Top 3 Reasons Why Montessori Classrooms are Multi-Aged

One of our younger Primary students observing an older student writing her letters.

Most child care centers segregate their classrooms by age (two year olds are in the Two Year Olds room and three year olds are in the Three Year Olds room and so on). Montessori preschools are known for combining age groups. Our Pre-Primary classrooms are for children ages 18 months up to 3 years old and our Primary level is for three to five year olds. But why? What is the advantage? Why is allowing a three year old to stay in the same classroom for up to three years with the same teacher and the same children so beneficial?

Opportunities for Leadership

Younger students can observe older students working on materials or lessons that are new or harder than what they are used to or know. Older students have the chance to become mentors to their younger classmates, while learning and practicing important leadership skills. It’s peer learning at its best! Have you noticed that younger children gravitate to older children? When I was a child, I was constantly trying to get my older sisters’ attention, to do whatever they were doing. Hero worship is real, y’all. Our students are the same. Children learn a great deal simply by observing. Having older children in the classroom means that younger children are surrounded by over a dozen teachers instead of one or two. And the self-confidence our students develop by modeling and teaching is something that has to be earned over time, something they can achieve only in a multi-age classroom.


By combining multiple age groups into one classroom, the Montessori method creates a diverse environment—since differences in age, for young children, correspond with vast differences in every other ability. Consider it another way, it’s a growth mindset. Both younger and older students have the opportunity to develop a “growth mindset” by observing all three years of the learning process in one classroom. And it mirrors real life. There is no other area in life in which people are split into groups with others who are exactly their chronological age.  

Learning at an Individual Pace

With a one-size-fits-all formula that traditional child care centers use, there is no room for learning what you want, when you want for how long you need. But in a Montessori classroom, it’s not only encouraged, it’s built into our learning model. Children are encouraged to work with materials that interest them, so if they see an older child working on an extension of the Pink Tower, they can work with them or try it on their own, then teach it to another child. This wouldn’t be possible in a daycare setting. 

By minimizing transitions every 12 months, children are able to build stronger relationships and capitalize on the learning environment it creates, both as an initial mentor and eventually a teacher and leader. A Montessori classroom is building the best, most natural learning method possible for your child and enhancing what is organic in children, helping others as they help themselves. 


American Montessori Society,

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 Naps are SO Important

When my son, John, was a baby, he slept like a pro (once we got him to sleep through the night, that is). He would sleep for 12 hours and still take one to two naps. The more sleep he got, the less he seemed to get sick and the happier he was. But little did I know just HOW important sleep is to their brains, bodies and beyond. Read on to discover all the benefits of snoozing in the afternoons!

The Benefits of Napping

Your child gets smarter

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that young children demonstrated higher levels of learning and memory the day after being taught if they took a long nap right after the information was presented. Here’s the key: All rested soundly during the night, but only the ones who had also napped during the day remembered what they had learned twenty-four hours later. “This needs further study,” the lead researcher told The New York Times, “but maybe babies lose some information if they don’t nap after learning.”

Your child’s body grows during sleepy time

It’s not just their brains that are developing; it’s their bodies too. A lot of their growth is  happening while they’re in dreamland, so depriving them of that time impacts them physically as much as mentally.

Lack of sleep negatively affects your child’s immune system

“A lot of studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived,” Balachandran says from “And inflammatory cytokines go up. … This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu.”In simple terms, sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function.

Your child is missing out on emotional growth without a nap

A missed nap or two may not seem like a big deal to friends and caregivers who see the child for an hour and then leave. But talk to the parents later that evening or the next day—when they’re dealing with extra fussiness, whining, and tantrum-throwing—and it’s a different story. Research backs up the case for this fatigue-induced crankiness. As explained by sleep scientist Dr. Monique LeBourgeouis, “Sleepy children are not able to cope with day-to-day challenges in their worlds.” A University of Colorado study shows toddlers between 2 and 3 years old who miss only a single daily nap show more anxiety, less joy and interest and a poorer understanding of how to solve problems, said CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Monique LeBourgeois, who led the study. “Many young children today are not getting enough sleep, and for toddlers, daytime naps are one way of making sure their ‘sleep tanks’ are set to full each day,” she said. “This study shows insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings, and, over time, may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems.” A rested child is a well-behaved and happy child.

