When something does not exist that you would love for your homeschooled kids to do, you or another homeschooling parnet sometimes have to create it. When opportunities do not knock on your door you sometimes someone in the community (like you) has to create it.
"Make Something Happen"
-quote seen on a mug in a psychologist's office
In this case a homeschooling mother found out about programs offered to children in the community that were run in after-school hours. She approached the center about custom making a class for homeschooled kids during school hours on a school day. My sons will be in the class.
Most places are open to this if the homeschool parent is willing to do all the work to coordinate, find and market the class to the homeschooling community. I've been told that not all centers have the staff to start a new marketing project to go find homeschoolers for homeschooled kids to take the class with especially if they have no clue about how to find the homeschoolers in their area. This is especially an issue for nonprofit centers such as YMCAs and their various branches. Most centers are happy to do these classes to put bodies in the otherwise empty building during the school day, to generate revenue that would otherwise not be there.
Only once did a (for profit, new) center I approached have a problem and that was because they were using only public school teachers to teach the classes in the teacher's after school hours and they could not find fine art teachers with open schedules to teach classes once a week during the school day.
I have organized some classes for homeschoolers and can say with honesty that it is not always easy. To be frank some homeschooling parents can be a pain in the butt, rude, or outright demanding beyond what is considered normal etiquette or courtesy. Some homeschooling mothers are so used to having everything so custom tailored to their personal whims and needs that they can be overly demanding in their requests even when taking a class at a professional center.
"I want this class for this aged child, yes mine is younger than the stated age the center offers but my child is gifted and is beyond what is offered for her age. I also need the class to be over before 1:15 p.m. as my younger child needs a nap at home and simply cannot alter their napping schedule and to keep our lunch on schedule it should start no earlier than 12:15 p.m." This is a sample of the many special requests that I had to contend with when trying to set up new classes for homeschoolers. After a really bad experience I swore off organizing classes until further notice.
However my experience not let it not deter you from attempting this in your area. Maybe it was just the people I dealt with, maybe it was my geographic area, blame it on the New York City attitude that overflows here, I don't know what it was.
I signed my kids up for a class at this center based on an email. Only now am I seeing the wonderful brochure they have online and I'm blown away by other options available for other programs and for other aged kids. I see endless possibilities here.
One more thing. In order for my kids to do this class some things have been done by me. I am making changes to our typical plans to make room for this opportunity. It is not that this class is two doors down from me, cheap and happens to jive with our lives seamlessly.
1. I am willing to drive the one hour to get to the Center each way, due to the unique nature and wonderful opportunity that this class is.
2. I am willing to shuffle around my preferred home education lessons at home schedule to make room for this class.
3. I am willing to pay for this class. The cost seems reasonable to me given the expensive equipment the children will be using and the fact that they have real studios and experienced staff to work with. However not all families may want to spend their money in this way or put money toward something in performance arts like this filmmaking class.
I note in their regular programs that this nonprofit organization has some scholarship money available to families temporarily or more permanently living with a low income. Other Centers that you may work with may have the same thing. I also found that fine art classes being offered at an Art Center branch of the YMCA had much lower prices (one half to two thirds lower) due to having received government grant money to offset their costs to the students taking the class (general grants not grants for homeschool programs).
I have made this decision for both of my boys to try this class as I feel this is one of the unique opportunities that schooled kids do not get to do inside regular schools. I feel that something that could be a great experience like this one should be made a priority at least for this fall semester. If it means putting history or math on the back burner for these two months, so be it. We can always catch up with those home-study lessons later in the year.
I hope the class is high quality. My boys are very excited about it.
I blogged about this to try to encourage you to open your eyes and ears for opportunities like this in your geographic area. There may be great things available that you don't know about. If you have to travel an hour each way or go into a city you think is not easy to drive in, your opportunities will broaden from what is in your backyard.
Look for these unique opportunities and then approach the centers asking for special homeschooler classes. Taking the class with other homeschoolers (not just taking after school classes with the general community) will let your child make friends or continue seeing existing friends in their local homeschooling community. You may also have a better chance of getting into high demand classes by creating a special homeschooler class instead of competing for slots with schooled kids using their after school programs.
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