Kids Don't Need Socialization, Kids Need Belonging

Teaching always has been, and I hope will always remain, an intensely human endeavor. We become what we teach and we teach what we are.
— Practical Advice to Teachers, Rudolf Steiner

Across the United States families are planning summer activities and travel, but for many like me, their mind is pointed towards next fall and contemplating homeschooling their children. They search online in groups asking strangers questions and hoping to find the answer to their own very personal query.

  • Should we homeschool?
  • Can I homeschool my kids and work?
  • Can I really teach my own kids?
  • Is homeschooling better for my sensitive child?
  • Will my children have friends?
  • Will they belong?
  • Will I?

Those last questions were on my mind as I spoke to a friend a couple of weeks ago. As working mothers who direct their children’s education, we did not come to homeschooling from a calling per se, but instead because we wanted our children to be able to follow their individual needs. As we spoke about summer travel plans of camps and activities, our conversation turned to one about belonging. Before we knew it, we were asking how do we help our children find their tribe? How do we help them know they belong? How do we? Is that important?

Parents who homeschool are fiercely independent, otherwise, we would not ever consider this as an option. As women with work we love, we also feel the tug of doubt. The little voice that says 'sure they are academically strong, good humans, and creative beings' but what about community and friendships, do they belong?

We did not realize that was the question we were trying to answer, with our cooperative learning days and classes, but there it is right out in the open. How can we help our children feel a part of a community?

Next fall will be our third homeschooling year and fourth grade for our sons. I remember being a teacher and looking forward to that last day of school, but as a homeschooling parent, I am looking for guidance as the boys change and so do their educational needs for the coming year. I am also looking for a place for our family to belong.

To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.
— Simone Weil

It gave me peace of mind to look forward to planning another homeschool year. School as a Journey, An Eight-Year Odyssey of a Waldorf Teacher by Torin M. Finser is a well-loved book by many Waldorf teachers, but as a parent directing our children’s education, I find that it answers many questions. We get a rare look from a Waldorf class teacher as the author shares his innermost thoughts as he too contemplates teaching from year to year. As a parent and a teacher, it inspires me into another year of watching my children grow and learn.

He talks about playing games with the children, and memories of long games of kick the can with neighborhood kids ran through my mind. That one friend at the end of my street was my first and lasting friend. All of these years later, we still check in from time to time by phone and meet for coffee when I visit my family.

In School as a Journey, Torin Finser walks you through his journey as a Waldorf class teacher, but more importantly for me, I start to see how being a Waldorf parent is a place to belong for me and my children. It allows you to see education as a meaningful path of development for your family rather than a list of things to learn. It is a community where you belong.

This first-hand account is part practical advice and inspiration from one educator to another, while he worked to provide teaching that would help children grow intellectually but also grow their inner life through creative teaching. The practice that Waldorf teacher’s stay with their class for eight years is a way to witness the inner and outer changes in human development. It also provides children with a sense of belonging.

They entered the room with greater certainty and confidence, assured of a place in the world.
— Torin M. Finser, School as a Journey

The book provides actionable suggestions with a chapter on each grade level that gives the reader an overview of the goals and content of each year. It also shares the why of the content that is missing in so many books about teaching. This book helped me dive into another season of planning while I watch the two people in the world that my husband and I love most deeply bloom, change, and discover who they are and that yes, they do belong.

School as a Journey, an Eight Year Odyssey, by Torin M. Finser, is available from Steiner Books. It is a book, you will go back to from year to year in your Waldorf homeschool journey, to find your common ground and inspire you into another year of discovery. Get your copy from Steiner Books today.