Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Teen Wednesdays

Today is Teen Wednesday!

In order to help my teens avoid the dreaded socialization problem that we homeschoolers hear about so often, I started a teen club for them a few years ago. We meet every Wed. at a coffee house in a local bookstore.

First Wed. is Writers' Club. This is for teens who love to write and hope to make it their life's work.
Second and Third Weds. are Socrates Cafe . The teens pick a topic and we have a Socratic discussion.
Third Wed. is Readers' Anonymous. The teens vote on a book to read each month and then we get together to talk about it.
If there is a fifth Wed. we'll do something special. For example, we're planning on discussing the Chronicles of Narnia, all 7 books, next 5th Wed.

This has turned out to be a pretty popular club. We have a dedicated core group of about 7 or 8 teens for Writers' Club and about 20 to 25 who come to Socrates and Readers.

If your community doesn't have anything like this for your teenaged children, I encourage you to start it yourself. It has been a very rewarding experience, not only for the teens but for me too.

6 comments:

Catherine said...

Socrates Cafe is fun to go to!

Catherine

Nancy C. Brown said...

Maureen,
You inspired me.
But one of the problems I have is the geography. We all live so far away from each other, and there are smaller siblings to deal with.

I started Socrates Cafe, but the parents only want to do it once a month. The kids would love to meet weekly, but none of them drive yet. I understand the parent's view, but I think the kids need more than once a month.

But, at least its a start. I like the idea of adding other things, like Writer's Club and Reader's Anon.

And part of me said, "If Maureen can do it (with seven children) I can do it!" and that's why I tried. So, thanks!

Maureen Wittmann said...

Once a month is great I think -- way better than never! We started several years ago with Writers' Club and only met once a month. Socrates Cafe came the next year, and then only once a month. The kids really bugged me to up it to every week too, but I said no way. Hah! They gradually wore me down. I added a second Socrates each month last year, and then added Readers this year. They asked for it -- it wasn't my idea.

I figured at least I'd have the fifth Friday off when it came about, but no, I go and agree to make the fifth Friday a special book discussion. They bug me every year to continue over the summer, but I'm not giving in. Really, no way! :-)

Maybe over time as your Socrates group grows, you can add a second day. Maybe next school year. Some kids will still only come once, while others will make it for both meetings.

Don't get discouraged. If you build it, they will come ;-).

Maureen Wittmann said...

We have kids coming from as far as an hour away and it is hard on some families. Since we meet in a coffee house, some of the parents stick around and visit with one another. Or run errands in the mall. And others carpool.

I have a mom who babysits my kids so that I can be there to moderate.

I think that if we met in my home like you do, it would be impossible as the little children would be a distraction. My house doesn't really have a place where littles could play separately. Plus, parents can be a distraction too.

I tell parents that they are welcomed to sit in if they like. However, I once had a parent dominate the conversation and the kids were bummed. The idea of Socrates is to get the kids talking. So, parents are still welcomed but I make sure to clarify the rules first -- ask questions and let the kids talk. No pontificating :-).

Nancy C. Brown said...

We thought of that, too. At first I told the moms they could participate, and then one of them reminded me that some parents were known to kind of ramble on, so rather than allow that to happen, I just said parents could observe, but the kids participate. That has worked so far.

You are right about giving it time to grow. I'll bet next year it will be more often.

And we had nice weather so far and the little ones played outside. Even in the snow. They had a great time, too, so that worked out. We have a fenced in back yard, so that helps.

Maureen Wittmann said...

We started with just 5 or 6 kids the first year. We've had to move it twice to accommodate our growth.

Funny thing is that Writers' Club was just the opposite. The first year, I had 15 to 20 kids coming. However, several of those kids were brought screaming and kicking. My purpose was to offer a club for kids who LOVE writing, not for kids whose parents want them to write more.

Now we have a tightly knit group. Its great the way they support and help one another with their craft. I don't even have to teach grammar to my oldest, because his Writers' Club friends will get on his case if he starts to slide down that slippery slope of bad grammar. :-)