Unity School Blog

Nurturing Young Minds: The Montessori Approach to Education

By Cristina Gazsò
Preschool Teacher at Unity School

For over a century, Montessori education has been a beacon of consistency and peace, guiding children through global conflicts and societal shifts. Rooted in the belief that each child learns at their own pace, Montessori schools have provided a nurturing environment where children explore, discover, and grow. Unlike traditional classrooms, Montessori education goes beyond academics, focusing on the integration of subjects and real-life issues, nurturing a global perspective from an early age.

A Child-Centered Approach: In a Montessori classroom, the emphasis is on empowering children to take charge of their learning journey. Rather than passively receiving information, children actively engage with materials, discovering knowledge for themselves. This approach fosters excitement for learning, as children choose their activities and progress at their own pace, developing independence and accountability along the way.

Fostering Independence: Central to Montessori education is the cultivation of independence. Children are encouraged to make choices and manage their time, building autonomy and self-reliance. The carefully crafted environment provides tools and materials for exploration, nurturing a sense of confidence in one’s abilities and fostering resilience for future challenges.

Building Self-Esteem: Montessori classrooms celebrate the uniqueness of each child, valuing their individual abilities and interests. Through personalized guidance and support, children develop a strong sense of self-esteem and worth. By offering opportunities for success and encouraging perseverance, Montessori education instills a positive self-image, laying the groundwork for lifelong confidence.

Encouraging Critical Thinking: Hands-on learning experiences in Montessori classrooms promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Children are encouraged to explore, experiment, and inquire, developing a deep understanding of the world around them. By nurturing curiosity and a love of learning, Montessori education equips children with the adaptability and resilience needed to thrive in an ever-changing world.

Montessori education offers a holistic approach to learning, prioritizing independence, self-esteem, and critical thinking. By empowering children to take ownership of their education, celebrating their uniqueness, and fostering a love of learning, Montessori schools prepare children to excel in school and beyond. Embracing the principles of Montessori education can create nurturing environments where every child can reach their full potential with confidence and optimism.

Nourishing Connections Beyond the Table: A Journey from Farm to Fork

By Navalee Hylton
Director Food Service at Unity School


Nowadays, when we  think of food and nutrition, we generally understand that our food choices extend far beyond our own dining tables. With National Nutrition Month® in full swing, let’s take a moment to embrace this year’s theme: “Beyond the Table.” This theme isn’t just about what’s on our plates; it’s a call to action to consider how our food choices impact not only our own health but also the health of our planet.

Delving into “Beyond the Table”: This year, let’s embark on a unique exploration of school food nutrition. It’s where the principles of farm-to-table practices meet the eager minds of our youth. “Beyond the Table” invites us to dive deeper into the intricate web of nutrition, from how our food is produced and distributed to the moments it lands on our plates. But it doesn’t stop there! It’s about reducing food waste, making sustainable choices, and nurturing a connection with our food that extends far beyond mealtime.

Cultivating Sustainability & Beyond: At the heart of this year’s theme lies sustainability. It’s about echoing the growing global concern for our planet and making conscious choices that nourish both our bodies and the environment. By embracing sustainable food practices, we’re not just eating; we’re paving the way for a brighter, greener future for generations to come.

What’s Cooking at Unity: 

Here at Unity, we’re on a mission to spark excitement and exploration with our students. From exposing them to new fruits and veggies to raising awareness about food allergies, we’re committed to fostering a culture of healthy eating. And guess what? We’ve even restarted the Unity Garden, thanks to our passionate Head of School, Genevieve Hoppe! With our Tower Garden, we’re gearing up to serve our kids organic veggies straight from the garden.

Tips for Your Kitchen: You can join in on the fun too. Try out new flavors with your family, explore food recovery options in your community, and practice mindful eating together. And hey, why not get everyone involved in the kitchen? Cooking together isn’t just about making meals; it’s about creating memories and building lifelong skills.

Let’s Get Cooking! As we celebrate National Nutrition Month® 2024, let’s embrace the farm-to-fork journey with open arms. Let’s honor the dedication of farmers, the wisdom of nutrition experts, and the joy of sharing meals with loved ones. So, grab your apron and get ready to savor the flavors of a healthier, more vibrant future—one plate at a time. Bon appétit!

Yours in good food and good health, Navalee Hylton MS, RDN, LDN

Additional Information and Resources: For more tips and resources, check out EatRight.org.

