The Art of Hosting

hosting children at an AoH gathering - preparing for the Learning Village at Statenberg Manor in Slovenia, August/September 2012

For the upcoming Learning Village at Statenberg manor in Slovenia, a group of people is preparing the settings for hosting the children accompanying their parents to the gathering.

We are looking not only into the practicalities of play and rest space, enough materials for creative play, special food setups etc ... We are also and maybe even more looking into how to truly integrate the children in the gathering, as full participants according to their capacities and wishes.

If this speaks to you, please join the conversation.

It will for now be very practical in terms of what we need to bring to Statenberg, but we are definitely also looking for good practices from other gatherings.

How can needs of children and adults be honoured?

I am putting this conversation in the category of 'community of practice' because I prefer to see it as a gathering ground with practical application around the question of 'children at gatherings'.

update: on a 2nd thought, the conversation fits better into 'exciting new developments' - it is not linked to a location, and it is a truly exciting new development ;-)

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on a very practical note - for those coming to Statenberg or living nearby:

here a list of things to collect and bring with you, if you have a chance to do so, for upcycling crafts and other exciting activities:

old newspaper
yoghurt and other plastic cups
egg carton
empty food cans (if cut in a good way, like with the special can opener, so kids cannot hurt themselves)
old dresses and accessories for dress up
paper boxes and cartons

The plan is to pass on what we do not use to the local kindergarden!

Very good, Ulli. I just shared this on FB as well, with the following wording:

Dear friends and mates, anyone with experience hosting children at participatory gatherings is invited to contribute. As parents who are on the path of hosting their children into life rather than "educating" them, we have an integral approach to welcoming children to events. We are not looking to set up a "children's occupation programme", so they are "out of the way", but rather trying to see how to integrate the strengths of each generation and make them available to the whole, while tending to the needs of everyone. Thanks for contributions of well lived experience!

Hi Uli, just typing out Stefan's experience with a 'hosting a child' process at the Congress for Integral Politics 2012 in Austria at the beginning of the month.

Stefan will get it for proof-reading today and then I will post it here tomorrow evening...

How old are the kids?

I got a lot of useful experience working with young poeple (12 - 19)  as a facilitator to to help them express their views on decisions which are made about them,( by others ) . - Using alot of AoH type activities.  there is more to say of course. ....  I am interested to learn more about what you are planning with them.

hello Ruth, about 25 children toddler to teenager will be attending, as far as I know

we are mostly looking into how to include them into the process of circles and open space (and always having some extra activities on offer for those who rather not participate in all those conversations with the grown-ups ...)


oh very much looking forward!

I need to check again how many children there are now, and which age groups ... for us to be able to prepare well the different approaches


Frauke Godat said:

Hi Uli, just typing out Stefan's experience with a 'hosting a child' process at the Congress for Integral Politics 2012 in Austria at the beginning of the month.

Stefan will get it for proof-reading today and then I will post it here tomorrow evening...

Here is the harvest from the 'Congress for Integral Politics' in Austria

As a future elementary school teacher and caring human for our next generation I'm very proud of an explicit approach to hosting children. It doesn't require "childcare" where we already naturally "care" about children. It needs more than that. I would call it a 2nd generation kind of care where people (who we think are in need of some kind of care) are truly, deeply integrated with all their strenghtes, weaknesses, abilities, skills - in short "as a whole" - into human society. "Care" alone just means that people need to be taken care of with a "special" treatment. Why is there a segregation? We don't need it, not at all. Let them be part of the whole!
As Ursula has put her words wisely in a previous post: "...integrate the strengths of each generation and make them available to the whole..."

There are so many people out there who naturally care about children and just got confused about how to raise children in our 21st century. The children haven't changed at all, but the environment has. Growing control through outside powers results in a dulled and manipulated self...
Actually, to be happy, children (even everybody?) need nothing else but themselves! The older generation's "job" is to broaden children's horizons and not to maximize their pleasure. "Normal" children are eager to learn and watch ANYthing - put (a) sensitive, motivated, authentic adult(s) in front of children and they'll loyally follow and proudly lead you to the end of the world.

There is much more material in form of scientific facts, questions, believes, etc. to that topic and I'd really like to share all of it :)

I wish you all the best for Slovenia!

Version 2 with little additions from Stefan ;-)

Frauke Godat said:

Here is the harvest from the 'Congress for Integral Politics' in Austria

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good morning fellow parents and others who are stepping into the circle to host the children at Statenberg ;-)

To know who is coming and what they are bringing, you may want to check this list https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0As59GpZ1TODAdFo4dHN1OF...

For now, most recent count, we are looking in to hosting 11 kids aged 1 to7 years, 9 age 8 to 11, and 6 teenagers. I believe we can add one more child age 3.5 years ;-)

Below an attempt of an updated list of materials to bring/collect/buy/find! locally or at home:

* wallpaper glue (a lot!)

* big long paper roll (Marjeta from the local hosts confirmed there will be paper available, a long endless roll)

* wool and/or thread thick and strong

* gouache paint (the washable kind  ...)

* glue sticks

* liquid glue

* some balloons

* tooth picks,

* pottery materials (be it earth to be mixed with straw or real clay)

* brushes thick and thin

* something to fix things on walls/trees, ... (pins, tape, thread ...)

I believe we can also make do with a small library picture books, and stories to be read and shared, not just at bed time, but also during the day (there will be a resting space available for the children!)

I'm so happy to see the AoH community making space for parents and children at this gathering. And I'm so sorry that I can't be there with my 11 year old son and my partner, but hope to connect another time. 

"How to truly integrate children in our gatherings as full participants according to their capacities"? - I would start with asking

"What do we need to be able to develop in ourselves the capacity to trust that the children are there to host us and our process as much as we are them?"

hello and THANK YOU for all the insights, comments, and encouragement!

Tonight Waltraud and me are preparing an email to be sent out to all registered participants of the Learning Village - we will share it with you here as an example of how setting the scene for a gathering with 25 children.

Attached to this post please find an edited version of the harvest of a skype conversation a group of parents had with members of the hosting team, back in July. We have come a long way since then!

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