Supporting Your Child’s School

When you enroll your child in a Montessori school, you join a warm and welcoming community of teachers, students, and families. Being an active part of that community can bring many rewards: a voice in your child’s education; greater contact with teachers and school administrators; and a window into the Montessori way, among others.

There are many ways to support your child’s school, even if you have little time to spare. Volunteers are an asset to any school. So are parents who stay informed and interested in the school community, as well as those who contribute financially.

One of the best ways to support your child’s school is to learn about the Montessori approach and practice it at home. Bridging how your child learns at school and at home benefits your child, your family, and the entire school community.


Getting Involved

All vibrant school communities need extra hands on deck, though the particulars for pitching in may vary from school to school. Teachers may welcome parents into the classroom to help with activities or to share special skills. Parent committees run many school-wide functions, such as art shows, class picnics, and fund-raising events. If you can’t volunteer on a regular basis, choose an event that works for you. If you’re a working parent, ask about ways you can help from home.

Check with your school to see how you can get involved. You may be able to—

  • serve on the school’s Parent Teacher Organization;
  • share cultural or ethnic celebrations with your child’s class;
  • plan or supervise excursions or service projects;
  • help plant a Peace Garden;
  • … and much more!


Staying Informed

Make it a point to know what’s going on at your child’s school. Read school newsletters and e-mails, and attend conferences and meetings. Ask your child about her day.

Getting to know the teachers and administrators will also help you feel connected. Ask for the best time and way to reach them—to ask questions, share insights, and suggest ideas.

Many Montessori schools hold parent education meetings, a great way to learn more about Montessori and general parenting issues.

Offering Financial Support

Many Montessori schools are privately owned and funded by tuition revenue. Like other private schools, they depend on contributions to pay for special programs such as tuition assistance and teacher enrichment, to undertake capital improvements, and to purchase items beyond the school’s operating budget.

Public Montessori schools also hold fundraisers or accept donations to support field trips, cultural events, and other program enhancements.

You can help by working on fundraising events and contributing financially to support your child’s school.

Originally published on the American Montessori Society Website.

Superwoman Was Already Here!

Watch Daniel Petter-Lipstein’s Fastdraw video and discover how this Montessori Madman is answering the big question in the national discussion on education.

Daniel created, wrote and narrated his own animation based on his article, “Superwoman Was Already Here“.

He offers three reasons why he loves Montessori and believes that millions more of American children could benefit from this extraordinary approach to teaching and learning:

  1. Curiosity

  2. No Homework

  3. Calm and Peaceful Classroom Environment

He concludes that Montessori can be a great educational experience for many, many more American children and he urges all parents to spend two hours visiting a high-quality Montessori school, one that is certified by either the American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori Internationale (AMI)-USA. Read the entire article here…

Daniel C. Petter-Lipstein is the father of three children that thrive at Yeshivat Netivot Montessori, a Jewish Montessori school in NJ. He graduated from Harvard College and Columbia Law School and after a decade still finds satisfaction as a lawyer, though he sometimes wishes he could just take a month off and audit his daughters’ 4-6th grade upper elementary class where they are learning concepts like stellar nucleosynthesis and studying the history of marbles and creating their own marble games.

10 Keys to Successful Parenting

© Kathryn Kvols 2008

It is important to discipline in a way that teaches responsibility by motivating our children internally, to build their self-esteem and help them feel loved. The following ten keys use methods that have been proven to provide children with a sense of well-being and security.


  1. Use Genuine Encounter Moments (GEMS)

  2. Your child’s self-esteem is greatly influenced by the quality of time you spend with him not the amount of time that you spend. With our busy lives, we are often thinking about the next thing that we have to do, instead of putting 100% focused attention on what our child is saying to us. We often pretend to listen or ignore our child’s attempts to communicate with us.

    Negative attention to a child is better than being ignored. By giving our child GEMS throughout the day, he will be less likely to misbehave.

    It is also important to recognize that feelings are neither right nor wrong. Feelings just are. So when your child says to you, “Mommy, you never spend time with me”, (even though you just played with her) she is expressing what she feels. It is best at these times to validate her feelings by saying, “Yeah, I bet it feels like we don’t get enough time together.”

