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How can Parents Best Support Montessori Teachers?

As a new school year really gets underway, I've been thinking a lot about how to support my children's schools and my children's Montessori guides. Teachers {or guides as we call them in Montessori} in any type of school deserve respect, support, and acknowledgement. They are doing such amazing and important work, and often do it in less than desirable conditions. 

But, Montessori teachers in particular face unique challenges in the classroom. Montessori schools are so different from traditional classrooms, and the relationship between children and the guide are so different, that the support needed can also look different. All these thoughts led me to ask -- how can parents best support Montessori teachers? 

How can parents best support Montessori teachers? A resource for parents -- real Montessori teachers give their thoughts on how parents can support their work.

Now, I'm not a teacher, so I can't answer that myself. But, I do KNOW a lot of Montessori teachers. So, over the last several weeks I have been reaching out to as many Montessori teachers as I can find both on social media and in my real life. And here's what they had to say. 

In the Classroom 

One of the areas that many many Montessori teachers said they needed support with was in the classroom itself. Montessori classrooms are huge undertakings to create, and run. Many teachers need physical support and your help to make that happen. Here are some of the ways teachers said parents could help in the classroom. 

Volunteering to Make Materials

  • Sewing classroom materials
  • Laminating classroom materials
  • Cutting projects/booklets/cards 
  • Offering to make other Montessori materials for the classroom or any projects  

Volunteering in the Classroom/School

  • Offering photography services 
  • Gardening at the school or with children
  • Offering to supervise recess or other time with the children for staff meetings  
  • Doing the classroom laundry 
  • Offer to teach children a special skill or hobby you enjoy or share information about your career

Donations

  • Giving the classroom plants/flowers 
  • Offering to go thrifting for teachers for specific wishlist items 
  • Provide snack or food materials for the children
  • Providing gift cards or financial donations, especially for teachers with new classrooms
  • Offering to provide food for parent education nights and school events   
  • Donate books to the school or classroom 
"I have a parent that laminated and cut my vocabulary cards. She's a saint in my book!"

As the Guide 

Most Montessori teachers are amazing, helpful, wonderful people! They are people that love children, that want to make a difference in the world, and who dedicate their lives to their profession. However, they are more than that. They are often highly trained in both Montessori education and child development, they are keen observers, passionate about education. Here are some ways you can support the guide, as a person.

How can parents best support Montessori teachers? A resource for parents -- real Montessori teachers give their thoughts on how parents can support their work.

Respect

  • Be honest with the guide especially about your child's behavior at home 
  • Respect as a teacher and professional, not as only a babysitter
  • Approach the teacher first with any problems that arise
  • Trust that the guide has your child's best interests at heart 
  • Respect personal boundaries especially when it comes to technology 
  • Give teachers some time to respond to communications, they can't be available 24/7 
  • Trust the pace that your guide is working at with your child, it is based on careful observation
"Montessori guides have so much wonderful advice to put on the table, and taking that as a helpful suggestion rather than a judgement is crucial for connecting the home and school." 

Acts of Kindness 

  • Say "thank you" or write thank-you notes to teachers 
  • Bring by coffee/tea/wine {after asking the teacher's preference}
  • Offer help and support, make yourself available to your child's guide 
  • Share stories of how you see your child changing or growing at home
"Whenever a parent would thank me for working with their child, I'd be over the moon for days. Appreciation goes so far in supporting us!"

Communication

  • Read the emails/newsletters/updates that your child's teacher sends home 
  • Reach out with any questions you have about your child  
  • Attend parent education nights and other school events -- teachers put a lot of effort into these
  • Ask questions about Montessori -- the method, the philosophy, and the materials 
  • Sharing community events, articles, information relevant to class/school 
  • Ask about your child's strengths, weaknesses, and interests 
  • Observe in the classroom
  • Talk to your child's teacher in person, have a personal relationship 
  • Don't assume tone in digital communications 
How can parents best support Montessori teachers? A resource for parents -- real Montessori teachers give their thoughts on how parents can support their work.

With your Child and Home

We all love our children and want them to succeed! I know for me, this love has led me to choose Montessori -- both in my home and in their schools. Since Montessori schools are so child focused, the way we interact with our children, and our home environment, can have a direct effect on the child's ability to fully participate at school. By making changes to your home or interactions with your child you can help your child's guide. Here are some ways that you can help your child's teacher through your child and home.

Nutrition and Environment

  • Limit screen time and television exposure 
  • Limit sugar intake 
  • Ensure your child is getting enough sleep 
  • Make sure your child eats breakfast
  • Incorporate lots of gross motor play at home
  • Give your child down time to just play 
  • Encourage your child to play in nature as much as possible  
  • Spend quality time as a family 
"Get outside, be present with your kiddos, enjoy them, and model joy, model persistence, and model solving a problem."

Independence 

  • Invite your child to participate in practical tasks like cooking and cleaning
  •  Allow your child to be independent at home especially in self-care tasks like eating and dressing 
  • Give your child opportunities to practice grace and courtesy lessons at home and with others 
  • Make your child responsible for packing his/her backpack and lunches, encourage independence with school tasks 
  • Help your child develop intrinsic motivation by doing tasks for themselves 
  • Offer choices to your children from a young age, get them used to making decisions for themselves 
  • Give your child the opportunity to take care of someone or something else, like a family pet
  • Give your child responsibility to complete a task from start to finish -- practical things like setting the table work well
"Supporting our classroom rules and school wide expectations...Encouraging a child to handle her/his problems at school as independently as possible and asking for adult assistance when needed."

Parent-Child Interactions

  • Read to and with your child every day (or as much as possible)
  • Play sound games with your children 
  • Support classroom rules at home 
  • Encourage peaceful and independent conflict resolution at home and school 
  • Implement advice and suggestions given by your child's teacher
  • Take your child to cultural events in your community 
  • Help your child to learn to do hard things and to stick with things even when they are difficult 
"Filling a child's internal dialogue with positive affirmation is key. When children hear over and over to try again, that mistakes are normal, to not give up when faced with a challenge, and that they are capable and accomplished, that child really does become unstoppable." 

Your Home

  • Don't feel like you need traditional Montessori materials in your home 
  • Prepare a stimulating environment where children can explore their interests 
  • Use toy shelves in your home to get your children used to restoring order 
How can parents best support Montessori teachers? A resource for parents -- real Montessori teachers give their thoughts on how parents can support their work.

I want to thank all of the teachers -- nearly two dozen -- that took the time to email/message/talk to me for this post. They included Montessori infant all the way to upper elementary teachers, teachers from public Montessori schools and private, in the U.S. and abroad. If you are a Montessori teacher and you have something that should be added to this list, leave a comment, send me an email, or otherwise reach out! I would love to add your thoughts as we share this list with parents.

And to all teachers, thank you for your time, and thank you for all you do for children!

How can parents best support Montessori teachers? A resource for parents -- real Montessori teachers give their thoughts on how parents can support their work.

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Comments

As a Montessori teacher, I love this! One more great way parents can volunteer in the classroom is to come share a holiday from their culture with the class. Cultural celebrations are one of my favorite memories from Montessori school as a child. Great post!

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