Tribe of Moms

My mom, Heidi and me (left), 1981.

Sometimes I wish we could rename Mother’s Day to Tribe of Moms Day. Or just make another day altogether to celebrate all of those women (and sometimes men) who mother us and our children throughout our lives. I have had dozens of mothers over the years. My first was of course my own mother, then my two older sisters, Heidi and Allison, who loved making me laugh (I think it was so I’d stop crying, but the jury is still out on that one). Then came my amazing Auntie Pat (my mom’s sister), the moms of my friends, my teachers, friends and on and on. Once my son, John, was born, I saw this more clearly because some of those same people plus new ones were stepping up to help me raise John to be the best kiddo he could be.

At Sunrise Montessori, it’s Teacher Appreciation Week and we are hearing almost daily from our enrolled moms how our Teachers are like another family, guiding and truly caring for their children. Those moments when Ms. Lara of the Hummingbirds classroom sits down with toddler parents to explain how the potty training process will work that coming weekend and how we will support them and their child with this transition…when Ms. Leti of our Ducklings classroom comforts new moms dropping off their infant for the first time to go back to work…when Ms. Brittany of the Caterpillars who creates fun grab presents for her parents every Monday to make the beginning of the week a happy experience…all of these women are a tribe, mothering our families.

Life can be hard at times. My mother passed away two months ago. This will be the first Mother’s Day where my sisters, Heidi and Allison and I, aren’t sending her flowers. I was the one who would send them and write the card, trying to find a new way to thank her for all of those moments when she made us feel loved, safe and important. All the lunches she made, all of the times we got sick but knew she would immediately come get us from school and take care of us, and making sure we went to college. So important and life changing, reminding us that life is kind and generous, too.

Then there are the moms who try to stay under the radar but fail miserably. I will call them Dan and Melanie Carlson, friends for over ten years. They both have helped us raise John, showcased in their thoughtful words and actions what really matters in life, and taken the time to even mother Rob and I here and there. And let’s not forget the other moms we call husbands and children and sometimes strangers. So many people mothering us, such a wonderful tribe who makes this journey lighter, deeper, memorable. Worthy.

To ALL you Moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day! You may not realize your impact, but everyone around you does.

My sister, Heidi, with my two-month-old son, John, and me, Mother’s Day 2004

Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!

Why Do YOU Appreciate Your Child’s Teacher?

Nayeli graduating from Sunrise West, with her Father, Pete, who dramatically ran up to get his Picture taken with his daughter during the ceremony, And Nayeli’s teacher, Ms. Karima

Teacher Appreciation Week begins this Monday, so I wanted to dedicate this week’s blog post to all the teachers out there who make such an impact on us all.

You know who I mean, right? Who is one of YOUR favorite teachers? Think back…Who made such a lasting impression that you can easily recall their name all these years later? For me, it was Mr. Greenwald, 5th grade, Serrano Elementary in Villa Park, California, 1980. He was AMAZING. Mr. Greenwald had a model T that he would drive students in if they earned a trip to get lunch at Carls Jr. with good behavior. In today’s world, this wouldn’t happen, but back then myself and two others, if we were lucky enough, had a blast spending this special time with him. Mr. Greenwald did all sorts of things to make our time in his class memorable and fun! He had this writing challenge where we had to write down each step of making a peanut butter and green mint jelly sandwich, with him at the front, asking us to read what we wrote for each step, stopping and starting over if we forgot a step. I vividly remember my classmates laughing and erasing their list and re-writing instructions furiously to get the chance to get him all the way to the part where he took a bite of the sandwich! He taught us that learning can be fun, an adventure, and worth our time to do our best. What a wonderful foundation as I grew older and entered junior high and high school!

What do you think your child would say if you asked him or her what they loved most about THEIR teacher? Here at Sunrise Montessori Preschool, we think our teachers are pretty special and we hope you do, too. So let’s do something DIFFERENT and FUN, go the extra mile just for them! Will you please ask your child what they like about their teachers and then post it on our Facebook page? Add a picture if you have one!

Let’s light our page UP, Sunrise Parents! Here’s the link:

Taking the time to do something special, fun and out of the ordinary for our teachers? I have a feeling that Mr. Greenwald would approve. =)

Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!

