Thursday, December 21, 2017

Noise in a Montessori Classroom
Written by:
Charlotte Wood

One of the aspects of a Montessori Classroom which people notice is the noise, or, rather, the lack thereof. It’s pretty quiet. A room full of this many adults would be louder.
It’s not silent, though, and no one is making the children be quiet. They’re quiet because they’re working, concentrating, and content.
So, what sounds do we hear?
A snippet of a song.
Someone reading or counting out loud. (Silent reading and counting come later)
Scrubbing. There’s so much washing that happens in a Montessori classroom, and vigorous scrubbing is loud, at least for Montessori standards. If a classroom feels “busy” for no apparent reason, often some gross motor work is happening.
Conversations. Various discussions, affirmations, observations are shared, primarily between children, though also between adult and child, and also as monologue.
So much is happening. The air is electric with learning and joy. Sometimes things fall. Occasionally there’s a small disagreement. But these are anomalies.
When things fall, it is not because carelessness is the norm. It is because, really and truly, sometimes things fall. We’ve all experienced this. Children walking around a classroom are, so much of the time, more aware and more careful than we are as adults, but we have the benefit of our bodies being more practiced than theirs are. Have you ever seen a child watch with terror as their snack slides off their plate, as they are carefully, precisely, inching forward, and yet there’s nothing they can do? We never carry a plate that carefully, yet only rarely drop our food. We’re not more careful, just more practiced.
When the occasional disagreement takes place, it is not because children are selfish and don’t look out for others. Children are incredibly empathetic, and look out for one another. They are upset when one of their classmates is tearful, regardless of the reason, be it a Monday morning or turkey instead of a cheese sandwich or missing a parent. A disagreement happens because, though small, these are full humans. They have their own opinions and thoughts and are free to express them. Sometimes support is required, such as by an older classmate or adult, “It sounds like you two are having a difficult time deciding who is going to eat snack/paint at the easel/use the bathroom first. When you agree, let me know!” When the children agree, both sides are contented. Adults might, on the surface, not have the same struggle. We’re more practiced at the social norms of, “no, please, after you.” but, do we really mean it? Children might express their frustration more readily, but the agreement is genuine.

The noise that happens is learning and life. It is control and synapses forming. It is joy and work, really really hard, important, valuable, life-long work. It is hushed and vigorous. It is good.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hand Washing to the Rescue

It is that time of the year.  Colds, coughs, runny noses and the dreaded flu are upon us all. Parents frequently ask what can be done to cut down on the spread of germs from child to child in school and at home.

Did you know, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of disease?  The CDC calls it a, “do-it-yourself vaccine.”   Teaching children appropriate hand hygiene habits can result in the removal of germs, preventing the spread of germs, decrease of infections, absenteeism, and associated costs.

Preschools are required to teach, model and enforce proper handwashing techniques at all times of the year.  Teaching from the earliest age with the goal of hand washing being as routine as getting dressed in the morning is a win for everyone.

Many experts agree that for hand hygiene promotion to be effective in changing behaviors and cutting down on the spread of illness, we need to create a family-centered approach. Handwashing steps utilized in schools can be reinforced at home. With parents and teachers on the same page and having consistent expectations, proper hand washing will become the norm.
Here are some tips on teaching when and how to wash hands:
When children are required to wash their hands in school:
·         Upon entering the classroom from the outside, either home or playground
·         Before eating snack or lunch
·         Before any food preparation
·         After using the toilet
·         After blowing one’s nose or touching one’s nose
·         After coughing or sneezing into one’s hands
·         After touching garbage
It is equally important to know how to wash hands for optimum results, think about these 5 simple steps:
  • Wet: Place hands under running water
  • Lather: Apply soap to hands
  • Scrub: Hands must be scrubbed for 20 seconds; rule of thumb is, count to 20 or sing or hum Happy Birthday twice
  • Rinse: Hands must be rinsed under clean, running water
  • Dry: Hands must be dried using a clean towel, or they can be air dried
Working on this at home and at school will most definitely cut down on the spread of illness and give children a healthy life long tool.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Great New Research on Montessori Outcomes!

