Homeschool group meets weekly at the H.  Odell Weeks playground

Every Thursday members of the Home School Play Group meet at the playground at H. Odell Weeks. Pictured: Chris, David and Alex McKeel, Allison, Elizabeth, Victoria and Andy LaBorde, Teresa and Brandon Jara, Cathie, Jeffery and Aaralynne Botts and Samantha, Hannah and Christian Grove.

Every Thursday starting at noon, the playground at H. Odell Weeks Activities Center comes alive with activity. As word spreads about the newly formed group, the numbers of parents and children has steadily grown. In September of last year, several mothers seeking activities for their homeschool programs accidently met on the Aiken Homeschool Times website. At the time, the site wasn't very active; however, a few mothers decided to take matters into their own hands and set up a weekly meeting. The result was the Aiken Homeschool Times Playgroup. The core group is about seven children with as many as 20 visiting, depending on schedules, and ages range from babies to 12 years old; however, the group is open to all ages. "It is so important for the kids to have free time and to socialize. This is an unstructured recess time for them," said Allison LaBorde as she kept an eye on her three children ranging in age from 18 months to 6 years old. The playgroup not only offers the children a time to make new friends and play, it also serves as a valuable meeting time for the parents. Homeschool programs present challenges to the instructors, and the meeting offers an opportunity for discussion. Each parent offers a different reason for homeschooling their children and takes a slightly different approach. For Chris McKeel and her two sons, the plan is perfect. "My oldest son was very unhappy at public schools and kept asking me when he was in the second grade to homeschool him," she said. She has observed an increased interest in learning from her sons and a rise in their knowledge. "I know they get it because they have to talk directly to me, so I know before a test, I know right then whether he has learned the material or not," she said. Teresa Jara found herself in a similar situation when her son expressed growing dissatisfaction with public school and asked her to homeschool. "He wasn't happy, and there were too many distractions so he couldn't pay attention," said Jara. "We decided to take control of his future." For more information, e-mail AikenHSTimes@Yahoogroups.com or call Chris at 648-7042.