WINCHENDON — The Bethany Bible Chapel welcomes homeschooling families in the community to come to their first open house and field day on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at their main location on 272 Spring Street from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m.
Through The Caring Hearts counsel ministry at the BB chapel, several workshops and other church programs are produced to fulfill certain needs and lack of resources in the community. The Caring heart counsel collaborates with the Heywood Hospital to survey and collect data on what is lacking and where are resources needed in the community.
“We do look for opportunities where there’s a need that’s not currently being met,” Caring Hearts Director Heather Lafond said. “We do not want to duplicate the efforts that might already be happening through other organizations and we saw it as a great way to connect with the community and provide for tangible needs.”
Lafond found through the search collaboration that there is a lack of support and resources for families who homeschool their children in the Winchendon and Gardner communities. As a parent who homeschooled her three daughters, she saw this as an opportunity to create a place to give parents the resources and information they need while the children get to play and meet other homeschooling kids.
“The idea of the open house style is to be able to have information for not only families that are already homeschooled, but also for families that may be considering homeschooling,” Lafond said. “Since we have seen a shift in homeschooling and we just want to give families resources, support and information on how they get started.”
The open house and field day event is a place where parents can get information about homeschooling. It is also an event for the kids to meet other homeschooled kids and have a special day that they would be able to have in public school. While the parents are inside the kids will be doing several field day activities that are fun for all ages.
“We wanted to make it a little bit easier for the parents to attend and not have to try to figure out childcare,” Lafond said. “We’re looking at it as a fun way to kick off the summer and celebrate the end of the school year, sort of like how the public school has a big field day for the students.”
At the open house, there will be a few informative booths run by groups and organizations that focus on proving materials and other information on how to create a positive homeschool experience for both the student and the parent. For example, the Christian homeschool organization, Classical Conversation, specializes in helping parents to create a more traditional homeschool curriculum and program for their children.
“We also have some resources and information that is specific to Massachusetts laws and the requirements for how and what to teach children based on their grade level,” said Lafond “Some people might choose to do a different curriculum and we are also going to have information and videos from other potential types.”
Lafond said that one of their goals for this event is to inform the homeschooling community about the local resources they have in their towns so they can create a strong curriculum for their families.
“We want to let them know what is available locally that they are able to utilize as part of their homeschool like the Mass Audubon offers a lot of educational classes that are a great resource,” Lafond said. “Jaffrey Park and Recreation also offer different monthly programs that families can sign up to utilize for getting in their physical education requirements.”
One of the groups that will be there to hand out information and run a booth about their parent-run group is the Winchendon Homeschool Hangout group.
“The parents of this group do a phenomenal job of coordinating events, activities, field trips,” Lafond said. “An example of one of the activities they just coordinated was a gardening day that one of the moms created. She runs a homestead and she offered to do a gardening lesson for the kids.”
The kids are not the only ones who will have the opportunity to have fun. Lafond said there will be several fun activities from a video and board game section to a spa art and craft section for parents to take the time to relax after a long school year and to get to know the homeschool family community.
“We also added in a rejuvenation station because we thought it would be a nice way of ending the school year for the parents because moms and dads have been doing a lot of the work that goes into homeschooling,” Lafond said. “We are going to have a few different rooms that the parents can sign up for which are a craft section, sign up for the game area, or the pamper yourself room. We are also going to a refreshment area inside because we want to encourage parents to connect with each other.”
Lafond stated that there is no RSVP list or cost for this event. The event is open to everyone in the community who is interested in learning more about homeschooling programs and connecting with others community members.
“We do want families in the other communities other than Winchendon to know they are welcome to attend. We would love to have them,” Lafond said. “One last thing, I do want to let parents know that the kids will get wet! They need a towel or a change of clothes because some of the activities are meant to get wet.”