Despite fears of failure, 88% of parents are seeing new skills and learning from their children at home.

The Montessori Group has published new research that explores parent’s home learning concerns, celebrates children’s progress, and highlights a desire for future reform of early years education.

Home learning

The new survey of 1,000 parents of children aged 3-11, reveals 85% of parents admire and are proud of the way their children have adapted to lockdown. 88% recognise that their children are still developing and learning at home, with 65% even being inspired by their children’s attitude to life and learning. 84% of parents are keen to try and maintain positive aspects of lockdown after restrictions lift.

While some worry they must recreate the classroom environment at home (38%), most parents are spending more time playing (74%), talking and answering questions (80%), and cooking (74%) with their children than ever before. Parents have had time to get to know their children even better, with 48% finding out something new about their child’s personality, and 39% discovering a skill they didn’t know their child had. 46% think their child is more responsive to learning with less routine and pressure, with 69% believe children should have more time for freedom and play at school.

Nevertheless, parents still feel the pressure. 57% feel guilty they are not doing home schooling ‘right’ and 54% are even afraid they are failing their child. Over half (54%) of parents recognise that added pressure comes from themselves, while 34% think it derives from social media, rather than teachers or other parents. The compulsion to compare is also common, with half of parents (50%) comparing themselves to other parents.

Leonor Stjepic, CEO of Montessori Group UK, said: We hope these findings reassure parents and help them understand that what they are doing for their children is enough. What we are going through is already difficult, and added guilt and pressure about their children’s learning is not needed.”

Leonor Stjepic, CEO of Montessori Group UK

The future of Early Years education

The lockdown has also presented an opportunity for parents to assess what’s most important to their child’s development and reimagine the education and the early years structure.

A renewed focus on life skills has prompted 73% of parents to think school should dedicate more time to developing practical skills such as cooking. Thinking about their child’s development, and what skills they value most, it is kindness (68%), confidence (67%) and communication skills (49%) that come up top – far above maths (20%) and science (5%) skills.

87% of parents believe that the current education system needs updating to focus more on soft skills such as creativity, resilience, independence and leadership. 78% of parents think the pressures of the current education system, including testing from a young age, can have a negative impact on children.

Attitudes to nurseries

While many nurseries are struggling through coronavirus – with 80% of Montessori nurseries at risk of closure – spending more time with children during lockdown has allowed parents to see the early years and education sector in a new light. 77% of parents have an increased sense of respect for how hard teachers and nursery staff work and 50% admit to underappreciating how hard nursery staff and teachers work in the past.

After hearing that 20% of the Early Years workforce rely on foodbanks, a further 74% of parents are shocked that nursery staff are paid so little.

In publishing the results, The Montessori Group is calling on people to ensure learnings from lockdown are reflected in educational reform, increased support for the Early Years workforce, and small changes to families’ daily lives.

Leonor Stjepic said, “It’s clear that, following this crisis, education can never be the same. Through spending time at home, parents have seen that the qualities we value in our children are not the focus of our education system. Reform must acknowledge that so that children can thrive.

“It is not acceptable that so many nurseries are worried about their financial future post Covid-19. It’s essential that government provides the necessary support for nurseries to stay open so that, once lockdown ends, we have a sustainable sector that enables parents to return to work and the economy to recover.”

The Montessori Group offers parents the space to share experiences and find free online webinars and resources on practical ways to bring the Montessori principles into your daily routine at home.

Information can be found here.