Winterims give high school students and teachers a focused opportunity to learn about a new subject, while learning to be independent and taking responsibility for their own goals. How, you might wonder, do students and teachers choose the subject of Winterim? This question is both the blessing and curse of Winterim. The subject can be whatever the students and teachers dream up and can figure out how to do. Because it depends on the desires and imaginations of students and teachers, it never stays the same.
And it often happens at the last possible minute.
That lack of regularity leads to frustration every year for parents and families of students. Parents understandably want to know the rules, what obligations are required of them, of their son/daughter, and very importantly…
- “How much it will cost?”
- “How much time it will take?”
Parents often ask their students these questions and get as an answer—a blank stare, a shrug of shoulders, or if their son or daughter is feeling especially talkative, “I don’t know, they never say.” Here is what is really going on at the school from the beginning of the school year up until the actual Winterim.
Winterims get created out of the imaginations of some students and teachers. This process changes all the time. Not every student wants to actively create a Winterim, not every teacher wants to take on an elaborate trip. The ones that do get together and hatch some plans.
Students start with choosing which Winterims they want to participate in. Parents have every right to disagree with these choices. If you don’t like the Winterim your son or daughter has chosen, don’t sign the permission slip. There are always other Winterims available.
Different Winterims have different participation requirements.
Expensive Winterims require a huge commitment for each student and teacher participant, smaller trips less, and onsite Winterims are pretty simple affairs. All of this is explained in great detail to the students before they sign up for a particular Winterim.
Winterims are the responsibility of the students to make happen. This is especially true of the more expensive Winterims. This should be their choice and their financial responsibility, not yours.
If a Winterim costs more than $50 per student, the students are required to raise 75% of the expenses. This ensures that students work to provide what they want and that you (their families) are not put in the position of having to pay for their expensive adventures. How students work together to afford the Winterim is as important as the Winterim itself. This really is the most important aspect of a Winterim.
Any money your group collects to fund a Winterim will be handled by the school using proper procedures. Parents don’t collect and keep money at all. Students don’t keep money-they turn it into the office immediately after an event.
Learning From Winterims
The educational process looks something like this:
- Students and teachers create a Winterim possibility
- Students and teachers come up with a plan
- Students take responsibility for earning the money, planning the trip, etc.
- Things happen (as they always do in life)…
- Students readjust their plans, take into account how hard it is to raise money, maybe change Winterims because they decide it is too much work, and come up with a revised plan.
- Students take responsibility for the new plan
- This continues right up until the moment the Winterim starts…
What Can You Do to Help?
Encourage your student to consider the cost of the choice they are making. How much time it will take, how much work will it require, whether that Winterim is worth the cost.
Decide if the cost is worth it to your family. You have important choices here too. If you don’t think your son or daughter has the time to meet the obligations of the trip, don’t sign the permission slip.
Don’t let your student give you the responsibility for their trip. You can and should help them raise funds and plan activities. However, always remember how important it is that the student be in charge, taking care of things, making things happen, not just following your orders.
This means that things may not be done as neatly, and in fact, will often look like events run by children! This is how they learn. If you do all the work for your son or daughter you take away the most important part of the Winterim process.
If you are good at planning things, that’s great! Bring your expertise to the whole group as an advisor. If you have good ideas the students will want to hear them. Then work with the whole group to help them plan an event, then let them take it over and be in charge.
Ask questions. If you don’t understand why a group is doing something and your student can’t answer your questions, ask the teacher or other parents around the school about past Winterims.
Always remember that the point of a Winterim is not the trip, but the educational process that leads to it. The Grove School tries to teach your sons and daughters to be independent and responsible for their own goals.