Friday, October 19, 2012

A Montessori Approach to Parent Night: Tips For Community Building and Sharing Curriculum

NAMC montessori parent night guide teacher mother child
Montessori teachers are not used to standing up in front of a group and lecturing. Yet, often that is exactly what we find ourselves doing at back-to-school or parent night. But if we really wanted to give parents a taste of our Montessori environment, we would run our parent nights just as we do our classroom.

Build Community Through Modeling and Involvement

First, greet parents at the door just as you do your students. Shake their hand, look them in the eye, and tell them how happy you are that they could join you. This sets the mood for your evening and gives you an instant connection with your parents.

When your parents walk through the door, immediately involve them in getting to work, just as their children do when they come to school. Near the door, post an invitation to a specified work:

A Montessori Approach to Parent Night: Tips For Community Building and Sharing Curriculum

NAMC montessori parent night guide teacher sign

After all your parents have arrived, invite them to join you at circle. Encourage parents to share what they have written, while you share self-portraits the children have made. You could also share what the children have said to describe themselves.

Show and Tell: Philosophy and Curriculum

Now that you have established community, you can begin your presentation. In general, you may want to discuss:
  • The Montessori philosophy and approach to education
  • The importance of following the child
  • The Montessori curriculum
  • Planned going-out trips
  • Classroom procedures, including pick up, drop off, and birthday celebrations
  • Ways parents can volunteer
Rather than lecturing to parents, find ways to show them how the classroom works. Use video to show their children at work, at a lesson, and at play so parents can actually see their children in action. Showing how a Montessori lesson is given is much easier than trying to explain it!

You also can video individual children talking about their Montessori classroom. Before recording them, work with the children to script what you would like them to talk about.
These topics may include:
  • How we choose our work
  • The complete work cycle
  • My favorite material is…(with a demonstration, of course!)
  • The Peace Corner
  • Why we use Grace and Courtesy
Older children can practice gathering video footage around the classroom. Children, too, can be involved in the editing process. Using iMovie or Vimeo will provide a high-quality video that can be shared with the parents.

Concluding Your Evening

Leave time at the end of your evening to have a quick question and answer forum. This is not the time to answer questions that are better discussed in a parent conference. Questions such as, “How is my child doing?” can easily be redirected by telling parents that you appreciate their concern and you would be happy to set up a time to meet with them individually.

As parents leave, be sure to have areas where they can sign up to volunteer. You may wish to read NAMC’s blog on parent volunteers beforehand! Later that night, send an email to all parents thanking them for coming. You may even wish to provide a brief survey or evaluation form to use in future planning.
Parent nights should mirror that which the child experiences in your Montessori environment. With some careful planning and preparation, you can build community and involve parents while leaving a lasting impression on the families which you serve.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, October 19, 2012.


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