Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Parent Night on Zoom before Returning to School

For those unable to attend last night's virtual parent night, please find a summary of it below:

The two months of sheltering in place is about to end and we will return to school on Monday. Thank you all for your communication with us during this time, for sharing your experiences, and for being there for your children to whatever degree that you were able. We all did the best we could with the circumstances we were in.

Last week I received an email from a parent from school that read the following:

We all learned so much during this time. We slowed down for some weeks, enjoyed some spectacular scenery (tourist free) as a family, accomplished important milestones (bike without training wheels, make your breakfast and snack, meditation before going to bed), and ultimately had no choice but to incorporate the Montessori principles at home :) We'll always remember these good times and hope we can come back to this slow pace again, once in a while.”

I was particularly intrigued by the line "we had no choice but to incorporate Montessori principles at home". I wondered which Montessori principles might this parent be talking about?

For our age group children, the home is the primary environment they learn from. During these past two months, your home life was the curriculum. In truth, your children don't need to come to school to learn. They are always learning. Their brain is designed to be learning from every experience they live, not only through things they are taught directly at school. 

You did not accidentally choose Montessori schooling to be a part of your children's life, and as the parent above wrote, cannot help but be influenced by Montessori values in your home because of it. During our parent nights, parent conferences, visits to school, and general participation in your child's education you have all been exposed to Montessori thinking.

I made a list of of core Montessori principles, and invite you to reflect on how you incorporated these in your home environment during the last two months. (During the live parent night, parents filled our a survey for each of the principles on Survey Monkey at this address: )

1)Independence- Did you foster and encourage independence in your child? Examples: showing them how to do something and then letting them do it on their own even if it's not perfect at the beginning, giving them child size tools, allowing them to collaborate in home tasks, trusting them with their own efforts?

2)Self directed activity- Did you prioritize time for your child to choose their own activities? Did you allow them be bored when they couldn't choose and refrain from rescuing them by telling them what to do? Did you forgo the role of constant entertainer for your child?

3)Order- Did you provide a general predictable daily routine for your child? Did you implement clear, predictable and consistent limits?

4)Practical, real life skills – Did you show your child how to do real and practical things (like food preparation, repairing things, maintenance and care of things)?

5)Uninterrupted work/play- Did you try your best not to interrupt your child and allow for long spans of concentrated work/play?

6)Prepared Environment- Did you offer learning opportunities in your home by organizing it in a way that was accessible to your child?

7)Experiential Learning- Did you maximize simple (or special) everyday situations and recognize them as learning experiences? Including using good vocabulary in your conversations, reading books every day, making mathematical observations, being outside in nature?

8) Community and Respect: Did you listen to your child? Did you include your child in family meetings and let them take part in decisions about things?

9) Peace Education. Did you try to maintain a peaceful environment around your child? Did you solve problems constructively?

10) Positive Role Modeling (the role of the adult). Did you role model for your child behavior and a way of being that you want them to emulate?

These are all an integral part of our school program but can all be incorporated in your home life as well. These principles reflect what is at the heart of Montessori education and are replicable in any environment. The exercise of reflecting “how you did” regarding these principles is a chance to look back at your home practices and decide what you would like to change or where you can improve, or just to give yourself a big pat on the back for even trying with some of these concepts. I know it's not easy! 

Sharing the results of the survey with me will give me the valuable feedback for knowing what Montessori principles we can review in the coming month as an aid to your home life.

A few other questions that I invite you to further reflect on:

Which of the Montessori principles that you incorporated into your home did you find the most useful during this time?

What could your child do independently that surprised you?

Which aspects of these past two months do you want to retain as part of your normal home life from now on?


Next week we return to school and I'd like to share some photos with you (since you will not be able to enter the classroom) of what our environment looks like with some of our new protocols in place. We'd like to preserve our program as it is as much as possible, but the changes we have made for the next weeks are also an acknowledgement that things are changing in our world. We have the valuable opportunity in the next month to gently introduce these kinds of changes to children while they are at their friendly and familiar school.

Arrival at school. Please wait in your car so only one parent and child at a time arrive at our gate. We will maintain social distance among adults. 

Examples of indirect social distancing by making spacing out tables and work areas for the children in the classroom.

There will be two assistants in the classroom (Kylie and Noemi) and marked spaces on the floor for when children need to approach them.

There will be two individual snack tables in the classroom. Snacks will be placed individually on the shelf and cleanup will be with alcohol wipes. Children will wash their hands prior to eating and use the wipe to clean their table when they finish. Outdoor snack will be for one child at a time as well at each of our outdoor snack tables.

To maximize time outside, we will have multiple garden necklaces. Also our classroom will be ventilated (open the windows) every hour.
 We will use these cut up yoga mats to spread out children during small group lessons. Large group lessons will be in the lunch room where there is lots of space and ventilation.

 For Departure, please take the first left when heading into the school's street so you can line up your cars (carpool style) and we can bring your child to your car as you drive up one by one.

Please remember to send a waterbottle, indoor shoes, and 2 sets of extra clothes with your child on Monday or Tuesday!

“Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there's a big disappointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don't know anything. We call something bad, we call it good. But really, we just don't know.”

Pema Chodron, Buddhist Monk

With an open and curious attitude we can face the time ahead together.

***This document was edited to make it reader friendly and the fun games and short warm up activities we did were edited OUT to focus around the central content of the evening. If you are a teacher or administrator and would like to complete version of what we did, email me and I'd be happy to share that with you.

1 comment:

Padma Saraf said...

Thank you so much for your blog.. during these times the world seems to become like a family..