The newest research in education has shown that Montessori early childhood education has significant advantages in several areas of learning. The study looked at seven areas; Academic Ability, Theory of Mind, Social Problem Solving, Executive Function, Mastery Orientation, School Enjoyment, and Creativity. For those of us who have seen the benefits of Montessori education first-hand, the results are not surprising. Take a look at the results yourself, published here in Frontiers in Psychology, and see if you agree!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Social Development Milestones: Ages 1 to 4
By Linda DiProperzio

Not sure if your child is on the right track for developing social skills? Be on the lookout for these indicators.

Whether you have an outgoing or shy little one, socialization is an important part of your child's overall development. "[A] baby's social development is tied to so many other areas," says Heather Wittenberg, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist specializing in child development. "Walking, in particular, triggers a cascade of milestones. And since most children begin to walk around the one-year mark, this is when you'll really start to see some big social milestones occur."
These milestones are important because they prepare a child to manage personal feelings, understand others' feelings and needs, and interact in a respectful and acceptable way. Find out what to expect when it comes to your child's social development.

Age 1
Although mommy-and-me programs are a great way to introduce your toddler to other kids, he will pick up most of his social cues from you. At this age, you'll notice your baby is able to:

Begin basic communication. One-year-olds will predominantly point and vocalize to express their intentions, says Maria Kalpidou, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. It's important to interact with your toddler by acknowledging what he's looking at and pointing out other cool things around him.
Recognize familiar people. When he sees Grandma and Grandpa, the babysitter, the pediatrician, and other familiar people, your toddler will begin to greet them with a smile (or a cry, depending on his mood!). "If the baby isn't paying attention to anyone around [him], that is definitely a red flag," Dr. Wittenberg says. "You want him to be aware of what -- and who -- is around him, even if he cries when someone besides Mom and Dad walks into the room."
Interact with you. If your child hands you toys, this shows his willingness and ability to engage with others. This also sets the stage for lessons in taking turns, but don't expect too much on the sharing front just yet. "Back-and-forth playing is so important," Dr. Wittenberg says. "You want your child to show signs of independence but also to be keyed into appropriate social situations."

Age 2
Around this age, your child is engaging more with those around her, but she still prefers to play with Mom and Dad. Right now, your child is able to:

Begin to socialize. Children typically engage in parallel play at this age; this means that they play next to instead of with each other. "There isn't a lot of interaction with kids at this stage but it's still important to give your child time with other kids," Dr. Wittenberg says.

Defend territory. This is the age where kids start fighting over toys and declaring, "It's mine!" Sharing is, of course, very difficult at this age, as 2-year-olds can't see another child's perspective. "Their social behavior reflects egocentric thinking, and their behavior is guided by their desires," Dr. Kalpidou says. Model sharing and taking turns with your spouse to help your child learn these important social actions.
Extend relationships to other people. Showing an interest in others is a key part of socialization, and kids will begin to seek out interactions beyond those with Mom and Dad. Whether it's playing with Grandma and Grandpa or waving hello to the cashier at the market, your toddler is learning to enjoy the company of others. Although some kids aren't as outgoing around others, don't be so quick to label them as "shy." "Parents often see shyness as a negative, but it's normal for kids to be slow to warm [up] to people they don't know or don't see very often," Dr. Wittenberg explains. "Give your child time to adjust to new situations and follow her lead."

Age 3
Your child might soon be starting preschool, where he'll have other peers to socialize with and a chance to forge a few friendships. Right now, you'll notice that he is able to:
Seek out others. Associative play begins at this age, so your child will start to look for other kids. "It's important at this stage to give your child plenty of opportunities to spend time with peers," Dr. Wittenberg advises. But your child will need help in navigating these social situations. Although he can understand some behavioral and safety rules, offer gentle reminders about sharing and taking turns.
Use his imagination. Dress-up, pretend play, and other creative activities will be part of playdates. "Your child will also make friends based on mutual interests," Dr. Kalpidou says. The concept of sharing can still be hard for kids this age, but this is also a time where they can understand compromise and be respectful of one another. "Kids this age are more likely to solve conflicts with friends in order to maintain their play and show more positive behaviors to one another," Dr. Kalpidou adds.
Start to understand emotions. Your child still learns best from you, so point out different feelings (happy, sad, scared) when watching TV or reading a book. This will help your child be more aware of his own feelings as well as those of others. Also, kids will start to show empathy by offering hugs and kisses when needed.

