A Montessori learning community is a dynamic village, whose success – defined not in financial terms but by the growth and joy of the children – depends on the collaboration and shared values of all its members. What role do you play?
The Montessori Guide
Each environment (classroom) is steered by a well-trained and experienced Montessori guide. She needs to have a profound love for children and a vision of their immense potential; keep herself immersed in Montessori theory and continuously educate herself on aspects of human development; and be receptive to respectful feedback. But no matter how passionate, qualified and dedicated the Montessori guide be, she cannot fulfill the mission alone.
Administrators are the torchbearers of the school’s Montessori values. They serve as a sounding board for the guide’s ideas and challenges; help parents and guides understand each other; and uphold the practice of Montessori philosophy (to the exclusion of all others) through comprehensive parent education, effective professional development, and consistent observation/feedback in the classroom.
Parents (at home)
Parents who choose a Montessori education for their child need to understand the impact their home life has on the functioning of the classroom community. When the values of the home align with the values of the chosen school, the child transitions smoothly between his two environments. This continuity of values and expectations allows him to feel safe, accepted and successful. Parents who offer clear limits and hold their children (and themselves) accountable; provide a loving home environment rife with opportunities for connection; and model a growth mindset have children who come to school ready to reap the benefits of a truly transformational education.
The Parent Community (at school)
A parent community provides the “village” that allows families to successfully navigate the pressures of modern society and stay true to their core values. The village upholds the school’s values and uses them as a guide for how they treat the children, staff and each other. They volunteer their time and talents towards the upkeep and improvement of the school. Children see their parents’ commitment towards school and begin to understand its value.
In a society that tries to outsource or outwit the most challenging aspects of child-rearing, it takes commitment and vision to be a member of this type of community. Only when we each understand and embrace our role – and find the humility to admit that we need each other – will we begin to be of service to the children. It truly does take a village.