What IS Montessori?

My son, John, 2007, about six months after we opened.


Want a super quick and basic explanation of what Montessori is? Then read this fast cheat sheet and you’ll be “in the know!”

Montessori is a curriculum
That’s the easiest explanation. There is what we call in the biz “traditional education” you will find in many elementary schools and daycares, which involves having children sit as a group and learn whatever lesson the teacher decides, and then there is another way, a philosophy of learning we call Montessori. A Montessori education means the child will set their own pace and learn from materials that will teach them about life, their environment, culture and how to communicate (read/write) and problem solve (math), so that they develop into confident citizens of our world and reach their full potential. It’s

pretty rad! I’ve never seen a more hands-on learning environment that produces such amazing results.


So why do schools have the name “Montessori” in their title?
It’s to let everyone know that we are a preschool/academic using a Montessori way of learning and not a daycare.

Who created the Montessori curriculum?
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952). She was an Italian medical doctor, a teacher, a philosopher, and an anthropologist. Her progressive view of children was ahead of the times, and she is the one who started the first preschools for young children.

How is a Montessori classroom different than a daycare?
For one, Montessori schools offer academic care. Our students leave for Kindergarten reading chapter books and adding 4 digit numbers. Really! What daycare offers that? We believe that the classroom environment is the best teacher, and we prepare it with Montessori materials that teach different concepts. Rather than dictating what a child should learn and when, we design the classroom or home to fit the needs of the child, rich experiences balanced by beauty and order. This takes a great amount of effort, but we are rewarded when a child is inspired to learn. In a typical Montessori classroom, you would see objects in baskets, trays, or boxes arranged on a shelf attractively. Teachers guide students in child-centered learning of social skills and daily living skills, as well as traditional subjects such as math, reading and language. In focusing on individual student progress instead of that of the group, no one “falls behind,” but instead, is allowed to pace themselves with curriculum that changes as their individual need and interest level does, instilling in each student a sense of pride that comes from realizing his or her own accomplishments. In addition, because the Montessori approach appeals to a child’s natural curiosity and hunger to learn, children learn to love the process of learning, which will benefit them throughout their lives.

Part of our curriculum is raising a well mannered child
We model grace and courtesy (good manners), treating our children as we wish ourselves to be treated. We use calm voices when teaching and speak with respect in regard to the children’s feelings. We carry ourselves with poise and handle objects with care. We believe that the children are observing us even when we aren’t aware of it, and they will mimic our behaviors and attitudes.

Montessori is the Goldilocks of learning!
The Montessori method of self-directed learning allows children to advance at their own pace, in groups or alone, limited only by their own curiosity. And unlike traditional preschools, which typically divide children based on age alone, Montessori students interact with peers of different ages, allowing the younger ones to learn from their older classmates, and giving the older children the opportunity to develop leadership skills.

Montessori is the ultimate preschool environment! It’s hands-on, interesting and fun. Once a child masters a material, they move on to another. The teacher guides them to ensure they are learning language and mathematics, but in the end, the child decides what they are going to work with based on what interests them…which is the BEST way to learn.



Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!

How to Get Your Child to SLEEPzzz…

John and I catching a nap together while he holds his beloved stuffed monkey, Monkey, when he was almost 2 years old.

Ah, sleep. It can be an elusive mistress when you’re a parent, which seems strange because your child is sleeping overall more than you, so you should be getting regular opportunities, right? If you’re still reading, then I suspect your child is not as solid of a sleeper as you would like. So let’s break this topic down and get to the heart of why your child is having sleep issues and how to get them back on track. Sleeping is serious business!

There are three types of people in regards to sleep: those who don’t need more than 7 hours and can function normally, those who do need more than that to feel rested but don’t need it regularly, and then those who need 8 to 9 hours on a regular basis to feel human (that’s the group Rob and I fall into), so when John had momentary lapses in good sleeping judgement, we tackled it like a child being set loose to find hidden easter eggs!

There is a lot of information out there (see sources below) on how much sleep your child should be getting and why. This article is only going to touch on how to get your child to sleep and stay asleep at night.