  3. Use Action, Not Words

  4. Statistics report we give our children over 2000 compliance requests a day! No wonder our children become “parent deaf!” Instead of nagging or yelling, ask yourself, “What action can I take?” For example, if you have repeatedly asked your child about unrolling his socks when he takes them off, then only wash socks that are unrolled. Actions speak louder than words.

  5. Give Children Appropriate Ways to Feel Powerful

  6. Children need to feel powerful. By giving them appropriate ways to feel powerful, you will diminish the number of power struggles in your family. Some ways to help children feel powerful and valuable are to ask their advice, give them choices, let them help you balance your check book, cook part or all of a meal, or help you shop. A two-year-old can wash plastic dishes, wash vegetables or put napkins on a table. Often we do the job for them because we can do it with less hassle, but the result is that they don’t feel valuable.

  7. Use Natural Consequences

  8. Ask yourself what would happen if I didn’t interfere in this situation? For example, if your child forgets her lunch, don’t bring it to her, allowing her to find a solution, and learning the importance of being responsible for herself. If we interfere when we don’t need to, we rob children of the chance to learn from the consequences of their actions. By allowing consequences to do the talking, we avoid disturbing our relationships by nagging or reminding too much.

  9. Ask, “What is my child trying to communicate?”

  10. Children who misbehave are frequently trying to communicate a need that is not being met. Perhaps your child is feeling tired, bored, lonely or unloved. Children whose needs are being met are less likely to misbehave.

  11. Withdraw From Conflict

  12. If your child is testing you through a temper tantrum, or being angry or speaking disrespectfully to you, it is best if you leave the room and tell the child that you will be in the next room if he wants to “try again”. Say this in a calm, detached tone of voice.

    By giving them appropriate ways to feel powerful, you will diminish the number of power struggles in your family.

  13. Separate the Deed From the Doer

  14. Refrain from telling a child he is bad. That tears at his self-esteem. Help your child recognize that you love him, but it is his behavior you are unwilling to tolerate. In order for a child to develop healthy self-esteem, he must know he is loved unconditionally no matter what he does. Do not attempt to motivate your child by withdrawing your love from him. When in doubt, ask yourself, did my discipline build my child’s self-esteem?

  15. Be Kind and Firm at the Same Time

  16. Suppose you have told your 5-year old child that if she isn’t dressed by the time the timer goes off, you will pick her up and take her to the car. She has been told she can either get dressed in the car or at school. If she is not dressed by the time the timer goes off, make sure that you lovingly but firmly pick her up as soon as the timer goes off without any more nagging. If in doubt, ask yourself, did I use fear or love to motivate my child?

  17. Parent with the End in Mind

  18. Most of us parent in ways to get the situation under control as soon as possible. We are looking for the expedient solution. This often results in children who feel overpowered or not disciplined. But if we learn to parent in a way that keeps in mind how we want our child to be as an adult, we will be more thoughtful in the way we parent. For example, spanking teaches children to use acts of aggression to get what they want.

  19. Be Consistent, Follow Through

  20. If you have an agreement with your child to not buy candy at the grocery store, do not give in to her pleas, tears, demands, or pouting. Your child will learn to respect you more if you mean what you say and are consistent.

Kathryn Kvols, a national speaker, is the author of the book, “Redirecting Children’s Behavior” and the president of the International Network for Children and Families. She can be reached at (877) 375-6498.

The Fuss About Montessori

The Fuss about Montessori:
Why is it so darn great, anyway?
By, Julie Vaillancourt

What’s the deal with Montessori education? Why does it always come up in conversation when people’s kids start pushing the preschool age? You’ll hear questions and comments like the following:

“What’s the difference between Montessori and Waldorf?”
“Is it really worth it to send my child to a Montessori preschool rather than a really good daycare program?”
“I don’t even know what Montessori is about, but I think it’s supposed to be really great.”


It’s true, a mystery surrounds this mad Montessori method… the Montessori mystique, if you will. Nearly every parent swears by it, most children thrive in it, and yet not one person can really explain its magic in a few simple sentences. This includes me. But I’ll give it my best go, without getting overly theoretical, which, mind you, is quite challenging for most people who have studied this complex and yet brilliantly simple discipline.

