Montessori Madmen

Advocating Montessori

We're an impatient, ragtag group of dads and advocates from around the world, united by a common zeal to bring the Montessori method to millions more. Our mission is simple: to advocate for Montessori education so that one day it's not called Montessori school; it's just called school.

Montessori for Dads - Make it Happen

A few months ago I decided that I wanted to try to lead a “Montessori for Dads” discussion at my kids’ school. I had found myself having more and more conversations with various dads about Montessori. Too many of them had no idea what it was or why they should care about it, even some of the dads at our school. I wanted to start changing that. I wanted to share some of my passion for Montessori and start a conversation about why it *should* matter to dads.

If you want to start a similar conversation at your kids’ school it’s really easy. Here are the steps I took:

Talk to the head of school to let them know you are interested in leading a “Montessori for Dads” discussion.

  • They will be thrilled. Trust me.

Schedule a date. Coordinate with the head of school to schedule a date that fits well in the school calendar and will work for most dads.

  • I chose the Thursday night when our elementary class departed for a two day trip to the Crane Foundation in Wisconsin, because I figured a bunch of dads would likely have fewer kids at home to worry about and it wasn’t a weekend night.

  • We started at 6:30 pm so most dads could get there from work if needed.

Get the word out!

  • We started with an email invitation to all the dads (and to all the moms asking them to forward the invitation to dad).

  • We posted the invitation to our school Facebook page.

  • We included a reminder in several regular school emails, on Facebook, in a sign on the school door, and in the school newsletter.

  • Make sure you do this far enough in advance. We sent the first invitation about 5-6 weeks prior to the event. In hindsight we could have done it even sooner.

Prepare your agenda. I made mine super simple.

  • I introduced myself.

  • I did a quick poll of the room so everyone could quickly learn who was a “new” Montessori dad and who were the experienced dads. (“Raise your hand if your kids are just starting...your kids have been here for a year...two years...three years” etc.)

  • I asked each dad to describe one thing they knew about Montessori and wrote each idea they mentioned down on a whiteboard. This also served to get the dads talking so they would understand it was a conversation rather than a lecture.

  • When we finished going around the room I shared why I was so passionate about Montessori, in part because most of the things they mentioned were associated with qualities that we *all* value in our friends and family, in the people we work with, in our leaders.

  • Finally, I opened the floor for discussion with questions: “How do we as Dads use and reinforce the principles of Montessori?” “Why does that matter?” My intention at this stage was to facilitate sharing of ideas from experienced to inexperienced Montessori dads (much the same way that a 6th grader might help a 4th grader with some of their work in the classroom).

Here are few other odds and ends you might be wondering about:

  • The invitation was a call to action, challenging the dads to get involved and “don’t be that dad” that doesn’t know what is going on.

  • We did not have food, but that seems like a reasonable way to try to draw more participation.

  • I invited the head of school to help me take notes and to be able to answer any questions about Montessori that I couldn’t answer. There was also one mom who really wanted to participate. I purposefully wanted to keep it mostly a conversation among dads.

  • We had about a dozen dads show up, only a couple of us with lots of experience. I suspect this was due to the amount of advance notice and timing at the end of the school year. I plan to try again at the beginning of the school year with more advance notice to see if it makes a difference.

So what are you waiting for!? Get planning. And let the Madmen know what happens. What will you do differently? What worked? What didn’t work?