Make bedtime a routine of rituals

Children need a set routine that starts at the same time, with the same events in the same order, that last a certain amount of time. In our house, beginning at 7PM, John’s routine began: Rob would walk upstairs with him, John would put his clothes in the hamper, then take a bath and brush his teeth, then get in his bed where I would read him three stories he would pick out. Three exactly. He knew that he would get three stories and there would not be a fourth. Then we would sing two songs with the lights out, I would lay next to him for a couple minutes, and I would leave. Sometimes he would fall asleep, sometimes not. He had some control over the events, like which bath toys he could play with, what pajamas he would wear and which stories I would read, but he knew our routine never varied. If he got out of bed, we had a consequence, like taking his Monkey for one minute. As you can imagine, this was upsetting to him. You have to think in advance of what you’re going to do if your child gets out of bed after the routine. And then have back up plans to your back up plans.

Do. Not. Give. In.

Make it clear to your child that sleeping is important and that there are boundaries that will not be crossed because their body needs it to be healthy and grow. You can offer a reward of some kind in the morning if they stay in bed and go to sleep, like which cereal they want Daddy to eat for breakfast or which shoes Mommy will wear to the park, but do not give in. All humans need boundaries to feel safe, your child most of all!, so keep firm on the rules. If you give in once, it will be ten times harder the next night.

Set up a successful environment

Your child’s bedroom should be free of distractions. We did not have toys stored in John’s room, for example. There was a night light, but it was very dim. During the summer, we made sure the ceiling fan was on so that he didn’t get overheated. We also didn’t make loud noises while he was going to sleep and left his door open just a few inches with no bright light on nearby.

Get the energy out during the day and eat right

If your child is not getting enough exercise or not eating enough at dinner, those will definitely play into their body having a hard time going to sleep, but don’t allow wrestling or exciting activities just before bedtime. Think about how hard that would be for you. It’s the same for children.

Is your child snoring?

When my sister was 10 years old, she had her tonsils taken out. My mom told me it was because she snored at night. If your child isn’t having an easy time sleeping, ask your pediatrician about it. Snoring on occasion is normal. Every night is not.

Make sure you aren’t doing anything exciting before AND after you put your child to bed

Rob and I waited until John was asleep before watching TV. If your child thinks you are doing something fun, they will want to join you. Be as boring as possible. Sometimes, Rob and I pretended to go to bed ourselves. Washing dishes after dinner was the most exciting thing we did before bedtime. Take the stimulation out of the evening.

Is your child getting up too early?

We had this problem. We bought John a digital clock and covered the minutes with duct tape. We told him that until the number 6 was on his clock, he was not allowed to get out of bed. (This was a tip my older sister, Heidi, used and it worked like a charm!)

Is your child going to bed early enough?

Children who go to bed later than they should can get overtired and fight it. Children need a LOT of sleep. Put them to bed early. And don’t alter your schedule on weekends. Keep the routine!

Pretend you are in the military

For a while, we felt like sleep drill sergeants. The routine was rigid and we followed the clock to know when the next phase of our bed routine was to commence. Remember, children feel safe when they know what to expect and are given firm boundaries.

John hated it when we finished stories and left him, sometimes getting up ten minutes after we put him to bed. Every time he upped the ante, we upped it, too. Rob and I knew that if we didn’t get enough sleep, we couldn’t be the best version of ourselves…parent, spouse, employee, friend, coworker…and we wanted that for John, too. John’s phases of fighting our routine never lasted long because we stuck to our guns. So sit down and think about how you want YOUR routine to go at night, when it starts, how long each part is, plan out EVERY detail, share it with those in your house and prepare for every contingency. Once your child realizes you mean business, sleep will come. Sweet dreams!


Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!

How to Incorporate Montessori at Home

John practicing his kitchen skills 2006

As a Montessori preschool owner, I am asked from time to time how someone can incorporate the Montessori philosophy at home. One of the main tenets of the Montessori curriculum is independence. Independence goes hand in hand with responsibility as well. Win win! Yet you can’t have an independent child if everything is set up out of their reach or adult sized. Read on to see what small things you can do to bring independence and pride into your child’s life.

