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my co-op update (friends w/ older kids?)


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What should I do?

 

So we've attended twice now (it meets once a week). I did NOT have to choke anyone else's kids, so that was good. :tongue_smilie: Everyone has been very nice. My only problem is that almost all the kids are older than dd, say six and up. Dd has attempted to play with them (she is very verbal and confident, and the kids in her life that she plays with are all older, by chance, such as cousins), but like someone here pointed out, little kids often aren't on the big kids' radar. For the most part, they ignore her. :( This week, there was a little boy dd's age, but dd isn't rough and tumble, so I didn't see her try to play with him. There was also a little girl dd's age, but she is very introverted. She is in her own world, and wasn't very interested in chatting with dd (although her mom did say she interacted with dd more than she usually does with kids!). She's not "odd" or anything, she is just more independent (like sometimes responding to dd, but other times just walking away without responding).

 

I'm trying not to project my own feelings onto dd, but she did seem sad that she didn't have anyone to play with. :( I joined this group just to help her make friends. What do I do? Should I try and make dd more attractive to the older kids by having her bring treats some week? Should I try and lead some sort of activity (we meet at a playground, so it's completely child-led)? Is there hope for making friends with the little girl (I was thinking, in six months, who knows what she'll be like? And if dd has been around her every week, maybe she will be her first real friend?)?

 

What would you do? There are many groups where I live, but none even come close to the convenience of this group. This is EXACTLY the kind of group I was hoping to find, in every way.... except dd doesn't have anyone to play with. :(

 

ETA: Part of my issue is that I don't want to push dd to be friends with a child who mostly ignores her.

Edited by RaeAnne
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... I joined this group just to help her make friends. What do I do? Should I try and make dd more attractive to the older kids by having her bring treats some week? ....

 

You do not want to be THAT mother! Children recognize bribes when they see them. It is possible that they would play with your daughter for a few minutes on the days you brought the treats. They are just as likely to grab the treats and run. You also run the risk of alienating the parents. In the long run you would be doing more harm than good.

 

In six months time, the introverted little girl may open up to your daughter, some of the rough edges may rub off the little boy, or your daughter may become more rough and tumble. Maybe, maybe not. Does your daughter look forward to going to the co-op? If not, drop it and revisit in a year or two.

 

Have you considered a mommy and me type program or a preschooler's play group? There would be more children your daughter's age in such groups.

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I think I'd look for a group that includes more kids her age. The whole point is for her to be able to have friends. If there's just not really that potential in this group, then it's not going to serve her needs....

:iagree:

Your daughter is two? I would look more at the library story times, a Mommy and me group, and/or just going to your local park instead of a homeschool group. Of course some homeschool groups do have younger siblings but this one doesn't sound like it has many and really it's focus is going to be on school age children.

:iagree:

What about a local MOMS Club? Generally the kids that attend are younger than school age (at least during the school year and during the day). My local club has age-specific playgroups, park days, coffee chats, book clubs, craft days (for mom and for kids), and so on. When I go, DS8 is the odd-man-out (because he is older than the rest of the kids most of the time but he finds ways to occupy himself without interfering with the younger kids) but DD4 has a ball.

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What about a local MOMS Club? Generally the kids that attend are younger than school age (at least during the school year and during the day).

 

This is what I did when my kids were younger. We tried a couple of homeschool groups but as mentioned previously they are set up mainly to support school-aged kids. We enjoyed the 2 years we did Moms Club.

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Gently...Two is not 'school age'. (Which is not to say you don't have a bright child). These bigger 'school age' kids are going to seem rough to you because your dd is a baby. When my hsers were two, our little friends were mostly from La Leche League...and many of those children became homeschoolers.

 

 

Other places we found little friends:

Library

Waldorf playgroup at a Waldorf school

Music Together

Hanging at the little kid area of the playground

Mommy & Me yoga, swimming etc at the Y

Edited by LibraryLover
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Your daughter is 2 going to be 3 in January? Do you have older children in the co-op? If not, then I would say scrap the co-op until she is older. Join Mommy and Me groups, library story time, or even let her attend a Mom's Day Out program for her to make friends.

