At the first Class One meeting, parents were grouped in pairs and given a picture of the other family’s child. On the back of the photo, there were three words the parents used to describe their daughter or son. While in pairs, parents talked, in turn, about why they chose these words. Then the parents took the picture of the other family’s child home and were asked to put the photo in a prominent place and think of that child, hold them in the light, in the coming year.
It is this type of community building, empathy building, and mutual understanding that makes a Waldorf community and classroom like no other in education today. Ideally, the children, teacher and parents will be together through elementary school for eight years. Throughout those years, there will be many celebrations and some challenges, but regular class meetings help parents come together and remember the common cause that brought them into each others’ lives — the education, care and love of the children.
Having class meetings several times per year is also pragmatic. While teacher/parent conferences focus on one child and his/her social and academic progress, class meetings can deal with class learning goals and social dynamics. Understanding what the children are learning when and why, can help parents relate to a child who often reports that a day was, “fine.” And knowing the ins and outs of academics helps parents assist children in their homework tasks or in areas that need attention.
Class meetings also give parents ample opportunities to ask questions of the teacher and also to share their experiences with other families. Often parents find that their peers have the same questions, struggles and successes with their own children. It is so good to know your experiences are not yours alone!
And finally, coming together builds the parent community as families get to know one another over the years, not just through their children, but by relating to one another at these meetings and through volunteer opportunities and social engagements.
Class meetings are an essential part of a Waldorf education and a gift to the Waldorf community.