That was the initial opening to this post, but as I lined out the "perfect groups" I realized that they could be aligned more than I realized. Here's what I came up with...
- Our perfect group needs more members. Both my kids, and in fact all the kids currently in our group, would benefit from a larger circle. It would give everyone more opportunities to try different things, and it would keep any one person from feeling left out. I also believe that it would give each child more opportunities to be leaders. I know that sounds counter intuitive, but because there are more people to follow more people can lead. Also, because I think they would benefit from being divided into younger and older groups we need more people to fill in those group.
- Our perfect group would have a discussion group for middle school kids. Ideally there would be a group of at least 10 diverse kids aged 10+ ish. They could spend time talking about books, philosophical lessons such as those from this book, and even decision making lessons like these. In this way the kids would have a place to bounce around all those ideas that are crammed into their little heads. They can have opportunities to view the world from other people's vantage points. We would have to have a similar group for the younger set with more age appropriate topics and materials.
- Our group would have lots of opportunities for sharing. Anything that the kids had been working on art, writing, special collections, monologues, music, etc. The kids would become a great support place. Also, having a place to "show off" is a great motivator. Creating for the sake of creating is nice, but pats on the back make it that much better.
- The group would regularly take on charity projects. These would decided upon by the whole group. Once again, the more opportunities for the kids to see other types of people the better. I know my kids have benefited greatly from the few times they have volunteered.
- We would have a nice mix of educational and recreational field trips. This way the group can satisfy their need for knowledge and their need for socializing. Some days we will visit a museum. Some days we will visit a playground or even the mall.
The biggest problem as far as I can see is the biggest problem I have in the world. Time is limited! I would love to say that one day per week could be field trip day and one day could be meeting day, but no one can devote two days a week to this (even if it was their perfect group too). So that leaves it to one day per week...
So, what if we alternated one week is discussion/sharing and the next is a field trip. Charity projects could be discussed during the sharing sessions, and we would have to schedule them separately. We would need one person to run each age group, and there would be 2-4 age groups (preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school). I know many people don't like the idea of age division, and I don't think that the boundries should be set in stone. I do think that each age group can be customized to the needs of it's members better if their interests are at similar levels.
So what do you think? Could it work? Is it a pipe dream?