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


How to Get your Child to Sleep

My son, John, at 3 weeks

For all the obvious reasons, we want our children to sleep. They need it to be healthy, grow, and fight off illnesses. Parents need it to remember where we left our car keys. But it’s not always easy to make it happen. If your child is not falling or staying asleep consistently, then read on to discover how to catch those Zzzzz’s!

  • Create a routine so they know what’s coming and that it’s time to go to sleep: Children need at least 11 – 14 hours of sleep including naps a day. Disruptions in their routine will throw them off and make it harder to sleep. When my son was a preschooler, we had a strict schedule that began at 6PM…dinner, bath, potty, 3 stories with Mom or Dad (once he was old enough, he chose which books for us to read and who he wanted to read them), one song, one hug, and then we got up and left, leaving his door cracked open half way.  If he tried to stall, we still told him we loved him and left.
  • If your child is sick or starts to develop allergies, try these two tricks: Asthma, allergies, and other illnesses can cause coughing, which makes it hard to fall asleep. Try putting a humidifier in their room and lay them on their side while falling asleep. Both of these made a huge difference for our son.
  • Teddy bears, pacifiers, and white noise machines…good or bad?: Some people say to not allow pacifiers in bed (our son sucked his thumb) because they invariably fall out of their mouth during the night. My sister used to entertain me with stories of how she would put her son’s pacifier back in his mouth by crawling on the floor like a Navy Seal so he wouldn’t see her. She also left at least six pacifiers littered around him so that with little effort, he could find another. She eventually weaned him off of it. White noise machines at the minimum will filter other noises that may wake them up. A special blanket or teddy bear works, too.
  • Setting the stage: Make sure there are no lights on in your child’s room other than possibly a very low night light. Children look for light to figure out if it’s time to wake up. Also, make sure they won’t get overheated or cold. With the weather constantly changing in Texas, wearing the right thing to bed can make a big difference.
  • No screens: My son loved to watch videos on his phone before going to bed. Notice that “loved” is in past tense. After a few nights of that, we noticed he was moody and looked tired, so our new rule was that his phone had to be in our room while charging at night.

As we say at our school often, “Freedom within boundaries.” That is our learning environment philosophy at Sunrise Montessori and it works well for helping your child to sleep. By setting a routine and the right environment, your child can experience a good night’s sleep…and so can you. 😉

References used:

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!

Successful Potty Training!

Part II: What to Do

The Big Day Has Arrived!

  • What to do:  Talk to your child in advance (at least the day before but preferably for days before starting) about what’s going to happen Saturday morning. Explain that s/he is a big boy/girl now and is ready to potty on a potty chair or toilet and doesn’t need diapers/pull-ups anymore.

Then, the night before your child is going to begin potty training, ask for your child’s help. Have him/her help you take all of the diapers/pull-ups outside to the trash can and throw them out together, saying “Bye bye, diapers! Suzi is a big girl now and doesn’t need you anymore! Tomorrow Suzi is going to start going potty on the toilet/potty chair and her daddy and I are SO excited about Suzi being a BIG GIRL.” In reality, you can put these in a bag and pull them back out later when your child isn’t with you. It’s the symbol of what you’re doing. This may seem insignificant but it makes a BIG impression. After throwing the diapers/pull-ups away, go to the bathroom your child will use and show your child the bag of treats you have waiting for him/her everytime s/he goes potty! Explain that every time, no matter what time of day, when Suzi goes potty, she will get to pick out one treat from the bag. Make it seem like the most exciting thing! Express to your child how excited you are for him/her that s/he is a big boy/girl now and gets to begin pottying in the potty chair/toilet tomorrow morning! Mention all this and your excitement about it again as you tuck your child into bed. Praise him/her on how happy you are. You can’t reiterate this message too much. You are mentally preparing your child for the physical change to come.

The morning you begin to potty train, make sure you wake up your child before s/he wakes up. Take him/her to the bathroom and sit him/her down on the toilet or potty chair. This first time, since your child is still sleepy and not sure yet about what’s happening, feel free to push your child’s pajamas down yourself. Throw out the diaper s/he was wearing and sit him/her down. S/he may resist. Gently hold your child down on the potty chair if s/he tries to get up while the other parent or older child reads the potty training book. Continue even if your child becomes upset. Your child needs to sit down until 1) your child goes to the bathroom or 2) the book is done being read. This gives your child enough time to adjust to the new sensation of sitting down to potty and release his/her bladder. If your child pees on the potty chair before or by the time the story is done, go CRAZY in your excitement! (If you have a girl, you need to hand your child some toilet paper and have her wipe from front to back. Please model this the first few times. Feel free to hold your child’s hand that is holding the toilet paper and model the motion. The number one cause of urinary tract infections in girls is that they do not wipe correctly, so don’t assume she will know how to do it.) If your child poops, just like with a diaper, you need to wipe their bottom. Still keep those wipes on hand in the bathroom for those poops that need a wipe as well as toilet paper. (Tip: Don’t let your child wipe his/her bottom until s/he is older. Young children do not have the patience, understanding or dexterity to wipe well. Also, throw your wipes out in the trash can, not the toilet. If you flush your wipes down the toilet, in a couple months, you’ll be calling Roto Rooter because your sewer pipes will be clogged.)