I will be honest as a parent of older children with a 3 yr old younger brother...I would not be comfortable with my older children playing with such a young child or them being targeted to play with a child so young. There is the element of size, maturity, and welll just plain somebody getting hurt accidentally. Even if your 2 yr old is mature and plays well with older cousins, they are her cousins and have been around her. Other older children are more rough, bigger, and may not realize that they could hurt your child's feelings or hurt your child physically accidentally. I have seen this with my older children's frineds trying to play in the yard with my big kids as well as my 3 yr old.

At 2 almost 3, most children are not in the I want friends yet stage. Developmentally, they are ready to begin exploring sharing with friends and having playdates.

Honestly, if I were going to a co-op with my school aged children and there was a toddler there trying to play with my ds7 then I would call him over and tell him to go play in another area. I would do it to protect my son should such a younger child get hurt either physically or emotionally while playing with him. ds7 is small and can even pass for 5 and the Mama bear in a parent is so fierce when your child is under 5 that often he found himself facing a parent who didn't understand why he would not want to play with their child or that he would get frustrated with a 4 yr old following him until he would push the child away.

I would really encourage you to find some activities geared for toddlers and preschoolers not school aged children.

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Our hsing friends are 18 to newborn, and I do think children can be friends with others of any age. The children get along very well, and the older children look out for the younger children. The older children do look as if they are playing hard and fast and loose..children do sometimes fall. Sometimes they cry. Sometimes someone doesn't feel like doing something another children wants to do. They work it out.

 

We have been together a long time...we know that the older children are not 'rejecting' the toddlers...sometimes they will play with them...making them laugh, rolling balls to them, pulling them in wagons etc etc. But sometimes they aren't interested in that and go off to their own rough and tumble stuff. It's not personal, and nobody thinks badly about that.

 

If you continue to attend this playgroup, you may find some of these kids have young siblings your dd might enjoy. However. You would have to change how you see these 'older kids'. That is, they are playing...they are not being mean to your toddler, and they are not 'rejecting' your child.

Edited by LibraryLover
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Adding....the parents of school-aged kids are probably looking for similar aged friends for their kids. I wouldn't consider a 2yo or 3yo to be "friend" material for my 6yo & 8yo.

 

I agree that I would stay with more the preschool aged crowd since this is your oldest dc. However, if you could find a homeschool group with younger sibs your dc's age, then that might be another good option. In my TX homeschool group, we had four or five families with kids aged infant - 1st/2nd grade. That was a perfect fit for my family, and you would have felt comfortable within that group.

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Adding....the parents of school-aged kids are probably looking for similar aged friends for their kids. I wouldn't consider a 2yo or 3yo to be "friend" material for my 6yo & 8yo.

 

 

 

I agree with this totally. You aren't going to get play dates or further outings from this age range. Your child will only see these children in this setting. A parent of a 6 yr old or older will see taking home a 2-3 yr old as babysitting not as a potential friend for their child. They may would do it as a favor b/c you know each other from the group, but it wouldn't be seen as their child having a "friend" over.

If you were in a group that was geared at your child's age, then you would probably get play dates and birthday invites and much more of an opportunity for your child to develop "friendships" with the children.

I get that this is your "ideal" homeschool group. It is just that your child really isn't a school-age child yet. I would keep in touch with this group for the future, but also find a group that is more appropriate to your child's age right now.

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I agree as well. We have several toddlers in our co op, and the older kids (my son included) play nicely with them when they get out on the gym floor (making them feel like they're playing on level with the big kids, while keeping things easy and safe)...but honestly, a 2yo isn't someone that my child would be drawn to, other than to help babysit her. Even when he was younger, he'd play with younger kids for a little while and have fun with them, but then it was off to kids his own age.

 

These kids aren't rejecting your daughter, and their parents aren't rejecting you...it's just that she's 2, and they're not. They're little as well - they're doing what comes naturally to them, which is going to be pretty rough and tumble as compared to what your daughter is ready for. They can't really be faulted for that.