Age 4
Kindergarten is right around the corner, and your big girl will soon learn the ropes of socializing with new friends. At this age, she is able to:

Show interest in being part of a group. Your child now enjoys playing with others and interacting with her peers more. Experts say this is a good age to sign kids up for a sports team, such as soccer or T-ball. "Choose activities where there aren't too many rules or restrictions," Dr. Wittenberg suggests. "If not, it can ruin the experience for them and they'll never want to play again."
Share and cooperate more with others. There will still be tugs-of-war over toys, but your child can understand the concept of sharing and waiting her turn. "There is an increased awareness of other people's minds, which allows children to develop negotiation skills, resolve conflicts verbally, monitor the emotional state of a group, and regulate other children's behavior," Dr. Kalpidou says.
Be physically affectionate. By now your little one is offering plenty more hugs and kisses to you and showing affection toward family and friends, especially when she sees them in distress. "Kids this age engage in more pro-social behaviors, such as sharing and expressing sympathy," Dr. Kalpidou says.
Exert more independence. The catch-22 of parenting is that you want your child to be more independent, but she often picks the worst times to do things her way, as when she insists on dressing herself when you're running late, or when she wants to help you put away her toys (but in the wrong place). Still, being confident and comfortable in her own abilities is an important part of successfully socializing, especially as she gets older.
Copyright © 2013 Meredith Corporation.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Read -Read- Read The Importance of Reading to your Child from an Early Age

“Just one more please,” these are magical words to a parent’s ear.  Not many children will pass up a book.

New research at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting shows that reading books with a child beginning in early infancy can boost vocabulary and reading skills four years later, before the start of elementary school.
The abstract, “Early Reading Matters: Long-term Impacts of Shared Book reading with Infants and Toddlers on Language and Literacy Outcomes,” was presented on at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco.
“These findings are exciting because they suggest that reading to young children, beginning even in early infancy, has a lasting effect on language, literacy and early reading skills,” said Carolyn Cates, PhD, lead author and research assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine. “What they’re learning when you read with them as infants,” she said, “still has an effect four years later when they’re about to begin elementary school.”
Research also shows that reading to a child at any age: 
·         Increases/enhances vocabulary
·         Strengthens bonds between child and parent
·         Supports prereading skills
  Supports communication
·         Increases a child’s independent reading

As the holiday season approaches and the time for gift buying and giving is upon us, let us not forget to include books in the buying and giving.  Make sure there is lots of family time planned with reading time at the top of the list. 
Happy reading!

For more information on the benefits click on the link below.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Why Kids Benefit From Fewer Toys
 May 25, 2017 

Renown child educator, Maria Montessori said “Play is the child’s work.” She meant that children are not just playing when they play, but they are working. Play is an important part of child development, and the types of toys that a child interacts with shapes their understanding of the world around them. Toys are the tools children use to accomplish their work, but it is best for the amount of toys that a child has to be limited.

Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., writes about the importance of play in his award-winning book Playful Parenting. He states ‘Through play, they (children) practice cooking, cleaning, going to work, fighting, taking care of the baby—every adult activity they see around them. This kind of playful practice, performed over and over, makes them more confident.’ The author also says that play helps children cope with problems ranging from big traumas to little upsets and helps them process the new information they receive every day.
Toys help children play. They also help children self-entertain and become independent. It may seem that more toys provide more entertainment and help the child work, but that is not the case.
Here are reasons why it is best to keep toys minimal and simple:
1. Kids with less use their imagination more. Without many toys, children use their craft of pretending to imagine the scenario in which they are working. Studies show that Einstein was right when he stated that “the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

2. Kids maintain focus. Less toys mean less distractions teaching the child to focus on the task at hand. Toys that provide excess stimulation have been linked to ADHD.
3. Kids interact more with others. Communications skills are not innate; they are learned. Having less stuff allows for less to get in the way of social interactions. When children pretend together, they communicate together.
4. Kids learn to respect what they have. A child is more likely to value their work when they know they don’t have replacements.
5. Kids are more educated. When you choose toys like books, blocks, art supplies and puzzles, children work on skills like reading, building, drawing, and writing. Such toys can incorporate lessons about the world that the child is immersed in rather than distract them from it.