A Daytime Sleeper is (Usually) a Better Nighttime SleeperI’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t prioritize their children’s naps because ditching the daytime snooze sessions helps their babies and toddlers sleep better at night. But that’s not actually the case. According to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, skipping naps usually leads to a child that is overtired by bedtime. And while you’d think an overtired kid will fall asleep quickly and easily, the opposite is often true: They start acting stressed, irritable, and wired, making bedtime more of a battle. The only time napping seems to interfere with nighttime sleep is when it occurs in the late evening (no surprise there—it’s tough to nap at 5:30pm and still go to bed by 8pm!). But other than that, daytime naps actually facilitate better nighttime sleep.

So How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?

  • Birth to 6 months: Infants require about 14 to 18 total hours of sleep per day.
  • 6 to 12 months: Babies this age usually sleep about 14 hours total for the day.
  • Toddlers (1 to 3 years): Toddlers generally require 12 to 14 hours of sleep, including an afternoon nap of 1 to 3 hours.
  • Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): Preschoolers average about 11 to 12 hours at night, plus an afternoon nap. Most give up this nap by 5 years of age.
  • School-age (5 to 12 years): School-age kids need about 10 to 11 hours at night. Some 5-year-olds might still need a nap, and if a regular nap isn’t possible, they might need an earlier bedtime.

Sleep is POWERFUL. It’s like your child’s kryptonite, shielding them from potential illness while also giving future abilities like locking in learning and promoting emotional growth. So the next time your child complains about napping, tell them that Superman and Wonder Woman take naps. And even superheroes listen to their mother.


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 Summer Camp is GREAT for Kids!

Imagine if you could go somewhere with activities designed for you to enjoy, new friends to make, fun places to discover, and time spent outdoors. Sounds like a luxury surprise vacay like Pack Up + Go, doesn’t it? Not for your kiddo! All of this and more happens at Sunrise Montessori’s summer camps, which start on Monday, 6/3!  

The whole reason I wanted more land for my second Sunrise Montessori location was to be able to offer summer camps and to do them RIGHT. At Sunrise, our summer camps offer art activities every day, two field trips a week to AWESOME places like Pump It Up and iFly, weekly splash play with Gym Station (because time in a swimsuit when it’s hot and the sun is bright is important), time outside to play but not too much because it’s summer in Texas, y’all, trained and experienced professionals to care for your children, and one low price of $225/week. No other fees! Why do we offer such a fantastic camp? Because this is everything I wanted for my son, John, back in the day and no one offered such a camp for an affordable price. How many camps have you heard of who send a picture album of their child at the end of summer to every family for free? Only one.

At Sunrise Montessori’s summer camp, your child will…

Spend their day being physically active – As children spend so much time these days inside and mostly sitting down, camp provides a wonderful opportunity to move. Camp is action!

Experience success and become more confident – Camp helps children build self-confidence and self-esteem by removing the kind of academic, athletic and social competition that shapes their lives at school. With its non-competitive activities and diverse opportunities to succeed, camp life is a real boost for young people. There’s accomplishment every day. Camp teaches kids that they can.

Gain resiliency – The kind of encouragement and nurture kids receive at camp makes it a great environment to endure setbacks, try new (and thereby maybe a little frightening) things, and see that improvement comes when you give something another try. Camp helps conquer fears.

Unplug from technology – When kids take a break from TV, cell phones, and the Internet, they rediscover their creative powers and engage the real world— real people, real activities, and real emotions. They realize, there’s always plenty to do. Camp is real!

Develop life-long skills – Camps provide the right instruction, equipment and facilities for kids to enhance their sports abilities, their artistic talents, and their adventure skills. The sheer variety of activities offered at camp makes it easy for kids to discover and develop what they like to do. Camp expands every child’s abilities.

Grow more independent – Camp is the perfect place for kids to practice making decisions for themselves without parents and teachers guiding every move. Managing their daily choices in the safe, caring environment of camp, children welcome this as a freedom to blossom in new directions. Camp helps kids develop who they are.

Have free time for unstructured play – Free from the overly-structured, overly-scheduled routines of home and school, life at camp gives children much needed free time to just play. Camp is a slice of carefree living where kids can relax, laugh, and be silly all day long. At camp we play!

Learn social skills – Coming to camp means joining a close-knit community where everyone must agree to cooperate and respect each other.