 

Right now, your daughter is going to be drawn more to you and to family members. That's kind of the way it's supposed to be. I would recommend the same as most people here - MOMS clubs, Mom's Day Out programs, preschool gymnastics (if she's interested in that), library days, etc.

 

On one hand, it's not fair to expect her to swim in the big pool yet, metaphorically speaking...she's just not ready yet for what 6-8yo's do while playing in groups. Most hs groups are designed for school-age kids. As well, it's not fair to those kids to expect them to include a 2yo in all of their activities, knowing that she can't yet keep up with them. They also learn through play, and that's a major activity for them at that age.

 

I do understand what it's like with a gifted toddler...I had one. (Looking at the activities your 2yo is doing, I'm assuming she's gifted.) He started reading around age 2, and the week he turned 2, asked me (in a full sentence), "Who's God and why can't I see Him?" Oy! It was rough finding things for him to feel included in, but we kept looking. I found, for him, that small group activities were a good thing until he was about 6-7, but that was him.

 

Anyhoo...hope that helps, and hope that you find the right environment for her soon.

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I agree with others. *If* you go to a home school group, you're going to have to accept that most of the kids will be school-aged (though you may luck into a group with younger siblings), and the activities will be geared towards older children. And while a six or seven year old may be very kind to your dd for a period of time and care for her, the difference between two or three and six or seven is *massive* at that age. It becomes more of a mothering relationship for the older child, not a "friend" relationship. It may work well sometimes, but it's unlikely to match the relationships between six year olds (or three year olds).

 

I certainly understand your desire for friends among other future home schoolers, and I wouldn't discourage you from building relationships in the home school community. But make those for *you*, not her right now. If she's able to build some long-term friendships there, that's great. But many times the people who join home school groups with toddlers will change their minds by the time their kids are 4-6 years old. (It always amazes me when someone says "We've been home schooling for three years, but we're ready to put our 5yo oldest child in school now." ?!? But it happens.) So there's no guarantee. ... With younger siblings in families that are already home schooling older kids, your odds are a little higher. But those families will, by necessity, have some differences in the way they operate (compared to a family with only very young children).

 

I think the idea of meeting other families through La Leche League (call local groups and see if they have a regular park playdate -- that way even if you're not nursing, you might find other families with small children and similar home-oriented philosophies), library story time, museum toddler play times (often the families that come to these are more likely to home school later on than others), etc, etc is great.

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I agree with all the others. Also, I wanted to throw one last idea out there. Do you have a Yahoo group or some other kind of local email loop? Not long ago, on our local group, someone posted about starting a biweekly play date for preschool homeschoolers specifically. I'm sure older sibs were welcome, but the focus was on providing activities for younger kids and encouraging their play together. I know she got quite a few responses, so there's definitely a need to be fulfilled there. Could you post something like that somewhere? It might take a little while for others to find you and your group, but then your stated purpose would be out there upfront, and like-minded people would join you.

 

I agree with Kates--it's a hard spot to be in :grouphug:

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There are too many replies for me to address, so I'll just make one post and hopefully I'll remember everything. :tongue_smilie:

 

I appreciate everyone's responses. I chose a homeschool group, not because we are really homeschooling yet at this age, but because I don't really see the point in finding friends that will just go off to school in a few years (or sooner, if it's preschool) anyway. If I just want casual playmates, she can find those when we go to the store and she makes a little friend for a few minutes. On a personal note, it's also very draining to me to go to these groups, and the idea of having to switch in just a couple years seems like a huge waste of time. I don't want to make friends I will lose in a few years either! Also, why do all those groups meet in the morning??

 

I think part of my frustration is that dd plays very well with the kids at church, none of whom are her age. All of those kids are the same ages as the kids in the co-op (five and up, mostly "and up"). :confused: What am I missing? At the same time, no, I definitely couldn't expect interactions outside the group with these older kids. I never expected this, but I hadn't thought about the obvious limitations of this if my goal is to help her make friends. Thanks for making me address this consciously. Just to reiterate, it's not that I think dd is an older child's peer. This whole thing just hasn't been our experience with older kids up to this point, so I'm wondering what makes this situation so different. I see all these posts about how homeschooled kids are able to get along with a wide variety of age groups, unlike public schooled kids. Obviously I'm feeling defensive here. I just don't get how you can know if you have something in common with someone if you won't even talk to them when they are making an effort to connect with you. If you have nothing in common, then so be it. Why is it okay to assume though? Doesn't anyone here understand what I mean? Adults and kids have even less in common. Does everyone feel it is appropriate for a child to ignore an adult who says hi to them because of this?

