- July 2023
- Previous Entry: Starting a Montessori School Part 3
It’s been a long time since posting about the school progress. The last post was about January!
This stretch has been painfully slow and stressful. I was having writers block because I didn’t know how to share about it. But I got some kind comments on the previous posts, so I’m buckling down to share more!
I’m writing on July 2, 2023 and the first day of school is August 14, 2023.
We never found a contractor, everyone we talked to either didn’t return calls, didn’t show up, or asked a price that was “we don’t want to work with you” high. We did find someone who would raise the building (but no other work), but for a variety of reasons, the material costs got so high that we could no longer afford to hire that builder.
We are building it ourselves.
- We have all of the groundwork finished. (Shoutout to Bobby Cowger!)
- The foundation is in and has completely cured.
- The clam-shell parking lot is complete.
- My husband has worked out most of the electrical, HVAC, and plumbing mechanical work and has ordered a lot of those supplies. (Before he was an engineer, we worked construction.)
- The building materials are paid for and we expect the delivery to be this week.
This all stresses me out immensely, but I didn’t come this far to only get this far. Stay tuned for pictures of me in overalls with my pink hammer.
Marketing & Events
I’ll be frank, this is hard. I’ve been attending events in a few nearby towns. I have a little booth and I set out materials for the children to try. I have designed and printed flyers, brochures, business cards and more. I pack up my car and drive out, then talk to folks in the community for a couple hours. Everyone has been incredibly warm and welcoming.
What I’ve done and lessons learned:
You have to know how to describe what Montessori is!
It’s really hard to describe Montessori Education!! It’s so different (in every way) from conventional education. I can think of dozens of ways to describe this method that are all correct, but not useful to someone who doesn’t already know what you’re talking about. There’s too much room for misinterpretation.
- Montessori Education is hands-on and reality-based
- Montessori Education is child-led
- Montessori Education is education for agency
- Montessori Education is The Scientific Pedagogy
How do you share this method in a couple sentences so that it makes sense?
I’ve started to describe Montessori Education as “Time-Variable, Mastery-Fixed” and that has resonated with families immensely. The real impact is when you describe conventional schools as “Time-Fixed, Mastery-Variable.” I talk about this a smidge in my Mixed-Ages blog post, and I’ll write more about it in the future.
I’m a systems level thinker, for a while in college, I thought I might become a Systems Engineer. I like thinking about all how all the moving pieces come together to make an integrated whole. (Much like Montessori Education as a whole!) Setting up my “enrollment system” was a challenge, but I think I’ve gotten the essential elements/tools sorted out. You can see this process in my menu bar above.
- Parent Inquiry
- Schedule a Tour
- Family applies/ get on the waitlist
- Send enrollment offer/ set up tuition and billing
The difficulty is that interested families will reach out to you in many different ways (email, phone calls, website, etc.) and each family needs to have personalized follow-ups, because each family has unique needs. Automated messages would never work, and manually messaging dozens of families every week leaves a lot of room for mistakes (forgetting folks, getting them mixed-up, etc.).
In “the biz,” software that manages this is called CRM. CRM software is really expensive. So, like every other scrappy entrepreneur, I made a DIY system. I’m mostly using Trello with built in automations to make checklists and some Zapier integrations with Calendly. Most of it is still manual. I’ll share more about this some other time.
Since my last Starting a Montessori School post, I’ve made and published:
- The Timeline of Humans (both Vinyl and Digital)
- The New Fundamental Needs Chart
- History Questions Charts
- Economics Nomenclature
- The Long Black Strip
- All of the Grammar Command Cards
- Clock of Eons
- Geologic Time Cards
- And More!
There are a few more things I want to make before the start of school, but almost all of my big projects are complete.
Fresh Blog Posts:
- Culture: A Reorientation of the Montessori History Curriculum
- I think this is a great post. It is the culmination of a lot of reading and thinking about history. All of the history materials sold in Rhyme and Reason Academy shop are going to be circling around this premise of “Culture” being the foundation for history.
- Teaching Letter-Names First: A Critical Response
- Behind the scenes, I got a lot of heat for this post. I stand by what I said.
- Montessori Planes of Development: A Guide to Understanding Child Development
- Sweet and short. I rerecorded a presentation I had given live to families at a previous school.
- The Montessori Long Black Strip: A Powerful Tool for Teaching Children the History of Earth
- A tutorial for making your own Long Black Strip!
- Montessori Elementary Science Shelves
- A simple prepared environment post. After I published the Physical Science Experiments cards, I made a round up post for all the materials you need to actually perform those experiments.
None of this would be possible without my amazing husband and our incredibly supportive network of friends and family.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude.