Over the past several weeks, the teachers, Ms. Kim, and Ms. Lise have been connecting with parents so we can learn from each other about how to make the most of Distance Learning. It is certainly a challenge for everyone. We applaud you, our parent community, for the many ways you are supporting your children and each other. Thank you for sharing what has worked well for you and helping us make the Distance Learning experience better by asking for support and making suggestions.
We’ve shared many tips on the blog and in the Weekly Notes throughout this process, and several themes have emerged. We have gathered those themes here in hopes that they will help your family make the most of Montessori education, both now and after we return to campus:
- Connect with your child’s teacher. She or he is the foremost expert in your child’s developmental stage and educational needs. During Distance Learning, you can email, attend a parent forum, or ask for an individual meeting via Zoom or phone.
- Lean into what’s happening now. Take advantage of the unique opportunities the situation presents—whether it is Distance Learning and more time at home now, or whatever is happening in your family life and the world later. We often resist whatever is going on and struggle to “get back to normal.” The current moment presents opportunities for growth and learning. The Montessori approach is exceptional in this regard. By the nature of the method, teachers and children can respond creatively, construct individualized work plans, and leverage real-life learning opportunities and hands-on experiences.
- Connect with other parents. You’re not alone in whatever you’re experiencing—other parents have been there, too. Look for parents who have a positive, uplifting attitude while also being authentic about the challenges of family life. If you’re new to the CMS community or are looking for someone who has been through something similar to what your child is experiencing, contact the office. We can help you find ways to get in touch with other families and find community in adversity.
- Create a simple routine for home. The schedule may not be the same each day (life happens!), but pick a few things everyone can count on: ample time to get ready in the morning, family meals at least a few times per week, simple bedtime routines that allow moments of real connection and take place early enough to give everyone plenty of sleep.
- Observe. When you’re frustrated, take a breath and step back. Observe your child for a moment, or an hour, or even a few days. Check your assumptions. Try to imagine why your child might be doing what he’s doing. See what you can learn by observing your child—and yourself. Often, your child is truly acting in order to pursue independence and understanding of the world, not just trying to get under your skin.
- Clarify (and perhaps modify) expectations. Sometimes conflicts happen because expectations are not clear to everyone, or they aren’t appropriate to your child’s developmental stage. Most of us create expectations unconsciously out of our own childhood experiences. Begin to question your expectations and assumptions. You may end up wanting to retain them all, but do so based on mindful consideration.
- Set age-appropriate goals and responsibilities together. Empower your child to contribute to the family through meaningful work. As she grows, give her age-appropriate choices and empower her by giving only the help she needs.
- Respect the child’s concentration. Avoid interrupting a child at work unless absolutely necessary—even to comment or ask what she is doing. Remember, a child’s work may look very different from an adult’s work! A young child staring out the window might be deeply studying a bird or tree species, or perhaps resting after a challenging project so that she can integrate a new concept.
- Purposeful work is the answer to almost any issue. When your child is contributing meaningfully to the household via hands-on work, she is usually satisfied and family life is more harmonious.
- Offer choices. Empower the child to choose appropriately by giving acceptable options. Would you like to wear the red shirt, or the purple? Would you like to clean up your room today or this weekend? Of course, only offer options that you are willing to give or terms that the child would accept. This gives the child the opportunity to practice independence within the fair limits that you set.
- Cultivate appreciation. At dinner or bedtime, share one thing you are grateful for, one thing that challenged you, and one thing you’re looking forward to. Ask your child to do the same. Creating a culture of gratitude and open communication opens the door for your child to see you as a partner in her learning and her life.
Kim Schneider, Head of School