I have been contemplating the approach of targeting large corporate employers as “gateway clients” to bring Montessori education to more families.
Many large corporate employers provide in-house childcare for employees. This is considered a perk or benefit for the employee due to it’s convenience and sometimes reduced cost, but it also benefits the employer by increasing productivity and attendance.
My thinking is that the childcare center is often managed by a single member of management, or a small board of interested employees. This individual or small group is the gateway client to a larger number of families. Rather than trying to convince every employee with small kids that Montessori is the better option, if we can convince the gateway clients to switch to Montessori practices, we get most of the other families in the bargain.
Some families might be upset at the perceived loss of choice if their childcare switches to Montessori without their input, but there is a more gentle approach in large facilities with multiple childcare rooms. Convincing the gateway clients to try a Montessori 1 environment, competing head-to-head with their existing program could gradually and inclusively gathering families. I certainly believe that if a Montessori toddler room were next door to a traditional toddler room, with the same cost and convenience, that within a matter of years the Montessori toddler environment would win over all the families.
I believe it is crucial while Montessori environments are competing with traditional preschools to reduce or eliminate the non-pedagogical factors influencing the parents decision. If both schools are equally convenient and similar in cost, then I think Montessori will triumph every time in a head to head competition. Large corporate daycare provide convenience and cost effectiveness that makes it very hard to compete, so let’s change that.
A curious footnote about corporate childcare: Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergei Brin, both Montessori children who frequently and publicly attribute much of their success to their years in a Montessori classroom. Mr Brin spoke at the 2007 AMI Refresher in San Francisco.
And yet, the daycare provided to employees by Google is not Montessori based. It is described thus, “These family-focused centers integrate play-based philosophies into the curriculum, such as Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE), Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC), and the Reggio Emilia Approach.”
For more information, check out this ad for Google Children’s Center Teacher.