For many of our parents the beginning of parent-school interaction, Montessori is new. A few parents attended a Montessori school (including our own!) as a child but most take a leap of faith that the Method best serves the developmental needs of their children. Any faith can be tried by a number of factors—classroom techniques that seem counter-intuitive, a child’s perception that may differ every-so-slightly from the facts, and sometimes mistakes teachers, students, or (surely not!) administrators.
Parents can become Montessori-savvy in a number of ways. First, and least likely, is to enroll in a Montessori course. Happily, the oldest Montessori Teacher Education Program in the state—the Institute for Guided Studies (IGS)—is located on our campus. It offers two courses that can enlighten the curious parent. First, a parent can enroll in a teacher-certification course. This makes the graduate eligible to be hired anywhere in the world as a Montessori teacher. Unfortunately, it costs about $6,000 and takes a minimum of 15 months (including a year-long internship) for Primary and more time and money for Elementary. These are the courses that our teachers have taken.
A quicker way that avoids the cost and most of the time is the week-long “Foundations of Montessori Philosophy and Educational Theory”—long title but a short and intense week-long course. This course will be offered during the second week of October. This course serves as the basic training for new hires. We will be sending 7 of our faculty members to the course and I’m sure they would love to have some parents join them. You can find information about either course at https://www.igs-montessori.net/. If you call them please speak with either Beth Langley or Kristie Norwood, both of whom are former staff members of our school; just don’t believe anything they say about me.
A second method to learn about Montessori is, of course, Google. The up side of this approach is that masses of information that can be gleaned essentially with almost no effort or expense. The down side is the same as everything about the internet—maybe it’s accurate and maybe it’s not. And since Montessori is not a monolithic world, what a parent finds may be true in some schools but not others. Our web site is a good place to start.
A number of books give readers great information. Dr. Montessori wrote a number of them, but they’re not easy to read. A number of her acolytes have written excellent books and articles, and I recommend one that the authors—friends of mine—have directed to parents specifically: The Montessori Way, by Tim Seldin and Paul Epstein. It can be found on Amazon, but the $80 price tag made me stroke and I think one can avoid a visit to a cardiologist with careful shopping. Parents who want something more substantial may find some books in our school library.
Another way for parents to get their arms around Montessori is to attend workshops that I host on a monthly basis. I started them last year but as the first-year-charter machine ground me down I suspended the workshops. But with a slightly better grasp of charter administration and a renewed sense of mission I intend to start them again. They last about an hour and are free. This week the office will send out a survey of possible times of day for the workshops and we will schedule them based on times convenient for most parents. Unless you plan to take an IGS course, I’ll see you there!