Parents’ Role in Montessori Education
“How can I help my child have a great academic school year?” – That question has been asked so many times by anxious parents. The good news is there is a lot you can do. Education is the collaboration between the parents and the school/teacher. If I could answer it briefly I would say, “Stay involved.”
Staying involved means much more than buying your child the school supplies, pretty new clothes, and a snappy back pack for the new school year. My long career as a teacher has proven to me that the children who are happiest and most successful in school are those whose parents are involved a hundred percent with their education. How can you do this without appearing to be meddlesome or labeled a “helicopter mom/dad?” Also, in today’s world, most families have both parents working outside the home and time is limited. However, once you put some rules into place at the beginning of the school year, things will fall into place. Here are some guidelines:
- Make sure you get to know your child’s teacher. Establish a means of regular communication that is mutually convenient to you and the teacher. Let the teacher know of any incidents that occur at home that may impact your child’s behavior in class. For example, the loss of a pet or illness in the family or the child, even a late night can adversely affect the child’s performance. Any disruption of routine at home impacts the child’s performance in class. As you develop a trusting relationship with the teacher, a two way communication will be easier, and this will have a positive impact on the child. An open, honest relationship between parent and teacher fosters respect in the child for the teacher, and this in turn enhances the learning experience. The child will be less likely to complain about too much work or the teacher being “mean” when she is trying to instill discipline. The teacher/child bond will develop at the same rate as the teacher/parent bond. A child who has truly bonded with the teacher is an infinitely more successful student.
- Have positive conversations at home about the importance of learning. Set high goals and openly support the goals set by the teacher.
- Encourage reading by having some time in the day set aside for reading, and let the child see you reading every day. Limit TV and video games, and channel this time into reading. Even 15 minutes just before going to bed can encourage the reading habit. Have good age-appropriate reading materials available at home. Once the child begins to read for pleasure and discovery, reading to learn a subject becomes a very logical next step.
- Set aside quiet time and a special quiet place for homework. Make sure the TV, computer games and the cell phone is not available to the child during this time. At the primary/elementary level of education, homework is practice of what the child has done at school, so will not need much adult help. However, if you see your child struggling with a concept, offer the help needed, but make sure you communicate this to the teacher. Ensure all the homework is completed.
- Try not to over-schedule your child with too many after school activities. A child needs down time at the end of the school day. Make sure to let the child have some playtime, preferably an outdoor activity. When a child can just be a child is usually the time when batteries are recharged! Regrettably, in the world of today we appear to be waging a losing battle with digital/technical toys. My sincere advice to parents is, do not give in to this onslaught! Each parent has to set rules and limit these at an early age. If you start early enough, your rules will become the norm and be acceptable to the child.
- Make sure your child gets sufficient sleep, enforce regular bed times. Serve the child a good breakfast in the morning. If your morning routine is a rush, pack the breakfast so the child can eat it before class begins at school. A tired hungry child is not able to get any work done.
- Make time to go through any reports sent home, sign and return these to the teacher in the designated time frame. If a report is a cause for concern, set up an immediate meeting with the teacher to discuss how the situation may be remedied.
- Make time to go to every parent/teacher conference. It is preferred both parents attend these meetings if possible.
- Make time to attend all school events and performances. Children, together with their teachers, work very hard to put on the various recitals and performances that take place in a school year. It makes a child feel extremely proud and special to see the parents in the audience.
Yes, the Arborland Montessori school and the teachers work to prepare your child to take his/her place in society, and become a valued successful member of the human race. It is, however, the parental input and whole hearted support that puts the most significant contribution into this wonderful process of educating the child to become a fully functioning, successful, responsible member of his/her world. What you, the parents, do is of great outcome in your child’s education.