We have a friend who is in a homeschool co-op. I joined a bunch of those moms to a recent women’s conference and I really enjoyed my time with them. They invited me to join the co-op this year. We’d be able to join in on the field trips, and we’d have an early start date, which would help us next year (or any time in the future) to get priority for sign-ups and classes. And, it’s pretty inexpensive to join! It sounded great to me. I’ve wanted to do a lot of field trips this year, but planning them and scheduling them is a bit stressful to me, even though that’s slightly ridiculous. So,we signed up and joined our co-op on our first field trip… to the pumpkin farm.
Overall, we had a great visit to the pumpkin farm. We went on a tour with our group, got to play in a few areas, went on a hayride, picked out a pumpkin for each kid, they got to ride on a little tram thing, and then more play. We ate on the on the way home and had really late naps, but it worked out.
First field trip = success!
It was interesting being with the big group… our first co-op experience. Honestly, it was a little frustrating. I thought that our group was too big for their tour, the farm should have broken us into two groups. While I normally think that the multi-age aspect to homeschool groups is beautiful, it actually made it hard in this instance. There weren’t too many little kids, I’m guessing that it’s because the tour really ran into nap time for most people. I generally found that the bigger kids were pretty rowdy and not considerate of other kids around, taking turns, etc. Pretty much for each station we went to on the tour, it was either way too crowded for C to enjoy, or for a few things, she just didn’t get a turn at all do to the thing she wanted to do. In the couple areas that she didn’t get a turn, either the tour leader wasn’t looking out for littler ones who were waiting for a turn, or she couldn’t get the older kids to even look at her to ask them for a turn.
C and E left pretty sad that they didn’t get a turn to pet the kitties, and C was really disappointed that she didn’t get to play on the bouncy/inflatable horse toys. For the kitties, it was hard… there were just a lot of kids and not enough time. All the big kids crowded around and my kids were waiting so nicely for their turn. Unfortunately, the tour guide wasn’t good at managing mixed ages of kids, and didn’t look for any little ones before putting the kitties away. For the bouncy horses, it was sad… C kept trying to ask the big kids for a turn, but she couldn’t even make eye contact. She was trying so hard, but couldn’t get a turn. The sad thing to me was that there were plenty of parents there… every family had a parent. But, none of the parents really saw what was going on, or bothered to step in.
My kids are pretty reserved; they are observers. In big groups like this, I end up feeling like I have to teach them to be pushy and demanding if they are going to get to do “the fun thing.” Obviously, I don’t want to teach my kids that. Especially at this young age, I want them to feel valued and loved for who they are.
Still, the field trip provided good lessons. It’s ok to learn that you don’t always get a turn. You aren’t the most important person and it isn’t all about you. Getting what you want when you want it, isn’t the goal of life, and we should think of others first. It’s ok to be last, miss something, or not always get what you wanted. Those are lessons kids need to learn, but they are hard lessons. It was a hard talk on the way home.
It wasn’t a total bust. C had fun doing the things she did get to do, and overall, had a great time. We also had a good time, in general, with the other kids, and I enjoyed talking with the moms. But, we had some hard lessons too.
I’m curious to go on future field trips and see what if the experience is the same. Was the tour just too full? At a bad time of day? Or will they all feel like this? Only time will tell.
What are your experiences with co-op field trips? Does my experience sound typical or unique?