 

Should I give up on the girl dd's age? Dd keeps attempting to play with her. Should I just keep it open until dd gives up on her own?

 

I appreciate the advice to ask my online homeschool group if anyone is interested in having a preschool group. If I talk with the owner of this group to make sure it's not a problem, would it be weird to mention this play group to others on our local Yahoo homeschool group and to say I am hoping to get more people with young kids to attend?

 

I do really appreciate everyone helping me think through this. I don't really have anyone else to ask, and this is clearly uncharted territory for me. If I wasn't such an introvert (who wishes she was an extrovert, so NOT happy to just sit alone!), this really wouldn't be such a big deal. The time, location, mission, feel, and values of the group are exactly what I"m looking for (and I've been looking at groups for months now), so it's very hard to just abandon it.

 

ETA: Actually, I did already ask the Yahoo group if anyone was interested in social interactions with a 2 1/2 year old. I got zero replies. :(

Edited by RaeAnne
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At age 2, 3 & sometimes even 4; many kids parallel play. They will interact a little here and there, but they won't have conversations or play for extensive amount of times. I have 3 kids; 2, 4 & 6. Our HS group is big. At park day there are many kids of all ages from newborn up. My daughter will be 3 next month. My 2 & 4 YO both kind of parallel play at the park days. There are tons of people there. Maybe 20 families. So maybe the girl that you want to play with your daughter is more of a parallel play type girl right now. Coming out of that stage makes a big difference. If the other girl doesn't have siblings, it could make a difference. My kids definitely interact with each other very well and are very social with each other, but park days where there are lots of people all over, it's a different story for the younger ones. :)

 

I don't really expect my younger 2 to make friends right now. It's more for me and my 6YO. ;)

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The advantage of hanging out with this group, even though your dd is younger, is that you will learn a lot from talking to the other moms. If you're serious about homeschooling, it will help a lot to hang with moms who already have some hsing experience. So, as long as your dd isn't hating the experience, and as long as the other mothers are welcoming to you, I'd continue to go.

 

That said, you might want to find a playgroup that is more for your dd than for you, *in addition* to this group, which is mainly for you.

 

You are still very new to this group. Often, in groups as open as it sounds like this one is, you'll see new people quite frequently, but they may only come a few times. So folks learn not to get to invested in any particular new person, because they may not stick around. The kids at your church have known your dd since she was a babe-in-arms, I'm guessing, but she's new to these kids, and it will take a while for them to include her. Plus, of course, she's only two, so she can't play the same way they do, at least not consistently. I'm also guessing that the other kids your dd's age are younger sibs. In a homeschooling family, a lot of things are driven by the needs of the older children, and the little 'uns are just along for the ride. I don't know how to explain this exactly, but the moms are probably more focused on what their older kids are doing, and less focused on their little 'uns practicing welcoming skills. They probably just haven't noticed who is or isn't playing with your dd, and/or have other priorities they're juggling.

 

If it's OK with the leaders of this group to seek out new people with younger kids to join the group, then go for it. Understand, though, that many families with 2 year olds either don't know yet what they'll be doing school-wise, or aren't savvy enough to network about it yet. Homeschooling families with 2 year olds and older kids aren't seeking out opportunities for their little 'uns to socialize, they're just taking them along to whatever the olders are doing. So you may find it hard to find anyone in your shoes.

 

Plus, if the group doesn't want to reach out to others with little'uns, please be respectful of that and glad they're including *you*. If this is a group where space is an issue, that is if you meet in people's homes or a limited-space public place, then they may want to focus on members who have older kids rather than filling it up with youngers.