Start with the Basics
When our babies are, well, babies, the second they start to move, we child proof EVERYthing, right? It’s likely that things are still set up that way even though you don’t need to worry about keeping items out of each. Look around your child’s room, bathroom, living areas and kitchen. What can you lower so they can reach it?

Bedroom: We moved our son’s clothes from the top to the bottom dresser drawer, so that he could choose and put on his own clothes (which is also a PERFECT moment to take a  memorable photo to embarrass them with as a teenager!).

Bathroom: Put a faucet extender on the faucets in your home. I made sure there was a step stool in front of his sink and toilet. I bought him a child sized toothbrush and toothpaste tube. Easy!

Living Room/Kitchen:  Can your child turn on the TV when they wake up on weekends? No? As a former sleep deprived parent, I encourage you to fix that problem. Then there is furniture they can get up on and move (bean bags are GREAT), snacks in the kitchen pantry they can get and eat on their own, like fresh fruit (obviously you have to be careful with this one…feel free to put a child proof door knob cover on your pantry door if you need to), water they can access independently, and a chair they can sit in that allows them to eat dinner with you at adult levels. I’ve seen microwaves only two feet off the ground to enable independence in some pre-planned kitchens. Put plastic plates, bowls, cups and child sized utensils in a bottom cabinet. Do what feels right that also doesn’t break the bank.

More Advanced
Okay, so your house is set up for ease of movement and independence. Now what? Here are some other fun ideas!

More Ideas Inside the Home: Part of Montessori is taking care of your environment, so think of ways your child can help your family do that. You can buy a small watering pitcher and some indoor plants and ask your child to water them once a week (I recommend doing this activity with an adult watching or your plants may float away). Buy a child sized broom and dustpan set so they can clean up inevitable messes. What else does your family do regularly? How can your child be involved with that? Does one of your older children play soccer? Your child could be responsible for grabbing their sibling’s soccer cleats as you leave for practice, which means creating a designated place for them on the ground. Think of age appropriate, simple things that allows them to help.

Your Backyard: Most play areas are WAY too high or big for a young child. If you take a look at our playgrounds at Sunrise Montessori, you’ll notice nothing is very high and there are lots of moveable things for creative play and exploration. You can do the same in your backyard! Set up a lego table or easel with chalk. Buy balls with a container they can put them back into when done using them. Set up a nature table to take care of plants. The sky’s the limit! Look online for other ideas. There are a TON of examples on Pinterest.

My husband, Rob, is known around Sunrise Montessori as Mr. Fix It. He comes from a family of men who know how to build and fix things. John wanted to be like his daddy, which is why we bought him a tool belt with plastic, child sized tools for him to use while Rob worked on a project for Christmas when he was almost 4 years old. Your children crave independence, responsibility and being a true help in their family. By designing a home that incorporates Montessori with some simple changes, you will accomplish all three.


Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!

Why Children Bite

What You Can Do After it Happens, and How to Prevent It

Five-year-old Pirate John…just look at those snappers!

One of the most DREADED behaviors my son, John, displayed while a toddler at Sunrise Montessori many moons ago was biting. Argh!?! How I hated hearing that he had bit another child! He did grow out of it, as all children do, but why did he do it and how did we prevent it from happening as parents? Read on for answers to those burning questions!

Biting is a natural developmental stage that many children go through. It is usually a temporary condition that is most likely to occur in children between 1 to 3 years old. It can happen without warning, is difficult to defend against, and provokes strong emotional responses in the biter, the bitee, and the caregivers involved.

For many toddlers, the biting stage is just a passing phase. Toddlers try it out as a way to get what they want from another toddler. They are in the process of learning what is socially acceptable and what is not. The biter discovers that biting is a sure-fire way to cause the other child to drop what they are holding so they can pick it up or defend against what they perceive as aggressive behavior. Thankfully, they also experience the disapproval of the adults nearby and are told repeatedly to “use your words.”  Eventually, the behavior is extinguished as they use language to express difficult feelings.

Did you know there are many types of biters?

The Experimental Biter: It is not uncommon for an infant or toddler to explore their world, including people, by biting. Infants and toddlers place many items in their mouths to learn more about them. Teach the child that some things can be bitten, like toys and food, and some things cannot be bitten, like people and animals. Another example of the Experimental Biter is the toddler who wants to learn about cause and effect. This child is wondering, ‘What will happen when I bite my friend or mommy?’ Provide this child with many other opportunities to learn about cause and effect, with toys and activities.

