Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What is 4-H?

OK, I've had more than a few comments lately asking about 4-H and what it is. I admit, it is starting to take over our lives, lol, so let me explain a little.

4-H did start out as an agricultural thingamajingy - yes, that's the technical term ;) - but as modern communities started moving away from the country and into the cities, 4-H started changing their focus from agriculture to community. The four H's stand for head, heart, hands, and health. The pledge surrounds these things which are the heart of a worthwhile life: I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

While there are agricultural projects available to participate in at the county level, the main focus of 4-H is to learn by doing. There are all sorts of random categories into which you can fit your project (project= group activity totaling at least 6 hours of time in which the kids learn something), but basically a project can be anything of interest. Right now, Cameron is in Arts & Crafts, Hiking, and LEGO Engineering. Our club also has projects on Carnivorous Plants, Cooking, Polymer Clay, Geocaching, and Digital Photography.

Our club is unique though because it is comprised solely of homeschoolers. Because of that, we tend to do things a little differently. Our meetings are during the day instead of afterschool. Our projects tend to be more hands on and less schoolish. The organization does publish curricula but we generally choose not to use it. We also have a lot more parental involvement than some of the other clubs. A friend of mine went to a project from another club in our county and was sorely disappointed because all they did, she said, was sit and read to the kids from a book. LOL. There were all these "optional activites" listed in the book, but the project leader told her that those were for them to do on their own. I guess they just didn't have the kind of parental involvement necessary to do a lot of extras.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that at one point I was attempting to get a pre-schooler's co-op going. My attempts got me nothing except a couple of good friends, but I've discovered that 4-H is the co-op that I had been searching for. Next year I'm going to lead a project on Ancient Technologies to coincide with our Ancient History studies. Why? Because I can. ;) One of the leaders even said that she has a friend who could give a demonstration on fire making for us! I may even do a cooking one for younger kids - the current one is for ages 8 and up. There are lots of opportunities for the taking.

Speaking of opportunities, and the other reason that 4-H is such a great thing for homeschoolers, is that the meetings are completely member led. The kids run the meeting, give the reports, can lead the projects, etc. They get practice in leading, following, giving speeches and reports, sitting still (lol, yeah right), and respecting others. All the group/public issues that homeschoolers may be lacking in can be addressed. There are also optional record books which (besides giving practice in reporting) can be used as part of your child's transcripts.

OK, have I gushed enough? I can't believe I ever doubted joining, lol. I hope I have cleared up a few questions and haven't just confused you all more. ;) Here's the state's info page - it's pretty vague. I think the best quote I've heard is that 4-H is what you make of it. If you're active and involved it is a wonderfully enriching experience. :)


~Mary~ 4boys4me said...

I was in 4-H in grade school. They had some interesting projects but it was pretty much "do at home." It was run by the school and parents weren't involved at the meetings. They were so huge that any really fun stuff would have been chaotic. Another reason to love homeschooling.

G said...

I really used to think that 4-H was just about animals... I am quickly learning otherwise! I too like the fact that it's the kids in the group running the group.

Pixilated Mum said...

I always thought:
4-H = horses and growing corn or something like that

LOL Thanks for all the details. I loved reading about it. And it was inspiring, the whole joining-a-group thing. ;-)

The Cassia/Cassia thing sounds adorable to me. And don't call your entries boring because I find them interesting and if they ARE boring and I don't know it, then I'm boring. LOL Follow?

I love reading about your school days/daze. So happy for an update.

Peace and love,

p.s. Ancient Technologies, eh? Are we talking about Apple's Lisa or, like, stones rubbed together?

Meesh said...

Cool- thanks for all the info- it is far more than I ever thought it was. I am going to see what our local 4h looks like and if there is a homeschool contingent- I dread after school timed programs though as my kids are getting older I am seeing that I will have to start giving in.