I remember when I joined my first local homeschool Yahoo group, a veteran mom wrote an email giving advice to new moms who were just getting started. She said, if there is something you want for your children but it doesn’t exist, start it yourself! She said that chances are, others will be looking for something just like you and will happily join in. She could not have been more right!
When I found the Wild + Free Instagram page and began listening to their podcasts and subscribing to their monthly bundles, I knew right away this movement was going to have a huge impact on how we homeschool. Their motto reads, “Our desire is to give our children a quality education but also to preserve the adventure, freedom and wonder of childhood.” I thought to myself, yes, please! Sign me up for that.
So I began to think of how great it would be to meet other Wild + Free mamas. Not so surprisingly, there was no group in NYC.
Soon thereafter a thread popped up on our neighborhood Yahoo board about a mom looking for alternative options to Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) for her daughter. Now, in NYC, UPK is FREE full-day pre-k. Very, very few people pass on this opportunity. At this point, I had only met a handful of moms who were saying no to pre-k and who were questioning why three and four year olds should be in school six hours a day. So I took a deep breath and replied that we too, were passing on UPK and I had this idea of setting up a Wild + Free group. Guess what? So many other mothers wrote back that they were interested!
And so it began, in the spring of 2017, NYC’s first Wild + Free group. We meet once a week and the kids have free, unstructured play outside in nature. My kids have made some really great friends this way! And so have I!
This Wild + Free group is another opportunity for my kids to engage in mixed age play, something often missing from a traditional school experience. The older kids have each other to explore with and also have the opportunity to not only be role models for the younger kids but also to help them take off their shoes, fill up their water bottles and give them a boost up a tree. Everyone in the group is fully included and valued, no matter how they join in. We often stay and play together for about 4 hours.
It has become such an important part of our week. This group has helped me feel much less isolated as a homeschooling mom. Currently, there are 63 families on the email distribution list. No, 63 families do not join us each week. But still, it’s comforting to know these other families exist and that we are not alone in our quest for alternative education options.
Do you have a Wild + Free group near you? Are you familiar with the Wild + Free movement? Anyone going to the conference in September? I am! I’d love to hear from you in the comments.