Parent education is a vital part of a schools work. It benefits the child, the school community and Montessori education in general.
There are many layers that we have to touch upon.
There’s the understanding of child development and how it relates to the physical and psychological aspects of the child’s environment. Then there’s the whole curriculum side of things and how that connects to the characteristics of the child it seeks to serve. The shallow, popular notions of child rearing that an irresponsible media constantly bombards parents with serves to add fuzz, and another layer that we have to reckon with.
In the past we have had book readings and a silent journey of discovery. We have paid home visits and care is taken that very individual meeting with a parent touches upon these points. We also regularly send out articles and have a parent library at school.
The times when I feel we have been most successful in our efforts is when there are opportunities for the parents to actually ‘work’ with their hands.
Recently we had an orientation for the parents of our elementary children. We focused on ‘Cosmic Education’
Cosmic Education is an all-inclusive six-year curriculum for elementary age children.
It demonstrates the interconnection and interdependence of all things, both animate and inanimate and relates all academic subjects to each other.
Most importantly it answers the questions typically asked by elementary age children and places the child’s primary orientation to life, firmly in the universe.
How do you make apparent so many nuances?
Therein lies the beauty of Montessori. All of it has been made so concrete and accessible.
We started the session by briefly talking about the characteristics of the 6 to 12 year old child.
We then related 2 of the 5 great lessons that elementary children receive.
First was The Story of the Universe. It is about how our universe came into existance, the formation of stars and planets, ending with the formation of our very own earth.
Next up was The Coming of Life . It starts off from where we left off in The Story of the Universe, and charts the evolution of life on earth.
After the Great lessons, we moved into 3 groups and the parents received small group lessons. They then did an hour of follow up work, just like our children do in class.
One group got a story about an animal – the sponge. It was the very same story we give the children, full of the ‘strangeness’ of the sponge.
Another group received a story about the life and death of stars. Besides the sequence of the life cycle of a star, the amazing fact that we are all star stuff was highlighted in the story.
The third group received a presentation with 3D Solids. They ran the shapes in sand to find the paths made by the different faces. They then traced these paths to make nets for the solids. After that they moved onto platonic solids.
After this work, we gathered in a group and shared our experiences.
We laid out labels with the names of different subject areas.
Each time a parent saw a connection between two areas, we connected them with yarn.
We ended by revisiting the characteristics of the elementary child and asking the question “Did the curriculum serve these characteristics?”
The parents left with the article ‘Montessori Community Values: Sowing the Seeds of Morality’ by Greg MacDonald.
All in all it was a good session. I know that we have to build on what we’ve laid here, but like they say, “little drops of water make the mighty ocean!”