I have already written about my five-year-old’s favorite knee-high naturalist class at the Sandy Creek Nature Center in Athens, GA. Now it’s time to write about the other awesome classes they have that are just for homeschoolers! We’ve been taking the Homeschool Science classes this past year, and we intend to keep taking them as long as we can. I can’t sing the praises of the staff and volunteers at the nature center enough. They are a wonderful group of people who truly care about educating children.
Homeschool Science classes are once a month and last for two hours each. There are two separate classes – one class for ages 5-9 and another for ages 10-15. They are very reasonably priced (at this time: $4 per class for Athens-Clarke County residents and $6 per class for non-residents) and you can sign up for just one or all of them. Parents accompany the students and many younger siblings tag along too. Everyone I have encountered there has been easy-going yet eager to learn and help the kids. Surprisingly, my two-year-old wasn’t too much trouble for me when I brought him along:
Every class begins with indoor instruction/activities and then everyone goes outside for a hike and other activity. Classes are usually divided into two or more groups, depending on the size, and then they rotate the activities. Quite a few people enroll in these classes!
In our last class, we learned about fish, and the whole class got to go fishing! (Complete with safety instructions too.) Another group went to another area and used small nets to catch critters in the pond. Then the groups changed places. The staff and volunteers always make sure that all the kids get to participate and receive any help they might need. Parents also help as needed. (I wish I had my camera when my son was fishing for the first time! The photos you see on this page were taken during two other classes.)
If you are a newbie to these kind of classes and have small children, you might find that a two-hour class is quite long! At least, I felt that way the first couple of times. I was quite tired at the end. For some reason, it feels a little easier for me now. Maybe that’s because I’m physically and mentally prepared. I make these recommendations for you:
- Wear comfortable shoes that can get dirty. Most classes include a hike in the woods. Strollers are not accessible.
- Pay attention to weather and wear appropriate clothing. They WILL GO OUTSIDE EVEN ON COLD, RAINY DAYS.
- Bring snacks/water, but nothing difficult to carry. Students don’t eat during the class, but I’ve noticed several kids are ready to eat right after class. My five-year-old doesn’t need to eat, but I usually have to give my two-year-old a snack, if he’s with us. I keep water in the car for the drive home.
- I wear a small backpack so that my arms and hands are free. This makes my life easier all the time – not just during this class! But I do recommend it for the class.
- You may want to leave your toddlers at home with a babysitter the first time so that you can see how the class goes, but don’t worry if you need to bring them with you.
Please share where you live and your favorite classes available to homeschoolers.