The Teething Biter: Infants and toddlers experience a lot of discomfort when they’re teething. A natural response is to apply pressure to their gums by biting on things. It is not unusual for a teething child to bear down on a person’s shoulder or breast to relieve some of their teething pain. Provide appropriate items for the child to teeth on, like frozen teething rings.

The Social Biter: Many times an infant or toddler bites when they are trying to interact with another child. These young children have not yet developed the social skills to indicate ‘Hi, I want to play with you.’ So sometimes they approach a friend with a bite to say hello. Watch young children very closely to assist them in positive interactions with their friends.

The Frustrated Biter (Most Common): Young children are often confronted with situations that are frustrating, like when a friend takes their toy or when Daddy is unable to respond to their needs as quickly as they would like. These toddlers lack the language and emotional skills to express and cope with their feelings in an acceptable way. They also lack the language skills to communicate their feelings. At these times, it is not unusual for a toddler to attempt to deal with the frustration by biting whoever is nearby, sometimes even herself. Notice when a child is struggling with frustration and be ready to intervene. It is also important to provide words for the child, to help him learn how to express his feelings, like “That’s mine!” or “No! Don’t push me!” And as you acknowledge their frustration, remind them that teeth are for eating, not for biting.

The Threatened Biter: When some young children feel a sense of danger they respond by biting as a self-defense. For some children biting is a way to try to gain a sense of control over their lives, especially when they are feeling overwhelmed by their environment or events in their lives. Provide the toddler with nurturing support, to help him understand that he and his possessions are safe.

The Attention-Seeking Biter: Children love attention, especially from adults. When parents give lots of attention for negative behavior, such as biting, children learn that biting is a good way to get attention. Provide lots of positive attention for young children each day. It is also important to minimize the negative attention to behaviors such as biting.

So what can you do to prevent biting and what should you do after it happens?

  • Talk for your child by offering words like, “I see that you wanted that toy!” followed by, “Teeth are for eating, not for biting.” Read them books on biting every day. We read these titles often at Sunrise: Teeth Are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick, Little Dinos Don’t Bite by Michael Dahl, and No Biting by Karen Katz.
  • Demonstrate patience and understanding for the frustration the child is experiencing.
  • Offer solutions like, “We have another red truck right over here. Let’s go get it.”
  • Comfort the child who was bitten. Immediately remove the child who bit from others and allow them to watch as you comfort the bitee. It is important that the child who was bitten is getting attention and NOT the biter in the first minute or two.
  • Cleanse the wound with mild soap and water if needed. Provide an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Provide comfort for the bitten child by saying something like, “That really hurt! You don’t like it when your friend bites your arm.”
  • Calmly approach the child who bit. Many times these children feel overwhelmed and afraid after they bite. Tell them, “Teeth are for eating, not for biting. Do you see how you hurt your friend?” Point out the other child’s emotional reaction to help them understand that it hurt the other child.
  • When the environment is calm again, remind BOTH children what they can do to assert themselves, like say “No!”, “Mine!” or “Back away!” The goal is to teach assertiveness and communication skills to both the child who bites and the child who gets bitten.

What if you’ve tried all this but it isn’t working and your child is still biting?

If biting becomes a habit for your child and what you’re doing and your child’s teacher is doing is not working, it is time to set up a meeting with your child’s teacher. Together, we can plan an approach for addressing the behavior that can be applied consistently at home and at school in order to help your child to replace biting with acceptable behaviors.

Once my son started to speak more confidently and gain social skills (and experience a lot of time outs), he was able to say “No!” when a child tried to take his toy instead of biting and his biting faded away. Encourage your child to “Use your words” and help them to say things like “No!” or “Mine!” to prevent biting. This phase, too, shall pass.


Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!

How Do We Attract and Retain Our Amazing Team Members?

