It is a huge priority for me to help build the community of this school. Offering Montessori Enrichment Seminars has been a great way to bring parents in, and offer them Montessori theory in a relatable and accessible way. I’ve noticed lately that lively discussions between the parents often follow the seminars, and I began to wonder if there was yet another way to bring the parents together. A “coffee club” seemed the natural next step.
Through the coffee club, we can offer parents a place to discuss issues that may not make it to a full seminar, or topics that would benefit from a less formal, more conversational and opinion-based climate. Tonight, I am hosting our very first ever coffee club, and I could not be more excited! We are meeting at a cafe down the road from school and are expecting a small group of about 8 parents and teachers. Though I have books and bigger topics in mind for down the road, I thought that for the first few meetings, an article may be a more appropriate goal for busy parents and teachers. So this time we will be discussing an article called “Should Babies and Toddlers Watch Television?”
Now, full disclosure: I have never attended a club of this sort. So, I found articles online about facilitating such things, and am feeling pretty prepared! To help guide the conversation, I am ready with questions like:
- Is it possible to avoid TV completely? (characters and references are EVERYWHERE, on their diapers and underwear, and their snacks and toys)
- Where and how can we draw the line with relatives who may have differing opinions about TV watching?
- Are there any shows with content appropriate for young children?
- The article (and the AAP) suggests avoiding TV before age 2, while Montessori suggests waiting till age 6, is there a middle ground?
- What about other electronics like tablets, smartphones, e-readers, and computers?
One of the parents was so interested in the idea that her child may not understand the difference between reality and the characters on TV, that she actually interviewed her child. She asked several questions about “real” and “make-believe”, whether animals can talk, and whether she could visit her favorite characters from TV. She tried showing her daughter pictures of “Olivia” and a real pig, or the “Bubbleguppies” and a goldfish, asking which was real. She was pretty surprised when her 3 year old asserted that both were real. I can only hope that all parents will be so introspective! I hope to get a real discussion going, raise awareness of the need for conscious choice, and ultimately come together as a community who cares deeply about the welfare of our children. I am very much looking forward to reporting more about our coffee club discussions!