By Mark Meyer ~ Head of School, Hudson Country Montessori
Educational research has shown time and again that students perform better in school when their parents are involved in the school and have a relationship with the child’s teacher. The goal of the relationship between teacher and parent should be to create a partnership where both parties work together to support the child through his/her ever changing developmental stages.
We frequently talk about the three year cycle and the myriad benefits that come from having a child stay with one class for three years. For the purpose of this article I only want to focus on the relationship aspects of the three year cycle.
Relationship: Teacher & Child
It takes about 2 months for a teacher to get to know a child well enough to nurture and inspire them in a way that is both challenging and fun. In a traditional setting the school year is 20% finished by the time the teacher and students establish a personal working relationship each year. In a Montessori setting, the initial start-up is about the same, however, once the teacher knows your child; he/she will work with your child for three years. When your child returns for the second and third year there is no start-up time and your teacher will challenge your child from the first day of school.
Apart from knowing how to challenge your child, a Montessori teacher has a unique personal relationship with her students. A teacher who begins a three year relationship with a new child naturally makes a greater professional and emotional commitment to the child because she knows that her investment of time and energy in the beginning will pay off for three years. As a student moves from one developmental stage to the next, she knows what came before and can usually anticipate what the child will need next. Her knowledge aids her in planning her curriculum that is individualized for each child.
Difficulties of Parenting in Today’s World
Let us review why parenting is so difficult these days. Simply put: by the time a parent figures how their three year old works, the child turns four. And by the time a parents figures out how their four year old works, they turn five. Parents are always playing catch-up with their child’s developmental stages in the midst of all the other pressing things going on in their lives (work, projects around the home, taxes etc.). Most of us do not have extended families for support and so we often find ourselves trying to raise our children with the help of a spouse who is often as confused as we are. Or, we read books and magazines that are little help because they often espouse conflicting parenting theories.
Your child’s classroom teacher is one of the best resources available to help you understand where your child is developmentally and how to work with children at that stage. Although no two children are the same or develop the same way or on the same schedule, our teachers have worked with hundreds of children. While they are always learning new things about working with individuals, children usually follow one or more general patterns of development with which our teachers are very familiar.
Parents and Teachers Working Together for the Betterment of the Child
There are some things in your child’s life that can change those patterns like separation/divorce, the death of pet, visiting grandparents, a serious family illness or the loss of a job. Children are extremely intuitive and if something has upset the harmony of your home, children can act out in a variety of ways (even if you never told them what is going on). That is why we ask parents to please tell us when something at home has changed – (good news and bad news). There are many ways the teacher can support your child in school if she knows what is going on at home. There is never any judgment on concerns or issues that you may bring up to the teachers or the administration. We are here to support and help in any way we can.