Pamela Strode has always had a passion for caring for infants and toddlers. After getting her early childhood education master’s at the University of Hawaii and her Montessori credentials at the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies, she decided to open her own Montessori center (Strode Montessori) in Oahu, Hawaii, the first of its kind on the island.
After giving birth to three children, Pam has had to balance her life as a mom and as a business owner. Below, she shares with us what inspired her to open her own Montessori school as well as some helpful tips for parents exploring the Montessori philosophy for their children.
Name: Pam Strode
Education: Master of Education, University of Hawaii
Children: Two boys and one girl (ages 1-5)
What inspired you to open up your own Montessori daycare center in Hawaii?
Back in 2010, when I decided to open a Montessori daycare, there were no infant and toddler Montessori centers on Oahu. I fell in love with the age group and the early childhood development part of it. Since there wasn’t one for me to go and work at, I decided to open my own.
What was one of your biggest challenges when trying to start your own business?
I would say there is a lot of red tape to have to get through and a pretty big financial burden when you’re opening a daycare or preschool in Hawaii because it takes months to get licensed after your building permit is closed. It’s a long time to be paying rent with no income, and that is, I think, the biggest holdup for most people: to try to get licensed.
What is one of your favorite parts of running a daycare center?
My favorite part about it for sure is the relationships that I get to have with each child and their family. I really feel like I get to be a partner in the earliest development of each of these children, and that is just so cool.
What is it like to run your own business while raising your kids?
I would say in one word: busy! I have to remind myself to kind of stay in the moments when I’m at home and stay in the moments when I’m at work. Because when you are a business owner, it’s 24 hours a day, and when you’re a mom, it’s 24 hours a day, so I try to really enjoy each of them.
How has COVID affected your business?
It’s not fun to wear masks every day all day and to constantly remind children to put their masks on, but I’m so grateful that we get to remain open and that we still have some sense of normalcy through it all. I sincerely hope that more people can do their part by getting vaccinated so we can all get back to normal.
Do you have any advice for moms who want to start their own businesses?
I think every person can do anything that they set their mind to and that they want to do. The biggest advice I have is just to stay organized and make sure to make a cost analysis so that you know you can be profitable. Celebrate the little wins and when things get hard, take a step back to remind yourself why you are doing it.
Do you have any helpful tips for parents on what to look for when searching for a Montessori school?
My best advice is to do a little research on the Montessori philosophy ahead of time and make sure you feel it is a good fit for your family. It’s important to work as a team, so discipline styles and language should be similar at home and at school to promote consistency for your child. If your child has this consistency, they can build up their self-esteem, independence, and concentration.
How can parents bring the Montessori method home for everyday life?
I would say yes, Montessori is a philosophical approach to teaching, but it’s really a way of life. And so bringing it into your home life is just so wonderful, and there are a few ways to do that:
- Be intentional with the language you use with your child. Make sure that the child and the adult always can have mutual respect for each other by treating each other with kindness.
- Help your child clean up their environment. The environment should also be a teacher to the child, not only the adults. So if your child is bored or knocking things off the shelves or running around crazy, then they’re just not interested in what’s going on, and it’s the adult’s responsibility to change that. Try putting out toys that can pique your child’s interest and that are self-correcting so that they can build up their self-esteem.
- Help your child care for their own environment. Allow your child to be independent, prepare their own food, get themselves dressed, water the plants, feed the animals, and make their own beds. [This will help them] really feel like they’re a part of their own community, whether it be your small family community or the larger community of your school or your city.
What are some questions that parents can ask a potential Montessori provider?
Think about things that are important to you such as specific values, the language used at school, the daily routine, and parent involvement.
Is there any other information you would like to share?
I feel like as a female business owner, it is really important to be that positive role model in my daughter’s life and in other’s lives and to show everyone that we can do this. You can be a business owner and a mom, and you can do both really well if you want to.