Having A Successful Homeschooling Group Experience

I don’t know as I have much advice in this area as the homeschooling group that I helped   found closed this past spring. This group lasted six years and it was a gratifying experience in that it led to some wonderful mothers connecting to each other and some of the children finding wonderful friends.  So, I guess in that sense, it was very successful.

From experiencing the life cycle of a group,  which really is similar to the life cycle of almost any group, here are my suggestions for you to think about if you are in the process of forming or growing a Waldorf homeschooling group:

  • Consider limiting the geographic area or size of the group for a more intimate experience.  Some Waldorf groups I have seen across the country are even limited by gender and age.
  • If your group is spread out geographically, you may wish to form separate geographic groups that connect for significant events or sister groups.  Driving long distances with small children, as we all know, can limit families’ abilities to participate in things and also limits families forming a  social, close-knit community outside of homeschool group events.
  • Consider how the basis of your group can be adult education.  How adults  understand the why’s behind the Waldorf curriculum and how they bring this at home and strive to really bring the curriculum within its entirety can be very important for the health of the group.  At a Waldorf School, the teachers are the faculty that  hold things for the children.  In a homeschooling group, the parents serve this function.   What will this look like, and how will this feel?
  • If you are starting a group from scratch, you might consider having the adults read “Organizational Integrity” by Torin Finser and working off of that before you begin.
  • How do you feel about Waldorf parenting (as opposed to the Waldorf curriculum) – how will  the parenting decisions by individual families affect the group?   Are families on the same page as far as lifestyle and parenting choices?  Media can be a large one to look at carefully.
  • How would your policies for communication work?  How do you make the group a safe and loving place but also a place of stability?  How easy would it be for your group to be split by people who feel negatively toward either the group, or members of the group or teachers who are teaching for the group?  How would your policies for this work?  What would you do?
  • How open do you want to be?  Do you want to include all families remotely interested in Waldorf education, those who are Waldorf inspired (and how is that defined?), do you want to include families exploring this path, or do you want to have a group that is for families who are already solidly on this path of Waldorf homeschooling? One thing that comes up frequently with these groups is “how Waldorf do you have to be?”  How would you answer that question for your group?
  • What will you be offering?  Will it be solely play dates or park dates or festivals or field trips?  How will you handle classes if you offer that?  I actually think classes are far more trouble than they are worth in many ways, so I advise thinking carefully about offering classes.
  • What will you do about leadership?  About distribution of work?  About handling complaints?
  • What will do about money?  Do you want to have dues or not have dues and why?
  • Is this going to bring fun and joy into the lives of the children and all of their families?  Can all of the families involved work for the good of the community and the children?  What do people gain by being part of a group?  Further and further into my own homeschool journey, I feel I need a group less and less.  So how you feel, and how the families you are involved with truly feel about the endeavor of being a formal group is important.  What are the benefits of being a formal group?

Food for thought.

Peace,

Carrie

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7 thoughts on “Having A Successful Homeschooling Group Experience

  1. Your advice is spot-on. I co-founded a group that has become very large, and I have since outgrown the need for it. It’s funny because the friends whom my children play with the most were met outside of the group’s membership. But they can be very helpful support for those just starting out.

  2. Thank you so much for your post Carrie. I also founded a Waldorf home school co-op, which started a year ago this fall. We currently have 6 families, including 14 children. This seems to be a good number of families, more than 7 or 8 families would be too large. We come together once a week for social time for the children, circle time, story time, and celebrating a festivals together. We try to keep it simple, but it still takes a lot of time and energy.

    Our group has definitely been challenging, in many of the ways you described, but also extremely rewarding. We have, out of necessity, had to very clearly define our core values. This has been one of our most difficult issues. One of our core values that has been the most difficult is differing spiritual practices when we come together as a group. We have defined these values a few times already, and are still fine-tuning them more. It is so incredibly important that everyone feel comfortable with practices that happen within group time. As we all know, communication is also a very important aspect of a healthy group. It has been hard at times to communicate as well as we should, simply because everyone has such limited time, with the fullness of family life.

    Although it is very important to share core values, it is also very important to feel trusting and loving towards the families involved.

    All in all, I have never had an experience where I have grown so much. It has been incredibly rewarding. The children (and adults) have formed deep and lasting friendships, and actually seem like a tribe. It has been so beautiful and worth while for my whole family.

    • Rebecca,
      This is interesting, because at its height I think our group had 37 families and you are describing challenges with even only six or seven families in communication and defining core values. I think as homeschoolers we tend to be a very independent lot for the most part (!), and it can be hard to form a community and compromise or to define a scope that is more “narrow” than what we think we are at home. However, I think if families can accept that this is the place for Waldorf homeschooling, and not other scopes, causes, etc than it becomes easier. Just like we would not go to a doctor to fix our car (out of scope), the Waldorf homeschooling group should have a defined focus.

      Most Waldorf homeschooling groups follow a pretty set opening verse in a circle, closing group in a circle, blessing before meals, circle for the younger children, etc. These things can be found by observing Waldorf schools near you, and also in many of the Waldorf books. I am not sure what you mean by spiritual practices, but I think adult education is important because that helps families understand why things are done the way they are in a Waldorf group and how this is different than just any other homeschooling group.

      Blessings,
      Carrie

  3. Can you say how you “advertise/get the word out” about the Waldorf Homeschool group? There seems to be just 1 other Waldorf homeschooling family here and I was thinking to form a group. Was thinking to post a flyer at the Healthfood store? There may be others out there in this area, I just dont know them yet…

    • Shana,
      The best way I have found is to join the national lists. Sometimes folks will chime in where they are from. I believe both Christopherus Homeschool Resources and also The Waldorf Connection keep lists of where Waldorf homeschooling groups are by state or by country. You could check there. And yes, posting on your state’s homeschooling page (most states have one) also helps, along with flyers too. Get connected in with your state homeschool office’s listing of groups. That helps too.
      Blessings,
      Carrie

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