Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday's Answer: Kids Running Wild

"How do I inspire more structured time (like co-op art/ music/ etc.) classes - when so many people just want to let their kids run wild at the group meetings?"

This same question came up during a group leaders' meeting at a recent homeschool conference. Everyone had great ideas and encouragement for the leader:

  1. Have separate meetings for "free" time, mom's time, and class time
  2. Gather for a meeting to explain the problem and set rules and guidelines together
  3. Choose classes and activities that everyone is interested in
  4. Divide the meetings with half of the time being structured and half of the time given to free play
  5. Recognize that boys play more wildly and give them freedom to be boys

The leader graciously accepted these points and expressed that she had done all of them to no avail. She said that half the group wants rules and structure and the other half does not. None of these solutions had helped her group.

Hank Tate, a veteran leader since the eighties, began to get to the heart of the leader by asking if she had spoken to any family individually. She had not. There was a fear issue, especially with confrontation. He explained that she needed to choose one family with the most difficult problem and go to them directly (preferably with her husband or another leader) and be very firm in explaining the problem and expectations. Don't get worried if they threaten to leave. He said whether they get mad and leave or stay and change, you have solved your problem. Then deal with the next family, if needed. This isn't a fun or pretty part of leadership, but it is necessary sometimes.

To your fearlessness,

Denise & Kristen

Leader Store


Anonymous said...

Absolutely. If an activity or gathering meets someone's need they will attend. Consider introducing a regular "Family Free-for-All" park date or gym time and ask that person to head it up! Those who want it will go. Then someone else can head up "Enrichment Classes" for those who want structure, and those who don't abide by the structures set should kindly be asked not to come back (after given an inital chance to follow policy). By allowing fear to keep you from confronting those who have no respect for your group's guidelines, you will lose the families who DO respect rules and authority. They will seek out a few families to gather with who share their goals and principles, and your group's reputation will suffer.

Lisa Vaca said...

When the kids at our homeschool events are "running wild" as you describe, I like to get out our group's big parachute and... no, I wasn't going to say "jump off the nearest cliff and run away" although that is not a bad idea, now that I think about it... Anyway, at those crazy times in our group activities, I like to get all the kids together to play some parachute games. The parachute games bring everyone together and encourage unity within our group. The kids love it because it is a rare treat to get to play with the parachute outside of our P.E. classes. I love it because it is easy to include all ages in this type of activity. The other parents love it because, if done correctly, it really tires out the kids and then they are more willing to sit and eat, or sit and listen, or sit and work on whatever we are doing as a group that day... but at least they'll sit. So "Hooray" for the old fashioned playground parachute... and if that fails there is always the base-jumping option.