Date: Thursdays throughout the year.
Time: Late morning through afternoon – typically starting about 12ish, and finishing whenever the last few people decide it’s time to go. If it doesn’t rain, some people are usually at the park till at least 3pm.
Venue: Various green parks around the Nottingham area, especially the ones with good playgrounds, good public transport and toilets.
Age range: All ages welcome. There are plenty of “regulars” in the 1 to 7 age range and several around 8 to 12. Presence of teens is a bit more random – maybe ask first who’s coming, or look out for one of the “teens-ish meetups” instead.
Price: Free. (Exception: if it’s the cold part of winter, then we might decide to meet indoors a few times, and people would chip in a quid or two to pay for the space.)
Organisation: To get announcements of the week’s meeting point without being on Facebook, join the EMHE email list. Or if you prefer Facebook, join the Home Ed Free Play Facebook group. There isn’t one organiser responsible for these meetups – it’s more of an evolving tradition, with suggestions of “how about ____ next week?”
Booking: No need to book. However, if it’s at a park big enough to have different areas, and you don’t have a phone number for someone else there that day, it’s worth turning up within an hour or so of the start. That way, it doesn’t matter if people move on from the original meeting point after a while.
What to bring: Water bottles and snacks, plus sun hats, sun cream and/or umbrella! People often bring picnic food, and a blanket to sit on. Parents may want an extra jumper, in case it turns out the children don’t want to stop playing as the day cools down.
Access: Wheelchair access and toilet situation depends on the park. The Forest and Wollaton Park each have a “Changing Places” toilet. If you have a favourite park which you know works well for your family, feel free to suggest it.
What to expect if you’re new, and tips:
- There might be a dozen families that week… or there might be more, or fewer.
- Where you see parents sitting around or standing around, come and say hello. We’re a friendly bunch. If in doubt whether it’s us, just ask “Home ed free play?”
- Some children run off straight away to play. Some take a while to settle in, and join in more as the time goes on. Some children stay close to their parents, e.g. if it’s their first time at this group, or they were tired that day, or if they’re just enjoying the conversation with the nearby adults. It’s fine for each child to socialise as much or as little as they want to.
- If your child wants to join in with something but feels shy getting started, you’re welcome to ask around, to find a child who’s happy to include them and introduce them to others.
- If you’re bringing a teenager who specially wants to meet other people their age, it’s worth checking beforehand whether it’s a week when other teens are planning to go. Other than that, don’t worry too much about whether there’ll be other children the same age and same gender. Compared to school, home ed socialising typically has a lot more mixing across ages.