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.