Asheville has a great homeschool coop, where parents share the production of a weekly day of classes, the subjects picked by the kids. Upon our arrival it was still summer and classes had not yet begun, but they still met weekly at different locations around town to discuss the program with potential families like ourselves.
All told, our girls were at three of these gatherings, which were always at a place of interest for the kids and were completely informal. I only went to two of these meetups, the first being at the Splash Park, which is one of those fountains where water jets shoot up from the ground. The location was at Pack Square Park, the main downtown park where many different events often took place. The second home school group I took the girls to was at the Botanical Gardens at UNCA.
We were a bit late, but we found the other families and joined them for play time at the creek. The kids looked under rocks, hiked up the creek bed, waded in the water, played in the sand, and painted their faces with some red clay paint they made. Eight kids who barely knew each other needed little prompting to do what kids will do when put in the right environment.
I talked with the other parents, two of whom I’d met at the previous meeting. I asked questions about the program from parents who had been it before. They would have a meeting in August to choose what courses would be taught. The children from each age group would nominate and vote on their own choices. Parents are asked to attend at least some of the classes as assistant facilitators, and whoever is able is asked to teach courses of interest to them. From what I could tell, this was a very horizontal organization, and I liked it. The cost was good too – one hundred dollars per semester per family. With three kids, that’s a right decent price.
Anyhow, we hadn’t decided what we would be doing for the girls’ classes at that point. We were just glad to be meeting families and discovering options. In the past, we have unschooled and world schooled Eva, Gaia, and Lila. Unschooling is basically just homeschooling without a forced curriculum. Kids will learn about whatever they are interested in, and there are many creative ways for parents to help facilitate that. Worldschooling means traveling with kids to let them learn about the world first hand. One aspect of what got us really excited about moving to Asheville is the myriad of options available here for alternative schooling options. Our girls are getting older and need much more social time, so we intended to put them into home school group classes one or two times a week. We still had many different programs to consider.
Eventually we talked the children into leaving the creek (they would have played for hours, no doubt) so we could walk around the rest of the botanical gardens. We followed the trail slowly, the kids stopping to play in different places along the way. The grounds are not huge, and we made our way around the loop in less than an hour.
We visited the gift shop on our way out, and said goodbye at the entrance. The girls had a good time, though as usual, Eva had no one her age to bond with. We are very much hoping for her to find some sort of pursuit here that she can share with friends her age. It was a nice afternoon, and I enjoyed the serene and beautiful setting of the gardens. More botanical gardens please!