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April 10, 2024

Montessori Parenting: Family Meetings

With five kids sometimes it can feel like moving mountains to get everyone in the same place at the same time. And it can feel especially hard to feel like we are all on the same page in understanding the plan. And overtime one of our most valuable things we have incorporated into our regular Montessori parenting is having a family meeting.

These meetings are our opportunity to go over the things that will happen in a given day, week, or situation. Sometimes these are a way to increase cooperation between ourselves and the children, or explore a problem that has been happening in our family. 

Now, I don't think the concept of family meetings is exclusive to Montessori. While Montessori herself never talked about, family meetings are similar to class meetings, and meetings between students/guides (second plane and older) that are staples in Montessori programs. They are definitely worth a try if you feel like you could use more cooperation from all the members of your family. 

Tips for Meaningful Family Meetings from a Montessori Parent

Now, family meetings are going to look and feel different for every family! I think that is actually what we want. Above all else you want something genuine that feels like it fits with the temperaments of your family members, is aligned with your family's values, and is a sustainable practice for you all. 

We personally have two types of meetings. One our regularly scheduled Sunday meeting that we use to review our entire week ahead (both an adults only meeting and then at dinner with everyone.) Then we have more ad hoc meetings, where issues arise or we are going over a specific event. These are more as needed. 

In either case, here are some tips to make these meetings a success: 
  • Not a lecture, but a discussion. This isn't just a time for you to air your grievances or try to lecture your way into cooperation. This is a family discussion where you're really looking to all get on the same page, solve some problem, and listen to everyone's input. We can always set respectful boundaries, but you're not going into this meeting trying to control the outcome. 
  • Practice this skill.  Don't save for only major important things, talk about regular routines, daily plans, and the mental load of just running the house so that everyone can contribute. You don't want to try and use this just for the big things because you'll all be out of practice. 
  • Ask for meaningful participation. Make this truly a meeting. Ask questions, discuss their advice, and follow their plans as you can. It shouldn't just be a time when you are listening but then doing what you want. Show them their contributions are valuable. 
  • Adjust your expectations for age. First plane children aren't going to be as interested, they are going to move and come in and out of participation - that's ok. Moving into the second plane, and for sure by the third plane, kids can take a much more active role in running, planning, and participation in these family meetings.  
  • Doesn't have to be formal. While you could choose to run these in a more formal fashion, with someone taking notes or keeping an agenda, you don't have to. We often work around the dinner table or keep it informal. Find what works for you. 
Family meetings can really help your Montessori family run more smoothly and help everyone feel like they are on the same page. If you want to start this practice, start small and be consistent. The more you can create a culture around this type of open communication, the easier and more natural it will feel for you all. 

Do you run family meetings in your home? Who participates?

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