Parents praise quality Montessori education because they find that their children are generally happier. But why this happiness? Well, let’s think about a subject we know all too well: being a grown-up. Because – believe it or not – children and adults are actually the same species, so we’ve got a few things in common. In order to begin this process, I’d like you to complete a brief True or False questionnaire. Don’t worry, it’s mindlessly simple.

When you have just acquired a new skill through fulfilling work and effort, you want someone else to do it for you anyway. (T / F)

When you are learning something new, you want to become competent in the basics and move up step by step. (T / F)

When you walk into a messy, disorganized room, you feel less at ease than if it were orderly. (T / F)

When someone is teaching you a practical skill, you learn by observing first and then practicing it yourself. (T / F)

You learn best when someone tells you with words how to do something, then asks you to do it, but continues to tell you how to do it while you’re practicing it. (T / F)

When bored or restless, you tend to succumb to behaviors or actions that you normally wouldn’t had you been busy doing something meaningful. (T / F)

When really fascinated by something, you can spend hours on it without even noticing the time passing, and if something interrupts you or breaks your concentration, you may feel frustrated. ( T / F )

You are either always active and social or always independent and needing solitude. (T / F)

You gain more from specific and honest feedback as opposed to vague praises. (T / F)

Okay, that’s the 9-question quiz for you, and I’d like you to think about why I may have been asking those questions. I guarantee you, if you think long enough, you will be able to describe Montesssori education and why it’s so effective. Children and adults, it seems, thrive in strikingly similar conditions. But I’ll save you the effort and describe it myself in the paragraph below, and you will see how Montessori, in all its beautiful simplicity, is not so mysterious after all.

The first thing a Montessori child walks into is an orderly classroom: A place for everything and everything in its place. It is clean, peaceful, beautiful, child-sized, and bright. The activities on the shelves ascend in order from basic to complex, allowing the child to work incrementally, setting him/her up for success. Just like Starbucks, a Montessori classroom should feel predictable, consistent and safe.

The children learn to care for and maintain their surroundings, cultivating the notion that we’re all in this together. The guide is just that: a guide. He or she shows the child, individually or in small groups, the new lesson to be learned based on individualized lesson plans which address each child’s readiness and interest. The lesson is delivered slowly and deliberately, allowing the child’s spongy little mind to soak it all up.

Then the guide transfers the work to the child, observing to make sure the child can use the materials respectfully. He/she then walks away, monitoring from afar, allowing the child to experiment independently.

The child learns by doing, with few interruptions, controlling the pace. The child gains confidence through the subconscious discovery that he/she is capable of problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and concentration. (“I did it all by myself!”) The child can ask for help from a seasoned peer or from the assistant or guide. The feedback is constructive, kind, and supportive, encouraging the child’s independence.

When the child is feeling social he/she can talk to a classmate while working at a group of tables, have snack with a friend, or join a small group activity. When the child prefers solitude, he/she can read a book in the reading corner, go out to the garden to water plants, or sit at a solo table with a favorite activity. When given the freedom to do what they love and love what they do, the children are less likely to act up and disrupt others.

To sum it all up, Maria Montessori, neither mythical nor mystic, states, “Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.”

Now, who wouldn’t want to be in a classroom like that? Hopefully this unravels the mystery surrounding why Montessori education works. By integrating the otherwise dichotomous elements of freedom and structure, individuality and community, independence and guidance, choice and limits, a human being (whether adult or child) has the potential to thrive.

And when we thrive, we feel happy. And when someone is happily thriving, watch out world! You may have another Google,, or Wikipedia founder on your hands… or perhaps an Anne Frank, Gabriela Garcia Marquez, or a Jackie Kennedy Onassis (yes, all Montessori alumnae)!

Montessori Math Minute


How can you improve your child’s number skills?

Try these quick activities and find out:

Have your youngster roll two dice and count the dots. Introduce addition by asking her to choose a number to try for (say, 6). Let her toss the dice several times to find combinations that will make 6 (1 + 5, 2 + 4, 3 + 3).

Make a number line for your child by writing 1 through 10 across a strip of paper. Practice “more than” and “less than” by thinking of a number and giving hints. “My number is more than 4 but less than 8.” She can use the number line to solve the mystery – and then choose a number for you to guess.