In an earlier blog (The Importance of Educating the Montessori Parent, January 13, 2008), I wrote that “Educating parents, both current and future, about Montessori education is a win-win situation”. There is so much more to Parent Education than orientation and back-to-school nights, and this as well as future blogs are being written to provide Montessori teachers and administrators some shared ideas and guidance for communicating and working with parents.
There are basically six modes of parent education:
- Community Building
- Parent Education Sessions
Take an in-depth look at how you can work within each of these modes to strengthen your Montessori community and communicate more effectively with parents at your school.
Parent Education Beyond Orientation: Tips for Teachers - Montessori Community
Introductory OpportunitiesMontessori Parent Education begins as soon as a prospective parent makes contact with your school, usually in the form of a phone call or email inquiry. Parents are given the basic information about the school including a brief explanation of the Montessori philosophy and perhaps the mission statement of the school. They are then invited to attend an informational open house and take a school tour. There, they are given your Montessori school literature and information on the enrollment process.
Orientation MeetingsThe purpose of these meetings is to share information and orient parents to your Montessori school’s policies. This is especially helpful for parents who are new to your Montessori school.
Back-to-School NightOn this night, the Montessori teachers in each classroom give an example of a ‘typical day’ in their Montessori classroom. There is usually a tour of the room, explaining the different work areas. Elementary Montessori teachers also use this time to discuss their homework policies (if there is a homework expectation). Most importantly, parents will learn the best way to contact the teacher if there are any questions or concerns.
Community Building EventsBuilding your Montessori Community helps develop school identity and loyalty. Activities for the whole family create a family-friendly environment. There is a wide variety of community building and service efforts to improve the overall experience of families who are a part of your school community:
- Classroom events (such as Spring Tea for parents/family)
- Whole school socials: picnic, ice cream social, square-dance, talent show, pajama story-night movie night
- Book clubs (Read books on Montessori philosophy, positive discipline, parenting strategies, etc).
- New parent dinner or gathering
- Father’s Day luncheon
- Grandparent’s Day luncheon
- Mother’s Day luncheon
- School-wide yard sale
- School-ground fall clean-up
- Building new playgrounds
- Spring planting opportunities
Parent VolunteersParents who volunteer within the Montessori community are able observe interactions between faculty and children in a variety of settings. It also allows them the opportunity to work alongside faculty and staff, allowing for further understanding of philosophy and the importance of language.
Parent-Teacher ConferencesParent conferences facilitate continued Montessori parent education and communication. During these conferences, parents may be more responsive to invitations from their classroom teacher. Teachers may want to have handouts available that outline the needs of the classroom or the school culture and community. Teachers can also share upcoming parent education opportunities during the conferences.
Parent Education SessionsThere are four steps to planning a successful parent education session: planning, implementing, notifying, and reminding. Ideally, parent education should be planned an entire year at a time. This way, parent education can be properly prepared and incorporated into the school calendar. This shows parents that you take parent education seriously and allows them to make plans to attend. It should also be posted on your school website. Put it on your homepage, on your parent’s page, and your “upcoming events” page to ensure that it gets read. As the date approaches, post it on the ‘reminder’ board at pick-up and drop-off locations, send home flyers, send reminder emails, and even have teachers call and personally invite the parents of their students. Finally, we teach our students the art of saying thank you. Be sure to thank the parents who participate in your parent education session by calling or sending a handwritten note upon completion. Your effort will not go unnoticed!
Because we care for our children, parents, grandparents and teachers should strive to make the connection between home and school. By interacting and working together, we learn the language and share in our beliefs of the Montessori child.
For more information: Promoting Parent Involvement in Your Montessori Community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, March 16, 2009.