Reconnect with nature – Camp is a wonderful antidote to “nature deficit disorder,” to the narrow experience of modern indoor life. Outdoor experience enriches kid’s perception of the world and supports healthy child development. Camp gets kids back outside.

Make true friends – Camp is the place where kids make their very best friends. Free from the social expectations pressuring them at school, camp encourages kids to relax and make friends easily. All the fun at camp draws everyone together— singing, laughing, talking, playing, doing almost everything together. Everyday, camp creates friendships.

Maybe you have sensed a shameless plug? It’s possible. But where else can you get everything you want for your child, where you know they are having fun AND are being well cared for? I can’t speak for others, but I can speak for us. Sunrise Montessori offers a FANTASTIC and FUN summer camp that you can get behind! And your child’s tired, happy face when you pick up will be all you need to realize you chose the right place. =)


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 a Montessori Education Builds Innovators

Children from our Sandpiper classroom, seeing something they have never seen someone do successfully before.

When searching for the right school for their child, most new parents don’t know the world of Montessori unless someone tells them about it. I didn’t learn the difference between daycare and Montessori until my sister, Allison, mother of four!, filled me in on her children’s Montessori Preschool in the Boulder, Colorado area. Wow, they learn to read BEFORE entering elementary school? And manners? And math? What else would they teach my son? Of course, my story ends a little differently. I decided when John was 2 years old to open Sunrise Montessori because I couldn’t find a Montessori school that had the academics AND a friendly atmosphere. What I learned over time is that the Montessori curriculum is so much MORE than just math and reading. It teaches children the art of Executive Function, which in a nutshell is learning how to learn on your own. Montessori also promotes innovation and creativity! The Montessori method is amazing. But don’t take my word for it. Read this Harvard Business Review Journal article, where Andrew McAfee explains beautifully why Montessori is the place where your child can reach their full potential!

Montessori Builds Innovators
by Andrew McAfee

There are strident disagreements these days over every aspect of American educational policy, except for one. Everyone thinks it would be great if we could better teach students how to innovate. So shouldn’t we be paying a great deal of attention to the educational method that produced, among others, Larry Page, Sergei Brin, Jeff Bezos, Jimmy Wales, Peter Drucker, Julia Child, David Blaine, and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs? They were all students in Montessori schools. According to a Wall Street Journal article by Peter Sims, there’s a “Montessori Mafia” among the creative elite. So maybe there’s something to the method Italian physician Maria Montessori came up with around the turn of the 20th century.

The cornerstones of the Montessori learning method, according to Wales’s brainchild Wikipedia, are:

  • mixed-age classrooms, with classrooms for children aged 2½-or-3 to 6 by far the most common,
  • student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options,
  • uninterrupted blocks of work time,
  • a Constructivist or “discovery” model, in which students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction, and
  • specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators. That list rings true to me.

I was a Montessori student in northwestern Indiana from a very early age through third grade, which was as high as the school went at that time. The teachers were an earnest group of the biggest hippies that could be found in small-town Hoosierland in the 1970s, and they gave us a lot of room to explore stuff that we found interesting. For me this included the beads Maria and her colleagues came up with to teach us about numbers. No matter how young you are, after you see five beads on a wire next to 25 arranged in a square and 125 in a cube, you have a grasp of 5^2 and 5^3 that doesn’t leave you. And after you hold the five-cube in one hand and the ten-cube in another, the power of taking something to the third power becomes very real.

The parents of Larry, Sergei, Jimmy, Jeff, and all the others gave their kids good genes and nurtured them in many other ways beyond sending them to Montessori (I know that’s true in my case). But research indicates that Montessori methods work even for disadvantaged kids who are randomly selected to attend. And as far as I can tell from my quick glance at the studies, Montessori kids don’t do worse than their more classically educated peers on standardized tests.

So why do we spend so much time on rote learning and teaching to the test? When I got too old for my Montessori school and went to public school in fourth grade, I felt like I’d been sent to the Gulag. I have to sit in this desk? All day? I’m really glad to learn that Montessori methods are entering public schools. And I look forward to more research on the benefits and drawbacks of this educational approach.

Until it convinces me otherwise, I’m going to continue to believe in Montessori and recommend it to parents. The main thing I learned there is that the world is a really interesting place, and one that should be explored. Can there be any better foundation for an innovator in training?


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!

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!