Then let your child pick out the underwear s/he gets to wear that day and dress your child (and in rubber pants if you have them). After the first time your child sits on the potty, set a timer for 30 minutes and for the rest of the day, every 30 minutes, sit your child down on the potty. The reason? You are training them to understand that they need to relieve him/herself on the toilet/potty chair instead of simply releasing their bladder whenever they want to. That s/he must hold it until s/he reaches the chair. This is not a concept your child is used to (if your child is in pull-ups right now and still goes pee and/or poop, even occasionally, in his/her pull-up, s/he is not understanding potty training).

Give your child LOTS to drink that first day. You want them to pee as much as possible. Buy several different types of juice in advance if you think it will help.

Many children are uncomfortable pooping in a toilet/potty chair and will hold it for days or will only go in his/her underwear at first. This is normal and common. Eventually s/he will not do this. You may even need to create a new treat system just for pooping after your child has successfully peed for a week on the toilet/potty chair. Just be patient and continue to tell your child how proud of him/her you are for pottying in the toilet/potty chair and how you would be even more excited to see poop! On a side note, I had to buy Thomas Trains for my son after a week of him not pooping on the potty chair. But it worked! I put them all up high in the bathroom so he could see all the different trains. He pooped that day. I gave him a train every time he pooped until they were all gone (about 7 trains).

On the second day of potty training, you can lengthen the time between visits to the toilet by 45 minutes in the morning to even 60 minutes near the end of the day, but we don’t recommend waiting longer than that. Your child will take days and possibly a couple weeks to make the connection (I feel like I need to go to the bathroom…I need to walk to the bathroom and not pee until I get there…I need to push down my shorts…I need to push down my underwear…Then I sit…And finally I can tell my bladder to pee). It seems easy to us but for your child, there was no real thought process before – s/he simply went the second s/he felt the need to do so. Now there are actions that have to be fulfilled before peeing and this takes practice like any new skill.

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!

Successful Potty Training!

Part I: Preparation

Preparing! Before you begin, you will need…

  • To block out the entire weekend, meaning you are not going anywhere that requires you or your child to be away from home.
  • An upbeat attitude. Making a big deal about every single potty in the potty chair or toilet are HUGE.
  • Treats. You know your child best, so the “treat” is up to you. Many parents buy a regular sized bag of M&M’s and put it in a see-through Ziploc sandwich bag. Only reward him/her when peeing or pooping occurs. Trying is not enough. You have to be able to see evidence.
  • At least six pairs of LOOSE underwear as well as gym shorts, ideally a full size larger so that your child does not struggle with pulling them on or pushing them down.
  • A potty chair or potty seat. There are many out there, but we recommend the Baby Bjorn chair (you can order it on The potty chair has a guard at the front for boys so their urine doesn’t go everywhere and it’s easy for your child to empty the potty chair’s contents after each potty into the toilet. One of the things that children are scared of is falling into the toilet, so the guard at the back of the seat is important. Now, you don’t have to buy what we recommend. You can always use nothing or try something that fits on top of your toilet seat. Use whatever you think will work.
  • Juice! Give them as much as they want and offer it constantly.
  • A child’s book on potty training that you read to your child while they are on the toilet, like Potty  by Leslie Patricelli.
  • Feel free to put your child in a diaper at night (some children are successfully potty trained but take months or years before they can go an entire night without an accident), but we recommend not using diapers or anything other than underwear for potty training.
  • Rubber pants. Usually parents cannot find these in stores and you have to order them online. Some children don’t need these but we recommend them anyway because when your child pees, instead of feeling it go down their legs and into their shoes (which they don’t mind on average), your child will feel it pooling in their underwear and find the feeling extremely uncomfortable (not to mention they then will not pee all over your furniture). When you take off the rubber pants, do so in the tub.
  • Patience and Free Time. You’ll need to be on hand every 30 minutes to go into the bathroom with your child. For the next several weeks or months, your child will want you to go in the bathroom with him/her – every single time. Eventually, s/he will do it on his/her own, but it’s important that no matter what you’re doing – if your child needs to go to the bathroom, even if s/he just went, that you or a family member ALWAYS go with him/her anyway. One of the main reasons children resist potty training is that they are losing the attention they get from a parent changing their diaper. When they realize that they are still getting attention from their parent, and in fact are getting a more excited, happier parent than before with more quality one-on-one attention (Wow! Mom and Dad read me a book every time I pee! And I get a treat on top of it! This is so much better than just getting my diaper changed. This toilet thing is great!), then the transition will be that much quicker and easier. And feel free to point that out to them, too! Children understand much more than we give them credit for.

Come back next week for Part Two: What to do! and find out when the big morning arrives what your first steps should be for successful potty training with your child!

