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Research has shown time and time again that parent involvement is critical to children’s success. Click here for more informationWe all want to take an active role in our child’s education, but sometimes it can be a challenge to discern just where our efforts are best spent. Below we touch on six critical areas that all parents can focus on to make a big difference. 

1. Make Connections 

Consider the whole school community and make connections with others whenever possible. We know this has been difficult during COVID restrictions but there are ways we can continue to connect. Start with your child’s teacher. Let them know who you are, reach out whenever you have questions or concerns, and ask them how you might best support their work in the classroom. You child’s educator is always the first point of call if you have any questions about your child.  The Administration staff are always available for other incidental, day to day questions.  

Connections can also be made with the FMS Leadership Team staff. We’re a small school so that means we’re a close knit community and it doesn’t take long for everyone to know everyone else. It’s always nice to say hello and touch base when you can offer support or have positive feedback.  

Do you have a passion for gardening or always wanted to learn more? Check in with your child’s teacher just for conversation or with Steve Willis and Anahita Olsen who would love you to help out.  

Here’s the link to see our Class Parent Coordinator and all our Class Parents. They will be sending you a welcome email soon.  I am so grateful for all their work in connecting our community. 

2. Volunteer 

Feeling social? Introduce yourself to other parents in the Community Team. Any time we connect with others we strengthen the community as a whole, which is a great thing for everything involved. 

Schools always need help. Whether it be to organise a fundraiser, help at an event, offer your talents or services, or maybe even come and share your story with the class, we would love to have you join us. We completely understand that most parents have busy schedules, and that not everyone is comfortable with every type of volunteering, but we encourage all families to contribute in whatever ways they can.  

We encourage you to join our Community Team, CT for short.  This team is critical to the ongoing success and support of our students, classrooms, and the school as a whole.  You can join the meetings online too so that makes it much easier.  It’s an ideal way for new families to connect. 

3. Keep Learning 

As educators, we consider ourselves to be lifelong learners. We work hard to cultivate a joy of learning in the children we teach, so that they may carry that passion for knowledge with them throughout their lifetimes. We hope that the families we serve feel the same way. 

Montessori education is unlike any other method of learning and teaching. In order to fully support your child’s growth and learning, it really helps if you as a parent prioritise learning what you can about Montessori. By understanding more about child development, our methods, and why Montessori does things differently, you will have a deeper understanding of what goes on during your child’s school day, and you will find more nuanced ways to support them at home. 

We’ll have lots of opportunities for you this year to join online learning workshops and who knows, closer to the end of Term 4 2021 we may be able to host large groups onsite again. 

“Keep learning” isn’t just about Montessori, either. We believe all humans should stay curious. If your child sees you nurturing your own passions and seeking out new information regularly, you are setting an example that will stick with them for a lifetime. So, take time out to learn more about whatever interests you, and share your enthusiasm with the whole family when it strikes.  We distribute a weekly blog to help keep you curious and there’s lots of parent information on our website. 

4. Support Learning at Home 

Learning happens everywhere, all the time. Children spend a huge portion of their time at home, and while the home is a multi-purpose environment, it can also support children’s learning. We don’t mean you should go out and purchase Montessori materials (in fact, we don’t advocate doing so without specialised training). There are plenty of simple and small ways to support learning. Our bet is you’re likely already doing many of these! A few ideas: 

  • Keep plenty of books and magazines around. Source your local library and second-hand bookstore to keep things fresh! Trading with friends is another fun idea. 
  • Play board games together. Not only does this give everyone a chance to connect, but many games have elements of learning embedded into the fun. 
  • Spend time in the kitchen. There are so many important skills to be gained, from practical life to fractions. 
  • Emphasise toys that make kids think. Instead of the flashing, battery-powered variety, think about more open-ended options. Art supplies, blocks, colorful scarves, and even sets like marble runs keep kids entertained and thinking.  
  • Read together. Again, this is a great way to connect while building all sorts of literacy skills.  

5. Consider Different Forms of Advocacy 

It won’t come as a surprise when we say that parents are their children’s strongest advocates. Whether your child is struggling in academic or social skills, when they’re young they count on you to convey this information to other adults. Open communication is key, and it helps to recognise that children often have very different experiences at home and school. If you have concerns about your child, address them with their teacher early, and stay connected to discuss progress. 

It is very important for us to note that you will not be able to advocate for your child forever. One of the hallmarks of Montessori education is to nurture children’s independence, and we count on parents to help us in this endeavor. We want to teach our children to advocate for themselves, so as soon as they are able, we should encourage them and teach them how to speak up for themselves. 

Every time your child presents with an issue, it’s a learning opportunity. Do they have an idea for a project or study they would like to pursue?  Help they scaffold the conversation they can have with their educator. Do they wish they had more challenging maths work? Talk them through how they might ask their teacher. Are they struggling with another child on the playground? Go over various options and scenarios with them so they know how they might try and solve the problem in the future. Put your child in a position to advocate for themselves.  This is so much more powerful than needed an adult to step in. 

Our children need us to stand up for them, but ultimately, they need us to teach them to stand up for themselves. 

6. Attend Events  (even when they’re online)

Being an involved member of the community is one of the simplest and most effective ways to support your child and their school. We want to again acknowledge that families are busy and not everyone can attend every event, but we hope you will join us whenever possible. 

Some events are educational, while others are meant to be just fun. Either way, they are a great way to build and strengthen connections.  

We want to thank you for being a valued member of our community. Having different voices and perspectives is part of what makes our school strong, and we are grateful to all of you for everything you do to support us and your children! 

We look forward to a year of Thriving Together. 

Want to learn more about the benefits of the Montessori philosophy? Book a virtual tour and have a chat with me today!

Denice Scala

Author Denice Scala

B.A, M.Ed, Dip ED, Dip RSA, Cert. Neuroscience. Principal, Forestville Montessori School. Denice Scala is an executive leader with extensive experience in key strategic roles requiring business transformation and innovation. As a passionate advocate for the power of education to enrich lives, Denice moved from classroom teaching to leadership positions in 1992 and since then has held international in roles in Scotland and Australia as Principal, Head of Junior School, and Head of Learning Support. She has an impressive working knowledge of early learning, primary, middle, and secondary schooling including gifted education and special needs. Her Masters in Gifted Education led her to work extensively to find ways to cater for gifted students. This led to providing professional development opportunities for educators to assist in their understanding of the characteristics of gifted children and the complexities of growing up gifted. Denice’s unparalleled grasp of current educational realities is equally matched by her big picture thinking combined with practical solutions to navigate change.

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