Thursday, September 27, 2018

Questions to Ask your Elementary Student's Teacher at the Beginning of the Year

As parents, it is normal to have a million questions about your child’s learning experience. A quick Google search yields dozens of articles dedicated to this topic alone! Fortunately, as the parent of a Montessori elementary student, many questions can be answered by having a familiarity with the Montessori principles that guide your child’s school and classrooms. However, there are still many more answers to be had, and you can begin to uncover them by asking a few larger questions that open the door for deeper and continued conversations with your child’s teacher.

How do you see your role in the learning process and what learning tools will you use?

While we know that a Montessori teacher’s role is fundamentally to act as a guide versus a director, a teacher’s individual education and management style can vary a good deal. This question can get at the heart of not only how a teacher runs their classroom, but how they will work with your child’s unique needs and even what inspires them to teach. And though your Montessori student will likely have the same teacher for several years, the answer to this question will change and evolve just as your child and their learning does. Additionally, gaining an understanding of what learning tools they will use each year better allows you to help continue their learning outside the classroom and recognize their strengths and areas for growth.  

What are the most challenging topics that will be covered this year and what are strategies I can use to support my child if they are struggling?

Building off the previous question (as any good conversation does), it can be helpful to know what some of the more challenging learning experiences will be for your child this year. This could be a certain practical life skill, a particular math concept, exercises in more abstract thinking, or even more advanced social interactions. Whatever the anticipated challenge, it can be helpful to know what has taken greater effort from previous students, or what the teacher anticipates may harry your child based on their knowledge of your child from last year. Knowing ahead of time means you can work together to put a plan in place, including introducing the concepts at home ahead of time or doing research on what resources are available to you.

How can I model and support a love of learning and how can we all work together?

Though teachers can be a central figure in a student’s educational support system, parents are one of the most important resources their child has in helping them to process and integrate their learning. This means that, like in the Montessori classroom setting, lectures about, for example, the virtues of reading, are not nearly as effective as a parent/teacher who models for their child/student how they love to read. Ask your child’s teacher what strategies they use in the classroom or have learned from other parents that model and support love of learning. They will likely have much to say on the topic, and you will have opportunities to try and decide what works for your family. And of course, to keep this conversation going, it is important to ask how you can best communicate with your child’s teacher moving forward - exchange information and look forward to working together as a team for the rest of the school year.

The Montessori School of Pleasanton encourages families and teachers to have open dialogue about what is going on in the classroom and with a particular student.  Both parties play a key role in educating the student.  For more information about Montessori education, contact us today.

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