AMS China Spotlight: Potato Blossom Todcare Montessori School and Its Community-Driven Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

AMS China Spotlight - Potato Blossom School - School group photo

“We must help children from the very beginning. We must give them the right environment because they have to adapt themselves to a strange new world.” - Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures, p. 115

Potato Blossom (Todcare) Kindergarten School in Henan Zhengzhou, China was founded in early 2019, a year before the onset of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

AMS China Spotlight - Potato Blossom School - School gatesThe school leadership invested great effort to become a community-based kindergarten. When the school first opened, the head of school and other school leaders worked closely with parents on overcoming the perceived divide between home and school. They educated parents to break themselves of the thinking that, “School is where children learn, and home is where they live.”

School leaders and teachers taught parents about the critical roles that home and other social environments play in the child’s development. They shared how Dr. Montessori had emphasized that when it comes to educating children, learning happens constantly both at school and in the home; when the family and school are working collaboratively, the child can thrive.

After just a year of normal operations and as the world was in the midst of the global pandemic, the new school faced unprecedented challenges—isolations and quarantines for both students and staff, deaths and other horrendous tragedies in students’ families, barriers to healthcare, the suspension of classes due to flooding, and much more.

AMS China Spotlight - Potato Blossom School - Flooding with School BusAs a result, the school leadership grappled with a very clear question: “How do we overcome these obstacles and continue to offer an authentic Montessori environment which allows our students to grow and thrive?”

The school incorporated innovative approaches—including purchasing and using floater boats, coordinating with the local emergency department to help transport community members to and from the flooded area, offering nutritious meals, and increasing contact with families—to ensure students could maintain their Montessori education. The school’s teachers and leaders remained nimble in how they maintained rigorous standards and in how the schools collaborated with families and the overall community.

Close student observation has also been a vital tool in meeting the needs of each child. By closely observing children, Potato Blossom teachers learn how they can better support students and their development. In addition, this close observation also allows the staff to better understand the needs of the entire family—and thus help create a collaborative path to how the school can help meet these needs.

“We have tried to process the events of the last few years not just as the adults we are,” shared Rihanna Zhao, head of school of Potato Blossom. “We have also worked to see what the children have seen—to experience and process things through their eyes. We hope that the children have seen the power of teamwork, persistence, and courage.”

The two videos below depict some of the challenges Potato Blossom (Todcare) Kindergarten faced from 2020 until 2023 and how the school staff and community came together to overcome these difficulties.

About the Author


Rihanna Zhao, is a national second level psychological consultant, parent toddler classroom and early education guide/teacher, and principal in Henan Province, China. She is the founder of Potato Blossom Kindergarten/Todcare School. She has served as the head of the College of Preschool Education and completed AMS 0 - 3 certification. Rihanna is a senior lecturer and has been recognized for education system quality by the Henan Provincial Department.

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The opinions expressed in Montessori Life are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of AMS.

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