So I tried to bail. But then, in public, in the presence of their friends, my kids swore up and down that they wanted to give it a try, at least for a month. They really wanted a science club, they said. Every week, even, rather than every 2 weeks as I'd suggested.
So here we go. Surprisingly, it's going sort of okay. We meet for 2 - 2 1/2 hours on Wednesday afternoons, in a comfortable but somewhat neutral place (i.e. not at either family's home). The age range is of course immense:
- 13-year-old boy of an anti-academic bent
- a 12-year-old girl of a hyper-intellectual bent who probably knows more about a lot of this stuff than both moms put together
- a 11-year-old girl who tends to gravitate to anything the 12yo does
- a 10-year-old anti-competitive perfectionistic boy who doesn't do "anything with points"
- a 8-year-old girl who is pretty tight with...
- a 7-year-old girl, who enjoys the tight little dyad
- a 5-year-old boy who has very strong ideas
- a 3-year-old girl who thinks she can do anything a 12-year-old can
- a 2-year-old girl who is at a pretty 'busy' stage, though occasionally naps at convenient times
I confess I enjoy the planning. I can organize and plan the sorts of explorations and activities that my kids would almost certainly balk at at home, considering them too contrived, too teacherish or schoolish or just worthy of the "not right now, I'm busy" response. In the group, they tolerate them, and even seem to enjoy some of them. They're already there, they might as well get involved, I guess.
Two things have become evident about Science Club. The first is that it is a very rare activity indeed which will engage everyone. The second is that splitting the group into a variety of activities doesn't work either! The solution, alas, seems to be to try to find those 'very rare activities.' Maybe they won't be so rare if we can get the knack of this.