6. Kids become resourceful. Kids learns to use what they have to get the job done.
7. Kids share. As parents, we want our children to put people over possessions and to not be greedy. Interacting with others without objects coming between them allows children to value people over things.
8. Kids learn mastery. As a child focuses on a certain toy, they learn to master it and to be proud of their accomplishments.
9. Kids realize they can’t have everything they want. As it goes, “you can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.” Parents may worry that not giving their child what their peers have may make them unpopular or feel under privileged, but it teaches them that a persons identity is built by character, not possessions.
10. Kids appreciate nature. Children have tons of fun outdoors once they are out there, but it may be hard to get them outside if they have endless entertainment inside the home.
11. Kids learn to be happy with what they have. What a child needs most is love, and they will learn that love and happiness can’t be bought.
12. Kids learn the value of having a tidy environment.. A child will not have to dig through toy boxes and dump things about because having minimal toys allows for “a place for everything, and everything in its place.”
So what can you do when family and friends flood your house with toys for your children?
Over time, children will get bored with their toys and need more variety, but they do not need all of the toys at once. Toys can be stored and rotated to introduce new toys while keeping the amount of toys in use minimal.
Parents can kindly suggest that family members give toys like blocks, balls, shapes, puzzles and art supplies rather than loud, flashy objects and that require little to no imagination or fine motor skills. You can also request non-toy gifts or encourage the child to give excess to charity. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Celebrating Inclusion Awareness Month

This month the children of Westmont participated in a presentation all about inclusion and acceptance. Westmont parents and founders of Lily's Angels, Kristen Friscia-Benitez and Pepe Benitez, shared a little about what life is like for those with Down's Syndrome and other differences and then invited the children to try some activities.

Children visited sensory tables with motor activities, helping them to understand how difficult even the simplest of tasks can be when impaired. For example, at one table children were asked to color while wearing an oversized glove (representing a motor processing disorder). The children remarked how much more difficult it was to color when they couldn't feel their fingers.

The presentation wrapped up with the message that we are all different but we are all special!

Lily's Angels is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing awareness about Down's Syndrome, as well as providing therapy sponsorship to families with financial need. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Grace and Courtesy for Life

Colette B. Cross

Dr. Maria Montessori said, “ A child who becomes a master of his acts through repeated exercises of grace and courtesy and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.”

At the core of Montessori education is the emphasis on Grace and Courtesy.   Children are immersed in this Practical Life curriculum from the moment they enter the classroom.  All children are treated with dignity and respect.  Lessons in grace and courtesy are role modeled and presented daily.   Children who practice and live by these lessons develop critical life skills and healthy societal values that enable them to recognize social cues, respond to, and interact with others appropriately.  They  learn to understand that they have responsibilities to others and are setting themselves up to develop  a social conscience.  This graciousness and courteousness paves the way for community development, teamwork, and peaceful living.
Lessons are simple, life lasting, and include, but are not limited to:

  •  Greeting others by name
  •  Saying please and thank you
  •  Introducing a family member or friend
  •  Waiting one’s turn
  •  Cleaning up after oneself
  •  Setting a table
  •  Listening to the words of others
  •  Asking to join an activity
  •   How to decline an invitation graciously
  •  Showing a younger friend how to do something
  •  Helping without being asked
  •  Respecting personal space  Using words to problem solve
  •   Respecting belongings, self, and others
  •  Being responsible for the environment/taking care of pets and plants

These lessons are easy to role model and implement.  Home and school can work hand in hand to develop ethical individuals who will support a graceful and courteous world.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Celebrate the Power of Reading 

Reading aloud with young children — whether in the classroom, at home, or in the community — builds literacy and language skills and provides positive reading experiences that instill a love of reading. 

Celebrate with Westmont next Thursday, October 19 with #ReadfortheRecord! #ReadConnectSucceed, as we read Liz Wong's QUACKERS, as part of the world’s largest shared reading experience.

Jumpstart’s Read for the Record® (RFTR) is a national campaign that was launched over a decade ago to address the educational inequities that leave too many children unprepared for kindergarten. On Thursday, October 19, 2017, millions of children and adults will gather to learn, laugh, and read this year’s campaign book, Quackers by Liz Wong, as part of the world’s largest shared reading experience.

Read for the Record inspires adults to read with children, spurs policymakers and organizations to take action towards transformative change in early education, and puts books in the hands of more children across the country.

For more information please visit: 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Nut-Free Snacks for Lunch or Birthday Celebrations

Sometimes coming up with nutritious and nut-free food choices for our children can seem like an impossible mission, but there are actually many great choices! Here are a few recipes for snacks that would be great to share for birthday celebrations or to put in your child's lunch box.

