New group brings homeschoolers together

East Kootenay Homeschoolers launches second year with field trip around the region.

Halia checks out a children’s book during an EK Homeschoolers tour of the Cranbrook Public Library on Sept. 14.

As the 2012/13 school year heads into its third week, the East Kootenay Homeschoolers are enjoying their second year of fun meet-ups throughout the East Kootenay.

The group is made up of local home schooling parents and their children who meet to support each other and provide a social opportunity for their children. The students range in age from pre-school age to high school, with the majority elementary school aged.

Daleen Bybee, co-ordinator of the group, said it’s a great place for home schooled kids to make friends and parents to connect.

“We all represent a whole bunch of different distributed learning schools and so it is nice to be able to get together and support each other,” Bybee said. “The kids love getting to know each other and seeing one another on a weekly basis.”

EK Homeschoolers began in 2011 with a fun trip to Fort Steele and a tour of the Cranbrook Fire Hall.

Those two field trips were followed up with a fun day at Idlewild Park that featured a scavenger hunt, picnic, fishing, geocaching and play time.

Each week the attendance varies, with between 10 and 40 students participating.

“Families are busy and they come when they can, when it works for them,” Bybee said. “There is no pressure. No membership fees. There are some activities that require an RSVP but most are just come if you can.”

Bybee said many believe children who grow up in a home schooled environment are not socialized.

“We are living proof that this is not true,” she said. “Home schooling families have very connected children for the most part. Lots participate in weekly activities like dance, music, scouting or guiding and as a group we enjoy the benefits of strong connection with each other and amidst our children when we meet on a regular basis.”

Every trip is different and the group plans to travel to a number of great locations through the year.

“We like to keep it fresh,” Bybee said. “We try to do a variety of activities – field trips, tours, physical activities, creative activities, holiday themed activities.

All the trips have one thing in common: they’re all about learning.

“We have learned a lot about how our communities run this past year with field trips to the police station, the transfer station, vet clinic, Save On Foods and the SPCA,” Bybee said.

They also try to encourage physical activity where it’s possible. The kids have spent time doing gymnastics, geocaching and even skiing. Other opportunities include a tour of a dairy farm in Creston and pumpkin picking at Fort Steele Farms.

Bybee said the group is great for parents, and the information shared between them is invaluable.

“We support each other, bounce ideas off one another, share information about curriculum and learn from other families who have more experience than some of us.”

The group is brand new and growing all the time, but Bybee said its success is already obvious: especially in her own children.

“I know personally that I have made some connections and friendships that I hope will stay around for a long time,” she said. “My kids love the activity days and we look forward to getting all our school work done before Friday comes along.”

If you would like more information on EK Homeschoolers, visit their Facebook page facebook.com/ekhomeschoolers or ekhomeschoolers@gmail.com.