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Dear Friend,

Scientific research has shown that the Montessori pedagogical approach works. A 2017 study by Angeline Lillard et al demonstrated that Montessori children "fared better on measures of academic achievement, social understanding, and mastery orientation, and they also reported relatively more liking of scholastic tasks. They also scored higher on executive function when they were 4...Montessori preschool also equalised outcomes among subgroups that typically have unequal outcomes."

Another study by Lillard et al "found that the more years one attended Montessori, the higher one’s wellbeing as an adult." However, as Barbara sets out in an Inspiration post for Montessori Europe this week, participation in Montessori education is predominantly limited to the preschool years as "global statistics show that the number of preschool settings far exceeds the elementary provision and is very small indeed when looking at the availability of Montessori schools for the oldest children in compulsory education." Barbara sets out her thoughts on why this discrepancy might exist, pointing out some factors including families' financial situation but also the fact that the Montessori curriculum and approach generally differ from the State curriculum which pushes for an outcome in which children grow up to participate in, and make a significant contribution to, the economic wellbeing of the nation. An education in which children are encouraged to follow their own path, such as a Montessori education, might be too far removed for many parents, from this mainstream approach.

In Teacher Tom's blog post How Not To Cheat Children...Or Anyone, he writes:

"Instead of allowing learning to be constructed by the learner, we instead march children through standardized curricula, measured by standardized tests, thereby cheating the children. We've stripped the process of inventiveness, creativity, and discovery, then wonder why the kids aren't motivated."

Sir Ken Robinson, who Barbara refers to in her Inspiration post, mentions in his 2006 Ted Talk, Do Schools Kill Creativity that we should give 'creativity' the same status as literacy and highlights the fact that education has reached a point where 'being wrong' is frowned upon as we all aim to remember the correct answers. Even if we did feel that the aim of education is to prepare children for making a significant economic contribution to society, aiming for conformity and squashing creativity is not doing them any favours! 

Choosing an educational path for their children which goes against what is pedalled in mainstream press and political agendas requires conviction and commitment. If we want to invite parents to commit their children, not only to Montessori in the early years but for the duration of their child's education, we must make it crystal clear why this alternative path is best for their child.

So how might we strengthen the conviction within parents that the Montessori approach and pedagogy is not just for preschool but for life? How might we develop their belief in the benefits of a Montessori education, not just in the early years but throughout the child's educational journey? 

Communication with parents is vitally important. Sharing research such as that carried out by global consultancy firm McKinsey, setting out the value of skills such as creativity, flexibility, communication, and sociability over and beyond academic skills and knowing facts might be a valid starting point. Research which demonstrates how Montessori might meet the development of those skills will also support parents' growing understanding of the value of Montessori elementary and secondary education. The World Economic Forum equally highlights that critical thinking and problem-solving (both of which have a strong base in creativity) are some of the top skills required in the future.

Teacher Tom, in his blog post What I Tell Parents about Play-based Education, writes that the most important things is to get parents on board and to "consciously manage those expectations, right from the start. For us, the process of getting parents on our bandwagon starts with our [spring] orientation." There is also much wisdom in his blog post What to do about Parents. What it generally boils down to is communication, transparency, engagement, understanding, kindness and respect.

We look forward to a webinar, hosted by Montessori Europe, on Wednesday 25 May at 18.00 (BST) / 19.00 (CEST) where we will be in conversation with three Montessori educators about their approach to offering meaningful learning experiences to adolescents and how they share their unique message with parents. Register here.

With all warm wishes for this Sunday, and we hope to see you on Wednesday.

With our warmest wishes,

Additional Resources

We Enroll the Family, Not the Child
How to involve hard to reach parents
Welcoming families of different cultures
Parental involvement
How to build partnerships with families from different cultural backgrounds
Our Webinars

Complete details about our events can be found on our website but do pop some of the following dates in your diary and click on the images to register.
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