Fully-Loaded Snack Bars

And if you are looking for just some basic items to put into your child's lunch beyond fruit and sandwiches, here are some things that you may not have thought of to include:

Nut-Free Spreads/Dips
  • Plain hummus
  • Sunflower Seed Spread
  • Guacamole
  • Soy Nut Butter

  • Fresh vegetables (carrots, celery, broccoli florets, bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes)
  • Fresh Fruits (apples, oranges, banana, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, pear, kiwi, blueberries, etc.)
  • Applesauce cup or pouch
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Mandarin orange fruit cup
  • Raisins
  • Dried Fruit

  • Cheese (stick, cube, round, slice)
  • Yogurt (watch out for granola or cookies on top that may contain nuts)
  • Pudding cup

  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers (Wheat Thins, Saltines, plain Triscuits)
  • Rice cakes
  • Goldfish/Cheddar bunnies
  • Sunchips
  • Potato chips
  • Popcorn
  • Tortilla chips
  • Pita chips
  • Pirate’s Booty

  • Teddy Grahams
  • Graham Crackers
  • Nilla wafers
  • Fruit leather
  • Fruit snacks 
  • Fig Newtons
  • Jello cup

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

5 Clever Hacks to Simplify Any Family's Morning Routine

Getting the family out the door on time every morning is no small feat. Seemingly simple tasks like getting dressed, packing backpacks and making breakfast can quickly turn into chaos. Before you know it, you're running late and the kids haven't even eaten as you dash to the car.
Stop dreading the stressful start to the day and start taking control of your mornings. A few simple tips and tricks will turn the morning craze into smooth sailing. Plus, when you have a stress-free start, the rest of the day just seems to go better.

Select a week's worth of clothes Sunday night.
Instead of choosing outfits the night prior, supersize your time-saving efforts by doing this task just once on Sunday night. Involve kids in selecting their clothes for the week so they feel empowered in their choices. Then hang entire outfits in the closet or stack in one drawer dedicated to weekday wear. When mornings come, kids know exactly where to find the day's duds. Bonus: you don't have to worry about midweek laundry.

Create a routine, and set alarms.
Create a morning routine and stick to it. For example, kids wake at 7 a.m., eat breakfast at 7:15 a.m., get dressed and ready at 7:30 a.m., then out the door by 8 a.m. And if the kids need to share a bathroom, set a daily bathroom schedule with alarms to keep kids on track and avoid arguments in the morning.

Get ready before waking up the kids.
Trying to ready yourself for the day while helping the kids is a recipe for disaster. This is why waking before the rest of the family really makes mornings happier. Try getting up 30 minutes before the kids so you have time to get ready and enjoy a cup of coffee. You'll be fully awake, much happier and can focus on helping the kids stay on-task.

Create morning rules.
Just like you don't let kids eat dessert before dinner to ensure they eat well, set rules for the morning to keep things moving. For example, no TV until all morning tasks are completed. For teens, smartphones and other mobile devices must remain on the kitchen table until they are ready to go.

 Sundays = meal prep.
Make a week's worth of sandwiches or other lunches on Sunday and put them in the freezer. This way lunch items are ready to go and the sandwiches will be thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime. For breakfast, make it easy for kids by setting out shelf-stable items they can make themselves. New Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread keeps mornings interesting. Set out a jar by a loaf of bread and kids can quickly make a tasty sandwich they'll devour. Learn more at

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

7 key phrases Montessori teachers use and why we should use them, too

Montessori can be hard to sum up in just a few words—it is a philosophy on education and child development that runs deep. It’s a way of seeing the world. I think one of the easiest ways to get an idea for what Montessori means is to listen to the language that Montessori teachers use.
Montessori teachers use language that respects the child and provides consistent expectations. Words are chosen carefully to encourage children to be independent, intrinsically motivated critical thinkers.
Here are seven common phrases you’d probably hear in any Montessori classroom, and how to incorporate them into your home life.

