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Friday, December 11, 2020

Getting Your Parenting Partner On Board with Montessori

While I often talk about the importance of preparing your environment in a Montessori home, perhaps the most important thing you can do is prepare yourself as the adult. Montessori education and parenting require a huge shift in the adult's behavior, perspective, and expectations. The more adults that are on board with this shift in a space, the better. The other day, I had an interesting discussion in my Montessori bookclub about getting spouses and parenting partners on board with Montessori. And, it made me realize that I had some thoughts and tips I wanted to share. 


First, let me say that Morgan is 100 percent on board with Montessori. He believes in the power of Montessori education and Montessori parenting principals resonate with him. But, this wasn't some immediate overnight process. Montessori has been a journey for him, for me, and for our family. And, that's ok! But, this doesn't mean Morgan is some sort of Montessori expert. He's not reading all the books, he couldn't tell you what an Imbucare Box is or what the Stamp Game does, and he certainly can't quote Montessori. 

And, again that's ok. He doesn't need to be an expert. And neither does your parenting partner. What we need is to be on the same page about how we want our family to feel. We need to be on the same page about our family values, how we are going to make decisions, what responsibilities everyone has, and how we are going to respond to difficult moments. This comes from a combination of a little learning and a lot of conversations. Here are some ways that I've gotten my husband on board with Montessori:
  • Dream about your future. Talk about how you want your family to feel in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, etc. What do you want your kids' childhoods to feel like, what are somethings you wish you would have had, what do you want your relationship with your children to look like? Then, be really explicit about how you see Montessori helping your family reach these dreams and goals. Where does Montessori support these goals? Basically get on the same page about the big picture. 

  • Send Information. I think it's always great to keep sending information to your parenting partner about things that help further the goals you have set for your family. If there are articles you read about particular challenges, send them along. There are also some great overviews for beginners about what Montessori is (here's one and here's another and another) ask them to give them a look. With Morgan, I make sure the articles are relevant to Montessori parenting, or a specific issue we are working through. I tend to save other articles that go deeper into the philosophy or educational materials for myself or pass them on to a friend to discuss. 

  • Learn Together. If your partner is willing, read a book together, listen to a podcast, take a course. Make it fun, make it part of a date night. Do it together. I personally don't just ask Morgan to take on this learning and expect him to do it by himself. But, I share my passion and invite him along for the ride. But, at the same time, I know that his journey is not my journey and that as long as we are on the same page about the really big stuff, the details will work themselves out. 

  • Model. Just like we model things for our children, model for your parenting partner. Don't expect them to have all the right responses or ideas right away, but keep showing them how this looks in real life. Explain why you are moving things around the house, explain why you aren't using timeout or some punishment, explain why you offer a choice about snack - or whatever it is! Then, let your children model that Montessori magic. Let your partner see how much joy Montessori brings them.

  • Keep Talking and Learning. Don't stop at one or two conversations about how you see your family. Keep evaluating. You're on the same team, working for the same goal. Talk about how Montessori is and is not working right now. How can it go better? What is working? Where are you seeing joy? Talk about things that have helped you through difficult moments. Practice strategies and plan for problems. Think of Montessori parenting as a journey, not a destination. There is always room for that growth.

  • It will look Different. Morgan doesn't parent the exact same way that I do. He may respond differently. He may let somethings go that I don't, or vice versa. He would certainly prepare the environment differently if he had full control. He is not me, and I am not him. Just like no two Montessori guides are going to be the exact same, no two parents need to be the exact same either. Children will be ok with parents that handle things in slightly different ways. And, I can trust what Morgan is doing, because I know that he and I are on the same page about those big picture details. 

  • Let Go of the Little Things. Just like we trust and respect our children, we can offer the same grace to our parenting partner. If your partner has no interest in learning the specifics about toy rotations for example, ask yourself if it really matters. If you're always the one rotating, let that part of their Montessori learning go. When they are ready to learn more, be open and willing to talk about it, but don't force it. 

I hope these tips were helpful in starting to think about how to get your parenting partner on board with Montessori. I think the most important thing to remember is that the big picture conversations have to keep happening and you need to show them how Montessori can have a role in making that happens. And, it's a journey, one that everyone will take at their own pace. 

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Would you like to comment?

ana said...

I needed ro read this! Thank you <3