Pictures from our Team Christmas Party,  December 2018

There has been an interesting trend during tours the past few months. A sign of changing times! Our prospective families consistently ask, “How do you treat your teachers?” It’s a good question. Logic dictates that if they are treated well, they will likely do a better job. The average child care center has an incredibly high turnover rate, something we don’t experience. We are also complimented often on our amazing team…how friendly and welcoming, how dedicated and well educated, how well we all seem to get along and how happy we all are. I can assure you, it is not an act and it’s not by accident.

So what are we doing exactly to attract these high quality people and keep them from leaving?

The Easy Answer — Pay and Benefits: We value our hard working ladies and we show it where it counts. In their paycheck. Our Assistants make what most Leads make at other child care centers and our Leads even more. We also offer three weeks of paid vacation (those holidays around Christmas and Independence Day are part of that), paid flu shots, insurance, paid personal hours, free childcare and other incentives, things that other schools do not offer.

The Fun Answer — We Spoil and Surprise Them: We give random and regular gift cards for going above and beyond our high expectations. They can earn bonuses. We have catered lunches during all team meetings and staff development days. We pay for their training (the State mandates 24 hours per year), carve out time for them to visit other classrooms or Montessori schools for self-improvement, and have team building events. We give them compliments when they do a great job! Our goal is to make working at Sunrise someplace our team wants to be.

But the REAL answer — Our Sunrise Montessori Culture: Our culture is something we have worked on for years to get it where it’s at today and it’s something we don’t take for granted. We know it takes consistent thought and effort to keep our ecosystem functioning on full thrusters. Notice that I’m using the word, “We.” An organically self-sustaining, positive workplace culture needs everyone to do their part to keep it alive or it won’t survive. We do shout outs every week by name, looking for the good in each other. We encourage team members to grow even if it means they outgrow us. When we’re short staffed, people volunteer to stay late instead of us asking. When someone’s parent passes away, they will find casseroles on their doorsteps for weeks. In short, we care about and support each other.

By complimenting our Sunrise Ladies on how wonderfully patient or upbeat they are, by pointing out those moments when they go the extra mile with a worried parent, by supporting them during hard times, they are able to give their best, happily!, every single day. Which is the type of person you want caring for and educating your child and exactly the type of environment our team members never want to leave.

How do we attract and retain our amazing team? By treating each other how we all want to be treated. Sometimes the most obvious answer is also the simplest.

Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!

Why We Shake Hands with our Students When they Leave for the Day

When I introduced my son a few months ago to a new friend,  he unthinkingly stuck out his hand to shake theirs. John didn’t think much of it. It’s normal in his world, the world of a former Montessori student. But my friend was a little surprised and impressed. All because of a teenager spontaneously offering his hand to politely say hello!

At Sunrise Montessori, all of our Primary classrooms (ages 3 – 5 years old) participate in a Grace and Courtesy staple called handshaking. When the parent has arrived to pick up their child, the child goes to their teacher to say goodbye and shake their hand. Why do we do this?

Handshaking is a formal greeting: We have many forms of saying hello and goodbye in America…waving from across the room, high fiving, hand bumping, hugging, saying the word, and then the well known  handshake Think about it, if you are introduced to a stranger, how do you typically say hello or goodbye? You will probably shake their hand, so our children need to learn it, too.

It teaches the child how to perform a proper handshake: This is a learned skill set! You walk up to the person, smile, put out your hand, grasp their hand when offered, look at their face, say goodbye, and pump their hand up and down a little with a firm (but not too firm) grip.

It lets the teacher know that a child is leaving her care: Occasionally a parent will open the door to a classroom, see their child, motion to the child that it’s time to go, and leave. We greatly appreciate parents who let us know they have arrived. There may be something we need to tell them. It also lets us know their child is leaving for the day. Children watch what we do to learn how to act. Saying goodbye at pick up is a skill they need to function in our society as their grow older. Let’s show them now.

It‘s as old as time: The handshake started over 1,000 years ago to let the other person know you weren’t holding a weapon and came in peace. It developed over time into a polite way to say hello.

It’s part of the Montessori Curriculum: We teach our students at Sunrise Montessori many forms of Grace and Courtesy or otherwise known as good manners. From how to sneeze politely (into your shoulder) to pushing in their chair when they leave a table, good manners like shaking hands never gets old and can carry them further in life.

