community members, we really have to ask ourselves if we think working with certain people will make for a successful group.
Where do you want to meet? Are you going to meet at one location every week, or change locations from week to week?
In our science group, we originally thought we would meet at a neutral location, and in the end decided that meeting at each others’ homes on a rotating basis worked out quite nicely. The smaller the group, the easier this decision is, in my experience. Of course, if one way doesn’t work, you can change it. With a smaller group, you’re not as tied down to one location because it’s easy to accommodate.
Who will be doing what? Do all the parents do the same thing, but on a rotating basis, or do you split it up by tasks?
Since I still have very small children (under 1 year and 3 years old), it worked best for our group if I could take a task that didn’t require undivided attention at a scheduled time. The other two moms preferred either the lecture piece, or the lab piece, so it worked out perfectly to split our jobs by task: I grade papers and send out assignments, another mom does the lecture and discussion circle, and the other mom leads the labs and experiments.
Are all the kids at the same level, or are adjustments needed for various ages and abilities? How is this handled?
Our group has three kids who are aiming for the AP exam, and the other two are not. The kids who are aiming for the AP work on their essay writing skills, while the kids work on items that still round out their assignments, but don’t necessarily have to be a writing assignment. Most of the supplementary work we have found is actually through the teacher resources for the textbook. Nice and easy!
How will you handle resources like microscopes, teacher books, or other items? If you have some items that are for the group as a whole, who will order them and keep them?
If you are meeting in a neutral space, maybe there is a storage locker that can be used or rented out. In our study group, two of the moms have a teacher book, and one mom keeps all the lab supplies. Since we already have our responsibilities split into tasks, it makes sense. If everyone had the same responsibilities, but on rotating weeks, you could leave all the supplies with the person who will be leading the group the upcoming week, as an example.
A small study group can be a fantastic addition to your homeschool, and it can be relatively easy to setup and maintain. Ironing out some details at the beginning makes it much easier, and builds an environment ready for success.
Do you utilize a small study group? How have you coordinated it and how have you liked it?
Shannen has started down the high school journey with her teen daughter, all the while trying to keep her baby and toddler occupied. She blogs at Middle Way Mom about homeschool, life as a convert Muslim family, parenting, and all else that life entails. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Plus (increasingly).
Photo Source: sxc.hu
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