NYCHEA Member Meetings
One of the ways NYCHEA maintains a sense of community is by having monthly meetings. Keep in mind that monthly meetings are just one aspect of NYCHEA activities. Most homeschoolers here participate in a huge number of classes and activities on a weekly basis. Meetings are different--they aren't so much about learning or accomplishing something, but they're more social, and more about showing off what you already know, and celebrating this with your peers. The meetings aren't set in stone--they change from year to year, and different people organize and run them, so in a way, we're always reinventing ourselves. But here's a sampling of what we do:
Not Back To School Picnic
For several years, we've kicked off the beginning of the school year with a tremendous picnic in Central Park. Yes, we might be celebrating that we're not in school that day like the rest of the kids in the city, but mostly, we're celebrating seeing our friends after summertime's inevitable trips and adventures to other places. You've probably not quite seen anything like this. This is usually the most well attended meeting of the year--in a big, festive way, it's a combination picnic/playdate/reunion.
Geared toward new homeschoolers, or anyone who wants to know more about different educational philosophies and specific information about curricula, we have experienced parents give short presentations about the way they school their kids. Also at this meeting we'll have a photographer available to do "School Pictures."
Kids dress up (or not) as a historical figure. They have a few moments to offer "clues" that reveal who they are--it could be famous quotes, quirky facts, actions, anything. The audience filled with other kids tries to guess who they are.
This is probably the second most popular meeting of the year, after the picnic. Traditionally held in December, the Craft Fair is a marketplace for the kids to buy and sell things they've made. We're surprised every year at the incredible caliber of things these kids can make. Everything from pottery to jewelry, baked goods, toys, paper, textiles and woolens. Kids bring their own money, and while they aren't manning their booths, they browse the offerings from other tables. In addition, there are always several high quality craft projects set up for kids to work on.
All kids are welcome to read something they've written to our friendly and supportive audience. Last year's Expo showcased a lovely variety of short stories and poetry. For many kids, this is a first opportunity to use a microphone and get up there before a crowd of onlookers.
Safety Fair This is a new meeting as of 2011. There will be various community members speaking about safety both on the street and in the home.
Ice Skating A popular meeting during the January slump. Join NYCHEA members for an afternoon of winter fun!
Another crowd pleaser--kids are welcome to bring a piece of art they've created to put up on display. At the same time, there is usually an art workshop going on so they can participate in creating something to take home.
Do these kids have talent! In the past we've had musicians, singers, theater groups, monologues, mimes, dancers, drummers, comedians--sometimes the parents get in on the act, and frequently whole classes perform, giving parents an idea of what goes on in the many of the classes available to their kids.
Kids design experiments, demonstrations or informational displays. The Science Fair is a loud, chaotic day of learning and playing with hands on activities designed by fellow homeschoolers. Generally this meeting is pretty impressive. Everything from robotics to physics, chemistry, biology, climatology, anatomy, botany--you name it, if it has to do with science, some kid has learned something cool about it and wants to share it with everyone she knows.
Field Day is the last meeting of the year. It involves soccer, pizza, some organized races and games, and much running around and enjoying time on the astroturf with friends. If the picnic is the sun rising on a new school year, Field Day is where we cozy up on our lawn blankets and watch the sun set--and maybe offer up a big sigh--another school year is complete.
Meetings are held all over the city. We've found some great spots over the years. Meeting days vary so as not to interrupt regularly scheduled classes any more than necessary. Meetings are free to members (they are one of the primary costs that our membership fees go toward), and are a lot of fun.