I have heard many, many times over the years from elementary teachers that they KNOW when one of their students is from a high quality Montessori school. Montessori-educated children try to figure things out on their own first, they are typically ahead in academics, and they help others easily and often. They also regularly mention that when they met them for the first time, the child, unprompted!, puts her hand out to shake theirs. Shaking hands is so much more than a greeting. It’s the signal of maturity, showing respect for others, and showing respect for yourself. It says a lot about a child who can shake someone’s hand goodbye. But here at Sunrise, it’s just part of our normal day.

Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!

How to Prevent Temper Tantrums

Creating a title for this particular blog was difficult…should I call it How to Completely Avoid Temper Tantrums (not possible) or How to Handle Temper Tantrums (why would you want to handle them if you and your child don’t have to?) or maybe How to Breathe Calmly while your Child is Writhing and Screaming on the Floor at HEB (doesn’t really roll off the tongue). But preventing seemed like the correct word choice for one of the most uncomfortable, frustrating and inevitably public acts your child will display…the dreaded temper tantrum.

So let’s get down to it. If you are the experienced parent of a child who is at least three years old, then you will know 90% of what follows (but 10% can make or break your sanity, so hopefully you will read SOMEthing you haven’t tried that will work!). For new parents, let me share the tips that I have asked our Sunrise Teachers, Sunrise parents, my sisters, my friends, online articles from experts, and my own experience as a parent to help your child experience more control and less angst!

For the new parent, here are the basics:

  • Establish routines and give warnings when they are about to change: children want to know what’s coming next
  • Give them a choice: “Do you want an apple or a banana for lunch?” Children want control of their environment, just like we do.
  • Redirect or distract them: Their attention span is short, use it to your advantage. Point out something your child likes…is that a plane flying overhead? Introduce something different.
  • Put items they are not allowed to have out of reach or sight
  • Know your child’s limit: My sister knew not to even think about taking her son to the market near his nap time.

For the experienced parent, check these out to see if there’s anything new you can try:

  • Give them a timer you are in control of: Do you need to leave in 2 minutes but you know your child will go full blown over not getting more time to play? Give your child a warning, “John, we’re leaving soon, you have 10 more minutes to play.” Then after 2 minutes, start the process to leave. They can’t tell time yet, use that to your advantage.
  • Identify their feelings out loud: “I saw how your sister got to the swing first. Does that feel frustrating?”
  • Bring toys or a book: If you are about to go on a long plane ride or just a jaunt to the market, then bring a couple small things in your purse your child will be excited to play with when they start to get bored and frustrated.
  • Offer them help: Do you see them struggling with something? Don’t do it for them, just ask if they would like you to help. Give them some control.
  • Breathing time: At Sunrise, we call time outs Breathing Time to allow the child to sit and calm down, think about what happened and then talk about it when they are ready. It’s really hard to think rationally when your brain is flooded with emotion.
  • Give positive attention: If you know that a situation is coming up that will trigger your child, start commenting what they are doing WELL so that they keep doing it. Everyone loves compliments and children especially crave attention.
  • Find a phrase! A technique Ms. Lara of the Hummingbirds classroom learned years ago is to find a phrase that she can use regularly whenever she sees that the child is about to respond to a situation with a tantrum. Some example phrases are “Uh-oh!”, “That’s a bummer,” or “This is so sad.” The phrase will be one that communicates empathy with the child’s feelings.
  • Use an older sibling to help them calm down if a tantrum is starting to unleash: “Hey Jeff, Ryan is trying to put his seat belt on, can you help him please?” or “Leah, Connor is sad, can you get him a tissue?”

But this one is the most POWERFUL! Out of all those suggestions, the one we use at Sunrise that consistently prevents the most tantrums, as Ms. Shavonda of the Chickadee classroom reminded me recently, is to tell the child to “Use your words.” The top two MAIN reasons a child has a tantrum in the first place is that they are struggling to communicate what they are feeling or are losing control of their environment. Reminding them to voice their frustrations gives them an outlet and some control of their emotions.

What you don’t know about that picture up above is that John was at the beginning of a temper tantrum but my husband, Rob, was trying to take a picture before the train took off, so I quick pulled out a sucker we had just gotten, we got a picture with John!, and off we went. Do I recommend giving your child candy to ward off an oncoming attack of overwhelming emotions? Nope. But if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have had to.

Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!

How to Pick the Right Preschool

It can be as easy as 1-2-3!

Back in 2005, my son, John, was one and a half and starting to get bored. My older and wiser sister told me to look for a Montessori preschool, so I toured six child care centers, some Montessori, some not, while on one of my long teacher breaks (I was a math teacher at the time).  What I observed quickly made me realize that I could open a higher quality preschool myself (a story for another time!), but until then, the hands-on Montessori curriculum that instilled independence seemed like the best fit for my son.

Here is a guide of what I consider the most important things to look for that can help you find a high quality school for your family!

What kind of environment is right for your child? What curriculum are they using? What’s their overall reputation as a place of learning?

A Montessori school isn’t for everyone. For example, children who need specialized care such as severe ADD or Autism should be looking for child care centers that offer smaller class sizes and teachers with different educational backgrounds. Most child care centers are not academic, even if they say they are. If you suspect they are not, ask for parent references of those who have a child who has graduated.  Were they ahead of their peers in Kindergarten? At Sunrise and most other Montessori schools, we graduate children who are reading chapter books and adding four digit numbers, which is more than a year ahead of their peers. Checking the reviews of schools on Google and Yelp are also beneficial.

How long have the Teachers been at that school? What is the background of the Teachers?

How do you know if your child’s teacher is going to treat your child lovingly while learning their ABC’s? One way to find out is to meet the teacher or observe her working in the classroom. As you walk around the school, look at the faces of the teachers…are they happy? Friendly? Or a little miserable? Ask your tour guide how long the Lead Teacher has been employed with the school, how long she’s been a teacher in general, her educational background, and what the school offers in benefits. At Sunrise Montessori, we foster a positive, upbeat workplace culture as well as offer three weeks of paid vacation, medical insurance, paid training with catered lunches, bonuses and free child care, to name a few. This results in high quality teachers, low turnover and happier team members, which means a more stable, loving classroom experience for your child.

Communication is KEY. How is information shared with parents?

I consider this one of the most important and yet most overlooked…How does the school and your child’s teacher communicate with you? At Sunrise, we have Montessori Compass so parents can see what lessons their child has been given. We have Preschool2Me which texts pictures and messages directly to the parent from the classroom teachers. If a child is diagnosed with a contagious illness, Administration emails all of the parents in that classroom to let them know. We have Parent-Teacher conferences twice a year and send Weekly Updates to our families to let them know what has been going on. You should feel like you are receiving a steady flow of communication and comfortable enough to ask when you have questions. If you ask Administration for something, they should get back to you within a business day. Great communication makes for less worry and more trust.

Are they licensed? What is their record like with inspections from the State?

Whether you are looking for homecare, a daycare, or Montessori preschool, look them up online to see if they have a license and how their inspections have been. Flesh out your final impressions by finding out what they were cited for, how many citations, and how often they were visited in a year. The best centers are visited only about once a year (new schools by law have to be visited four times in the first year). To help you, here is the direct link to Texas’ Department of Family and Protective Services, the governmental authority who licenses and monitors child care centers and homes: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

What is the school’s maximum class size and teacher-child ratios? Does the school look and smell clean? Is the school warm and well-maintained?

The State of Texas has some crazy high numbers for what they consider maximum teacher-to-child ratios. For instance, for children ages 1 ½ to 3 years old, the State says child care centers can have up to 22 children in one classroom with two teachers. At our school, we cap that at 16 with two teachers. For 4 – 5 year olds, it rises to 36 children with two teachers, but we stop at 24. At the home care level, one caregiver can have up to 12 children between the ages of infant to 5 years old. Make sure you ask what the maximum number is. Another thing that was important to me as a parent and still is today is the welcoming factor…is it clean? When you walk in, is it warm? Does it smell like dirty diapers or is it pleasant? This is where your child is spending the bulk of their day…it shouldn’t make you uncomfortable. It should make you proud.

By putting all of this together, you’ll find the perfect fit for your family!

Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!


8 Questions to Ask When Looking at Preschools

Signs of a Good Preschool

What makes a preschool great: 4 things parents should look for

Choosing a Preschool or Childcare Center