The Parenting 5 Books
If you are a parent looking for a practical guide to help you get started on your Montessori journey then this is the book for you!
Book 1: Practical and Independent Little People helps to promote independence through the acquisition of meaningful practical life skills. It will help you set up your home environment and will take you through how to present a range of practical activities to your child.
Book 2: Sensory Motor Play for Little People focuses on the importance of sensory experiences and motor movement in the development of healthy, happy humans! It links the physical to the emotional and neurological to remind you that you nurture the whole child when presenting the types of tactile tasks outlined in the book.
Books 3 - 5 will be released in the near future (watch this space!).
There are many books inspired by the Montessori method and promoting its principles and practices. What makes this one so special?
Where do I start?! The books are…
Down to earth and accessible.
The Parenting 5 books present important concepts in simple, friendly formats. Many other books on Montessori are heavy – literally and metaphorically! Other books can be a thick tome of pages containing complex language and intense concepts. These other weighty volumes are certainly valuable but they are not exactly accessible. In fact, sometimes they are downright overwhelming! ‘The Secret of Childhood’ can be a life-changing read but if you hand it to someone who is brand new to Montessori they will likely panic at the almost religious tone of its words. The Parenting 5 books, on the other hand, provide a comfortable welcome to the world of Montessori. A parent or educator who is brand new to Montessori can read the Parenting 5 and think, “Hey, I can do this!” rather than feeling overwhelmed by it all.
Everything about the Parenting 5 books has been geared towards truly supporting parents. Just physically picking up the book helps a parent feel reassured – it’s light enough for a parent to think “I’ll actually be able to get to the end of this!”. This is one of the reasons why the content is presented as a series of five short books rather than one long one. It helps a parent to feel empowered! Getting partway through a long book before running out of time (or energy!) can be disheartening – it can just add to the sense of guilt and pressure that many parents feel. The Parenting 5 books, on the other hand, help a parent reach meaningful milestones of progress along the way. Getting halfway through the first book doesn’t take too long – and then the excitement of being halfway through propels the reader towards the end! Reaching the end feels like an achievement – especially because it leaves the reader with plenty of ‘doable’ ideas to put the theory into action! The parent can then move on to the next book in the series while still feeling like they’ve already reached an important milestone.
The format of the books, with their short chapters and down-to-earth lay out (including bullet points and lots of illustrations!) are also perfect for time-poor parents. You can read a few pages before bed and then come back to it in a few nights and pick up right where you left off. You don’t have to revise to remember where you were up to in a deep theoretical discussion – you can just move straight on with the accessible but inspirational content!
In the Montessori classroom we say that “there is value in this idea of preparing oneself before attempting and perfecting oneself before moving on”. That concept is certainly present with the Parenting 5 series; each book introduces an element and helps the parent implement it at home. It introduces the parent to fundamental information to encourage them to attempt the activities, then helps them refine their practice and move on to connecting it to other elements! Preparing and perfecting!
Bridging the language gap
The Parenting 5 books are certainly based on principles found in Montessori, but the book does not rely on the unusual language that is associated with most Montessori texts. Instead of talk of ‘normalisation’ and ‘psychic embryos’ the book references modern concepts of neurological development and introduces clear, step-by-step instructions to designing stimulating environments and activities. You don’t have to be fluent in the language of Montessori to understand this book!
The books deliberately include features such as blank pages at the end for making notes, clear illustrations throughout (to support parents who are visual learners) and lots of real-world examples. The text almost feels like a hybrid between a book and a blog; friendly, straightforward ideas being shared as though the writer and the reader are two good friends having a chat!