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!

Supporting Infant Development

By Lara Gembicki

Infant development is full of “firsts!” While there are a number of areas of development that your baby will be working on during the first year, often the development of gross motor skills is a topic many parents naturally have questions about. The following describes some of the ways that a baby’s development of motor skills are supported in our infant Montessori classroom and at home.

Babies Develop At Their Own Pace

Every baby is unique and every child develops at his or her own pace. Montessori infant caregivers observe each infant closely to recognize and respond to the particular child’s needs and new abilities. In order to support each baby with the hard work of gross motor skill acquisition, adults in the environment allow for ample time and space during the baby’s waking hours for free movement. Floor areas are clean and soft, with mats or blankets for the babies to lie on. There are varied floor surfaces and low climbing equipment for children who are creeping and climbing. Interesting objects are placed near infants as an enticement to practice reaching, scooting, rolling, or crawling. Very young babies may be placed on their backs to allow free movement of arms, legs, and head. Babies who have begun to lift their heads or roll over on their own enjoy seeing the world from the perspective of being on their tummies.

Moving, Learning, and Feeling Capable

It is clear when observing babies that their efforts to get into various positions on their own play a large role in their cognitive and emotional development. A baby that has recently learned to pull himself up by holding on to a table edge or to crawl around the room exudes joy and a sense of accomplishment. This is particularly so if the adults in his life share his joy along with him! A baby that has begun to crawl with her arms pulling her body along behind her learns that she can get to a desired toy without help. Early problem-solving begins at this time, as well as focused exploration of objects. It it is more important for babies to work on getting themselves into different positions rather than simply being put in a position that they are not yet ready for by the adult. Montessori caregivers try to remove as many obstacles as possible for freedom of movement. Large amounts of time and room for the child is favored over use of contraptions that restrict movement, such as swings, bouncy seats, high-chairs, or infant carriers.

Did you know that gross motor skills are directly tied to brain development? Watching your baby make connections to their world is an exciting time! Enjoy this special stage while it lasts. Before you know it, you’ll be baby proofing your home and observing how toddling and walking will transform your child to their next stage of development and problem solving!

~ Lara Gembicki is a Lead Pre-Primary Teacher and Curriculum Trainer at Sunrise Montessori of Round Rock East. She holds a Montessori credential for both Primary (3 to 6 years old) and Pre-Primary/Infant (less than 2.8 years old). Lara started at Sunrise in 2007.

Resources that contributed to this article:

What’s Going On in There?: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot, Ph.D., 1999

The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Three by Susan Mayclin Stephenson, 2013

Being With Babies: Understanding and Responding to the Infants in Your Care by Beverly Kovach and Senise Da Ros-Voseles, 2008

Unfolding of Infants’ Natural Gross Motor Development by Emmi Pikler, M.D., 2006

Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers: A Curriculum of Responsive Care and Education by Janet

Gonzalez-Mena and Dianne Widmeyer Eyer, 2009

Montessori From the Start: The Child at Home, From Birth to Age Three by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen, 2003

The Missing Manual

Who we are

At Sunrise Montessori, our vision statement is “Where your family belongs.” We want every family at our school to feel like they are part of a greater community of families and Sunrise team members. Being part of a family means that when one of us needs help, we offer it, willingly and with an open heart.

Why we’re starting a blog

Being in business for over 12 years, we have seen many things change, but one of the constants is children displaying the same type of developmentally appropriate, and sometimes inappropriate, behaviors —  and parents asking for guidance on how to encourage them, reduce them, or even if they should do anything at all. A question we often hear is, “Is this normal?” As my husband and I tell our teenage son when he gets frustrated with us, “John, they didn’t give us an instruction manual when you were born. We’re doing the best we can.”

Parenthood can feel overwhelming at times, but we’re in it together

Which is why we decided to start this blog! Both myself and other Sunrise Team Members will post about once a week on pressing topics that we hear from our Sunrise families, like specific stages of child development and how to support them, how to incorporate the independence we teach in our Montessori curriculum at home, funny anecdotes on parenthood, and general information from other professional resources we will cite. We hope you find The Missing Manual useful and if a particular blog post really resonates for you, share it with others! This blog is for our current families as well as a vehicle to help other families find us and discover that there is another option for child care. It can be done right, with loving care and a stimulating, advanced learning environment. You CAN have it all for your family at Sunrise Montessori Preschool.

3, 2, 1…

We hope over time that our blog gives you at least a chapter of the instruction manual on your child. 😉  And if you would like to hear about a particular topic, please let us know. Thank you for reading and your support. Let the blogging adventure begin!

~ Shannon

Shannon Black is the proud creator and owner of Sunrise Montessori Preschools. When she’s not embarrassing her teenage son or trying to read her husband’s mind, she is leading her team of fabulous Sunrise Team Members who want to make a difference in the lives of others. She also enjoys reading, all things sci fi,  playing board games with friends, and hanging with her two Australian Shepherds and calico cat.

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!