 

You've said, "The time, location, mission, feel, and values of the group are exactly what I"m looking for (and I've been looking at groups for months now), so it's very hard to just abandon it." Frankly, playgroups for two year olds are mostly for the moms anyway - if you've found kindred spirits, enjoy the group unless your dd really hates it. I would stick with it, just know that it's for you more than for your dd - and that's OK.

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I do get where you're coming from, promise. I was there. I had a 2yo who acted, thought, and played like a 5yo - except the 5yo's didn't see it that way. That was incredibly hard to watch.

 

It wasn't that the 5yo's didn't like him, it was that they were 5 - and acting like it. I'm not saying that to be snarky, just to point out that thinking of others isn't always high up on most 5yo's lists (at least not to the point of including a 2yo they don't know in their playtime). It just plain doesn't cross their mind that they should do so, or why. To them, a 2yo is a "baby".

 

With the kids at church, they've known your daughter since she was born. They see her every week, they know what she can do, and they probably barely notice that she's two. (At that age, my son's best friend was an 11yo who asked if he could take him pretty much the moment we walked in the door lol...and by the time he was 3, he was organizing other preschoolers to "gang up" on jr. highers and "wrestle" them in the hall - and the jr. highers thought it was a hoot, so they played along.) At co op however, your daughter is very new, and they just plain haven't gotten a chance to get to know her yet. It'll take a little while.

 

One thing to understand, if your daughter is as gifted as she sounds, she's emotionally almost three but academically and perceptively closer to 5 or 6. That's a HUGE leap. I know it doesn't seem like it, but those two ages are whole different worlds. Other kids, kids who don't know her, may need a little grace in learning how to be her friend - simply because she doesn't think or play in the same way they do. Not that she can't fit in with them or anything, but that she's ready for way more than they are. Again, I know whereof I speak ;) This isn't something that you can blame on those kids, nor can you put it in your daughter's lap...it's no one's "fault". It just plain is. It does even out as the child gets older, but you'll likely notice a few phases where she wants to hang out with older kids, but can't find many places where she's allowed to because everything's so grade oriented. It's easier in hs circles, much easier, but there are still times when it's an issue.

 

I would really say to stay with the group, to learn what you can from the other moms and develop relationships, and let your daughter navigate the waters a bit. There will be times you may have to explain the actions of another child to her, and it may take time to develop relationships like she's found at church, but it sounds like a good group. Given time, it could be exactly what both you and she need.

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Gently...Two is not school age. These bigger 'school age' kids are going to seem rough to you because your dd is a baby. When my hsers were two, our little friends were mostly from La Leche League...and many of those children became homeschoolers.

 

 

Other places we found little friends:

Library

Waldorf playgroup at a Waldorf school

Music Together

Hanging at the little kid area of the playground

Mommy & Me yoga, swimming etc at the Y

 

:iagree: Most of my longest-term hsing friends I met at La Leche League and the Waldorf playgroup at the Waldorf School. The LLL spun off an AP playgroup, and virtually everyone turned into homeschoolers. By the time they were around 4 we'd put together our own Waldorf-inspired preschool coop - but at 2 we were still playgroup oriented.

 

Maybe advertise an AP playgroup that meets at the playground? Put flyers up at the aforementioned locations. The type attracted to something like that often tend to be future homeschoolers, and then you'd have kids your dd's age to play with.

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You are calling this a co-op, but is it more like a "playdate?" If it is a co-op, I would definitely not continue with it. My 11 and 7 year olds would think your dd is a "cute little baby" and move on. They go to co-op to take classes and be around homeschooled peers. While you could get lucky and meet the siblings of older kids, often times, the homeschool moms will drop off older kids at co-op so they can have one-on one-time with the youngers. In that situation, the siblings who are your dd's age (and the moms who would be your friends-to-be) may not even make an appearance outside of the car!

 

You also have to realize that church is a whole 'nother story. Most of the time, the kids have grown up together and the parents know each other. At my church, we have so few babies, that when a new one comes along, all the kids flock to it. The youth age kids always want to babysit or sit in the floor and play with the baby. The older kids tend to want to "teach" the little ones things. It all works. But co-op (coming from a homeschool mom with two older kids) is more for classes and time for older kids to spend with peers.

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