1. “I saw you working hard.”
The focus on process over product is a key tenet of Montessori. We avoid telling the children “good work” or “your work is beautiful” and instead comment on how they concentrated for a long time, or how they wrote so carefully and their work could be easily read by anyone.
Praising your child’s hard work, rather than his results, helps instill a growth mindset where he believes he can improve through his own efforts.
Instead of telling your child, “You’re a good boy,” tell him “I noticed you being kind to your little brother yesterday when you shared your truck.” This shows him you see his good behavior, without placing judgments on him. Instead of telling him, “You’re such a good artist,” try, “I noticed you kept working on your picture until you got it just how you wanted it.”

2. “What do you think about your work?”
In Montessori, the child is his own teacher. The teachers are there as guides to give him lessons and help him but he discovers things for himself through the carefully prepared environment and materials.
Self-analysis is a big part of that discovery.
When your child asks you, “Do you like my picture?” try asking her about it instead of just saying you love it. Ask her what she thinks about it, how she decided what colors to use, and what her favorite part is. Help her start to evaluate her work for herself, rather than looking for your approval.

3. “Where could you look for that?”
Independence is another key value in any Montessori classroom or home. Our goal as teachers is to help the children do things for themselves. So while it’s sometimes easier to simply answer a child’s question about where something is or how to do something, we often answer questions with another question such as, “Where could you look for that?” or “Which friend could you ask for help?”
If your son loses his shoe and you see it peeking out from under the bed, try asking leading questions, rather than just handing it to him.
“Where were you when you took your shoes off? Have you checked your room?” This may take a little more time, but it will be worth it when he starts taking more initiative and coming to you less.

4. “Which part would you like my help with?”
In a Montessori classroom, children are responsible for many things, including taking care of their environment. Children often take great pride in this responsibility, spending time arranging flowers to put on tables, watering the garden, and happily washing the windows and tables.
Sometimes though, a job is just too big and overwhelming. In these cases, we ask the child how we can help. We don’t want to swoop in and “save the day,” sending the message that the child is not capable, but we also don’t want to leave the child overwhelmed.
For example: If your child is tired, but needs to put her Legos away before bed, all of those pieces can be overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing though. Try “which color would you like me to put away” or “I’ll put away the yellow pieces and you put away the blue” to show that you’re in it together.

5. “In our class, we ….” (Or at home— “In our home, we…”)
This little phrase is used to remind the children of any number of classroom rules and desired behaviors. Phrasing reminders as objective statements about how the community works, rather than barking commands, is much more likely to elicit cooperation from a child.
“In our class, we sit while we eat” is less likely to incite a power struggle than “Sit down.”
Like all of us, children want to be a part of the community, and we simply remind them of how the community works.
If you have a rule about walking in the house, instead of “stop running,” try saying “we walk inside our house” and see if you get fewer arguments.

6. “Don’t disturb him, he’s concentrating.”
Protecting children’s concentration is a fundamental part of the Montessori philosophy. Montessori classes give children big blocks of uninterrupted work time, usually three hours. This allows children to develop deep concentration, without being disturbed because the schedule says it’s time to move on to learning something else.
It can be tempting to compliment a child who is working beautifully, but sometimes even making eye contact is enough to break their concentration.
Next time you walk by your child while he’s focused on drawing a picture or building a tower, try just walking by instead of telling him how great it is. You can make a mental note and tell him later that you noticed him concentrating so hard on his creation.

7. “Follow the Child.”
This last one is an important one. It’s something Montessori teachers say to each other and to parents—not to the child. We often remind each other to “follow the child,” to trust that each child is on his or her own internal developmental timeline, that he is doing something for a reason.
This reminds us to search for the reason behind the behavior. It reminds us that not all children will be walking by one or reading by four—they haven’t read the books and couldn’t care less about the milestones they are “supposed to” reach.
Following the child means remembering that each child is unique and has his own individual needs, passions, and gifts, and he should be taught and guided accordingly.
If you can’t get your child interested in reading, try watching what he does love—if he loves being silly, it may be that a joke book is what piques his interest, not the children’s classic you had in mind. Remembering to “follow your child” can help you see him in a different way and work with him instead of against him.
One of beautiful things about Montessori is that it is so much more than a type of education—it is a way of seeing and being with children. Even if your child does not go to Montessori school, you can easily bring the ideas into your home and watch your child’s independence and concentration grow.

Christina is a Montessori teacher for 3-6 year olds, certified by the American Montessori Society. She currently stays home to take care of her son, James. She lives in Austin, Texas, and writes a blog,, chronicling her journey through motherhood the Montessori way.