As we say goodbye to 2018, I’m reflecting on an awesome year for our group. A year of dynamic growth, of classes and events that included families from near and far. Thank you for your stories about empowerment, finding confidence, trying new things. Of making friendships and connections which have supported you as a homeschooling family. This is the group’s intention and why it exists.
I want to thank you so much, for all your kind words, encouragement, gifts, emails, texts and cards - absolutely overwhelming. I am so humbled by this, because this never seems like “work” to me. Being a volunteer admin for this amazing group is something I love doing. I get to meet and be with wonderful people, my kids love it, and I am so proud of all we have learnt and achieved together. I especially love the co-operative spirit and positive vibe.
As we head into 2019 – a fresh new year that beckons and glitters with exciting opportunity :) let’s look forward to starting afresh, with a fresh vision.
I want to clear the way for that by responding to some misconceptions that surfaced this year. This is an opportunity to bust a few "myths", and be clear about the group’s intentions going forward.
a thing intended; an aim or plan
I love hearing that sometimes your connection with this group has helped you to connect with other Auckland groups. This means our group is fulfilling its intention to connect homeschooling families with a wider homeschooling community.
The Homeschool Group is not “the” homeschool group, and has never tried to be. It’s just one of many. The homeschool groups in our big city are diverse, disparate, different. And all essential. Every single one. In a city like ours, with over 1000 homeschoolers, this is how it should be. So if our name is still misleading to some, the explanation of its intention is still on our website here.
Because we’re a family group, we've always run a programme for families (not a specific age group). That means activities are for all ages - from babies up to and including adults. All ages. Intention: to provide affordable activities to suit the needs and ages of the families who support the group.
Changing to Thursday - We changed to Thursday for one reason - it was the only day we could get where our rapidly growing group wasn't squashed up with other user groups. There was no other agenda, and if Friday hadn’t become so problematic, we'd still be doing Fridays. Read all about our survey results and explanations here. The intention? To create an uninterrupted day, more class space, more time and a better learning environment.
I love that we have the freedom to choose the groups and events that suit us best - to choose from the rich line up of playgroups, nature groups, unschooling groups, study groups, classes, events, sports - all the variety that different groups provide. Having all these options will mean that things clash. But in the large, spread out city that is Auckland, the logistical challenge of not clashing with anything else (even finding out what those things might be) is a Very. Big. Job. We have always said that families are quite capable of making their own decisions and will go where they need to be.
Increasing classes, running events, changing our day to Thursdays - everything we’ve done has been a response to the needs and ideas of the families who are with us. We have been intentional about recognising that support. More support meant we did more. The group exists to provide, not to compete.
Because the needs of your family change, there is no commitment required here beyond a term. There are no membership fees. You have complete freedom to float in and out of this group, as you choose. There are no judgements if you do so :) And nobody will judge you if you join another group :) Or two groups. Or three. Or more. What matters is that you do what works for your family, wherever that is. We LOVE that there is much to choose from. There should be. A dynamic homeschooling community in a city the size of Auckland will be reflected in lots of different groups and lots happening (yes, sometimes even on the same day). And can that just be okay? Can we just enjoy having choices and choose where we need to be?
A huge part of my decision to homeschool my children is having the freedom to go wherever we need to. This is really important to me, so I like groups that support and encourage me in this. It’s at the very heart of what I bring to this group along with being inclusive and supportive. A range of groups & events is brilliant for our many different learning beliefs and styles.
The challenge for the wider homeschooling community out there is to create a positive and encouraging space for groups and events to exist. A space that rises above speculation, judgement and a competitive mindset. One that supports people to be “start-up champions” - to run an event, to start a group, to have a go. This is how we grow and learn. If anyone is looking for support to start their own community group, or start a Playgroup and apply for funding, or would like encouragement to run their own event, we are happy to offer whatever help we can. We will freely share all that we have learnt and will work with you to support it.
Our group’s intention is to provide, not to compete. The strength of the support and response to what we did in 2018 is already shaping what we can do next year. Already the opportunities are lining up – they are many, and exciting. The Homeschool Group is fluid, responsive - it changes. The vibe is positive, and inclusive. As long as it fits with “fun, friendship & learning” we'll give it a go and try new things. A fixed, prescriptive agenda won't work for us - we want the freedom to explore, to try, to mix it up, to start new things. And that, is magic :)
Openness about what the group is doing and why is really important to me. I’m transparent about the group’s intentions and I believe that open discussion is way more healthy than speculation. If you’d like to talk more about any of these things, I welcome discussion and I welcome your call.
Ph: 0272 209949
“The group exists to provide, not to compete.”
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, can I say how much I’m looking forward to next year - to new opportunities, to being part of this vibrant, uplifting group. I want to give very special thanks to all the people who have contributed so much in 2018 and make this group what it is.
Our families. Thank you everyone, for bringing a wonderful, positive vibe to Thursdays, for your encouragement and support. All of you who extend warmth and welcome to visitors and new families :)
Our generous and amazing tutors in 2018: Lucy Perin, Tegan Sievewright, Lizzie Traviss, Bayley Hughes (Brain Play), Mandy Jakich & Antonia Nesbitt (Creative Matters), Leigh Bradbury-Taylor, Pete Clouston, Annelli Morla, Levi & Henry Sharpe (and Sophia), Cindy and Jordan Scott, Taryn Howarth, Kylie Douglas, Annalily van den Broeke. These tutors give so much, are passionate and professional with their teaching, and their relationship with their students. Thank you.
The YMCA management (Steve Bartholemew & Jessica Baker) and YMCA team (especially Megan Bowker), who support what we do in so many ways, and who are increasingly flexible and helpful around what we need to do.
To our event co-ordinators, Angela Gilberd and Monica Reed – thank you for an AWESOME YEAR! Thanks for all you've done, and your families too! Four amazing events plus market days – WOW.
To all the many wonderful people, parents and students who took part in our events as sponsors, judges, presentation panels, MCs and volunteers.
To Dorinda Duthie, thank you so much for your wonderful encouragement and being a champion for the ongoing parent support you provide each term.
To all the lovely parents in the playgroup who maintain this wonderful space to relax and play.
To Cara Scott and Sarah Ivey for being welcoming champions – thank you.
To all the families who have set up and cleaned up this year - thank you – HUGE thank you! Special mention to the Smith and Scott families :)
To Constable Paul Stanko, School Community Officer for NZ Police – thanks for working with us, for helping us turn a negative situation into something we all learnt from, and being a positive police presence. We're looking forward to seeing more of Paul in 2019 and learning more about what the police do in our communities.
To Massey Public Library who have been a huge encouragement and support to our group. Special thanks to Joanne Crummer (Manager Community Library Massey) and Christine Calis (Senior Children & Youth Librarian).
To all the unofficial sponsors and friends of the group, who never let me name them – you know who you are - thank you for your generosity this year, which has allowed us to do so much! Special thanks for the amazing prize donations and funding at the Tech Fair.
What's lined up for 2019? I hope it's more good times together, more opportunities, more meet ups, more choices. Who knows - maybe more days? :)
Here’s to happy holidays. To moving forward. And a wonderful 2019.