For all the reasons mentioned above, these books are the perfect tool for Montessori-inspired parents who are struggling to explain their choices to other family members. It seems to be a common problem that Montessori parents face scrutiny (or even opposition) from relatives who are confused or threatened by the unique Montessori principles. Handing these family members a copy of ‘The Montessori Method’ doesn’t really help; it seems to just reinforce their opinion that Montessori is something ‘weird’ or ‘alternative’. Giving these relatives a copy of The Parenting 5 books can help to explain some of the most important principles without coming across as threatening, intense or ‘alternate’. The practices described in The Parenting 5 series could easily be identified simply as ‘high-quality experiences’ or ‘best practice early learning’ – the “M-word” is not the focus! So family members who are sceptical of “Montessori” can still read and enjoy The Parenting 5! This can help them to understand your parenting choices.
The perfect book to accompany a cup of tea!
How the Parenting 5 Books can be used within a Montessori school:
Since The Parenting 5 books are so parent-friendly they are also ideal for Montessori schools who are trying to offer supportive, engaging parent-education.
Here’s how the books can be used in Montessori schools or centres;
In-service Training for volunteers
If your school is anything like mine you get a lot of requests from parents, and from students studying Children’s Services or Early Childhood, who would like to volunteer in your classroom. I always enjoy the opportunity to welcome volunteers into our centre, but it can also be tricky when they arrive without any understanding of what to expect. Inevitably there are lots (and lots!) of questions about why we do things in a certain way. Unfortunately it is impossible to answer all of those questions while still giving the children the attention they deserve! So it’s ideal if the volunteers can arrive with some sense of understanding. I therefore recommend making at least one of The Parenting 5 books a prerequisite for volunteers. When they arrange their observation time you can guide them towards the book. This little bit of ‘homework’ can help the volunteer prepare and can empower them to be an informed, useful member of the classroom community when they begin.
If your school has a Playgroup (or ‘Parent-toddler’ group) the Parenting 5 books can be a part of the parent-education. It helps provide an early foundation for parents to feel like equal partners in their child’s Montessori journey. It can also help them to begin implementing complementary principles at home as soon as possible. All Montessori educators will know that the child benefits greatly when there is harmony between the expectations at home and at school. The earlier this harmony is achieved, the better! So providing the Parenting 5 books to Playgroup parents helps set the foundations as early as possible. A school can purchase a couple of copies ready to sell to parents. Alternatively you can do what we do at my Pre-school; we actually make the first book in the series a free part of the New Enrolment Pack that a family receives when they first begin in our Playgroup. The vast majority of our families stay with us for 4 years (from starting Playgroup at age 1 through to graduating to school at 5 or 6) so $20 to support that family is really a very small cost for such a meaningful opportunity. It sets the family off on the right footing. As their time with us progresses they can choose to purchase the additional books in the series but we know that they have at least that first book to point them in the right direction.
Even if you don’t have a ‘Playgroup’ you could still make the books part of your enrolment process. Depending on the size of your school it can be a relatively small investment for the significant long-term benefit of having parents as partners.
Your school or centre could organise a Book Club for families. The Parenting 5 series are the perfect starting point because (as explained in detail above) they are accessible, parent-friendly, inspirational and informative. A parent Book Club could easily read one book per term and meet a couple of times to discuss their thoughts about the book and to share their progress in implementing the ideas at home. This not only supports parent-education but also promotes a sense of community! It helps your parents to feel connected and to build positive relationships with one another (and with the school!).
A school or centre that is not “Montessori” can also benefit from these books. The concepts, activities and environments described in the pages do not need to be exclusively applied in a “Montessori” school; they are equally beneficial to any child care centre, early learning environment or even out-of-school-hours care programs. There are lots of activity ideas that are clearly outlined, so it’s a great little source of inspiration for educators looking for fresh ideas!
If your school is looking to purchase bulk quantities of the book(s) – for instance to make it part of your Enrolment Pack for new families – we recommend contacting Ruth Barker directly at Toddler Education Services. Ruth may be able to arrange a bulk discount, depending on the volume of your order (please note this is not guaranteed, you will need to make individual arrangements with Ruth directly). Please let Ruth know that you found her via Montessori Child!