Free Play park meetup, all ages, various Nottingham parks, Thursdays

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.

Against a background of woodland, the words "Home Ed Free Play / All ages park meetups / Nottingham area".

Fun Club, Stapleford, first Tuesday in the month

Fun Club is the main regular meet up of East Midlands Christian Home Educators Group. “Membership is open to all who are willing to respect the aims of the group and its Christian ethos.”

Date: First Tuesday in the month. No formal meeting in August, although a “park meet” is usually planned.

Time: 10am to 2pm, inc lunch break.

Area: Stapleford, west of Nottingham, close to the A52. (Exact venue intentionally not listed here.)

Age range: “An all age family event, with an upper age range of about 13 years in terms of activities planned but all are welcome. (Young people must be accompanied by an adult who remains responsible for them.)”

Price: First visit free, then membership subscription if you decide you want to join. Annual subscription is currently £40 per year per family, paid as two instalments of £20 – or check the membership details page for any updates.

Booking: Send email to express an interest. There may be a waiting list. When there’s space, you’ll be invited to visit.

Email: tuesdayfunclub at gmail dot com.

Web site: East Midlands Christian Home Educators main web site.

A group of about 20 children aged perhaps 3 to 13 stand in a circle in a large, bright room, holding the edges of a huge piece of fabric which fills the middle of the circle (possibly a parachute).  The fabric is slightly off the ground and is light coloured.  The children on the far side of the circle are facing the camera;  those nearer to the camera are facing away from it.  From the way the children are looking across at each other, it seems like something's about to happen - perhaps they're about to whoosh the fabric up into the air and some of them will run underneath.  On the left, also with their backs to the camera, an adult with long hair carries a small child and both are watching what's happening.

A monthly “hall meet” with a variety of activities planned by members through the year to meet the needs of the age range. Sometimes a “main” activity altogether, maybe with an outside provider (eg: mobile planetarium). Other times a variety of different activities, perhaps around a theme, run by members of the group. Usually start with a games session (2 age groups). Bring a picnic for lunch which we eat together. Afternoon tends to be more of a free play/self directed activities time – and a chat/cup of tea time for parents/carers! Christmas and Easter are celebrated. In summer we have a Sports Day at a local park.

More info here about a typical Tuesday meetup.

Travel info:

Easy access from A52 and M1.

On the i4 bus route from Nottingham and Derby.
On My15 bus route from Long Eaton/Ilkeston.

1/2 hour walk from the Toton Lane Tram Stop/park and ride.

Parking is unfortunately tricky: Best to examine google maps and look for possible “on-street” parking in the vicinity. A small amount of long stay parking in the council car parks – pay and display.

Access info:

The building is accessible on the ground floor where most activities take place. There is no lift to the upstairs rooms. The toilet for those with extra needs is a little small.

When everyone attends the group it is very “busy” and can be quite noisy: walking straight in could be quite daunting.

However we are very flexible and have ways of providing quiet spaces and alternative activities for children who need them.