Embracing Opportunities:
Tips for Nurturing Your Child’s Second Language Journey

By Marleen Bernstein
Unity School Spanish Teacher

Learning a second language can be rewarding and at the same time challenging. Taking a second language is the opportunity to learn about the language,  the culture, the food, the music, the celebrations, and other aspects of the Spanish-speaking world.

Here are some tips to help your child  learn a second  language:

  1. Watch movies and listen to music in the target language. For older children,  check out social media in the target language. This helps one to develop an ear for the language and exposes you to different accents.
  2. Consistency is key. Set aside time each day to practice the language. Short, daily practice sessions are helpful for language acquisition.
  3. Language Learning Apps like Gus on The Go, Spanish School Bus, Fabulinga, FunSanish by StudyCat, Endless Spanish, and others geared for younger children.
  4. Spanish apps for teens include Duolingo, Babbel, Flash Academy, Memrise, and Monthly offer interactive and gamified language learning experiences. They can be a great add-on to your child’s studies.
  5. Create flashcards to help learn vocabulary. Play Memory with your cards.
  6. Read in the Language. Start with simple texts and gradually move on to more complex materials. Reading books, articles, or news in the language will improve comprehension and vocabulary.
  7. Watch and Listen: Watch movies, and TV shows, or listen to podcasts in the target language. 
  8. Be Patient and persistent: Learning a second language takes time and practice. 
  9. If you have the opportunity to visit a Spanish-speaking country, allow your child to speak in the native language. This can prove to be a positive fun experience.  Immersion in culture and using the language in real-life situations can accelerate learning.

Remember, everyone’s learning curve is unique.  So my advice is to have fun with it.

How to Grow a Reader

By Mandy Lamb
Unity School Librarian

Early Literacy Practices at Home

Just as seeds need quality soil, water, and sunlight to grow, your child needs a good foundation in these five literary components to grow into a successful reader:

Phonological Awareness


Print Awareness

Letter Knowledge

Background Knowledge


This blog will be focused on building up your child’s phonological or sound awareness.

Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize and work with the smaller sounds that make up words. This happens for your child when they realize that words are made up of separate sounds and that those sounds can be broken down. Like in the word cat. c/a/t Cat can be broken down into three-letter sounds. The more exposure they have to sounds, the more refined their sound awareness becomes. As their awareness progresses, they will then be able to blend the sounds they’ve learned to create new words like bat, hat, or sat.

Let’s talk about five different practices that you can use at home to help foster your child’s sound awareness.


How does it help?

Singing allows children to hear the individual syllables in words because there are notes for each syllable. Think about it. If you said, “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way” to your child, they may not be able to distinguish all the sounds. Now compare singing.

Singing and clapping with each syllable – “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way” This is literally music to your child’s ears because it slows down the words and allows your child to hear the smaller sounds within.

But I can’t sing…

Don’t worry if you don’t have the best natural singing voice because children do not care about that at all. The thing that matters most to a young child is the interaction with their caregiver. Because the music comes from you, they will be receptive, engaged, and entertained. You will help boost their understanding of language and create a stronger personal bond to boot. A win-win!

Incorporation Ideas

Incorporate singing into your everyday routine. Sing to your child as you help them get ready for school (baby put your pants on), on a car ride (the wheels on the bus), in the bathtub (this is the way we wash our hands), and during diaper changes (changing diapers). Singing fully composed, complicated songs is not necessary. Pick ones you remember from childhood or simply sing about what you are doing at that moment.

Singing the song Head, shoulders, knees, and toes while waiting at the doctor’s office is a great way to learn body parts that the doctor will examine during the appointment and to ease any nervous feelings.


How does it help?

Young children naturally want to talk just like their caregivers do and are always paying close attention to what they are saying. Now is the time to take advantage of their undivided attention and speak to them in a slow and meaningful way. The more words they are exposed to now, the easier it will be to read and understand them later.

But I don’t know what to say…

Teaching your child in this way may sometimes feel forced or unfamiliar to you, but don’t worry. You don’t have to explain the concepts to them or turn your house into a classroom for your child to be able to learn from you. You know what you are trying to achieve, but it will seem like play to them. Just keep the mood relaxed and fun, and learning will occur naturally.

Incorporation Ideas

When speaking to your child, speak slowly and clearly, remembering to enunciate each word so that they can pick up on all those smaller sounds within.

When you are on an outing, point out animals or objects and name them. If it makes a noise, make that noise after you name it so an association is made. For example, oh look, there is a blue bird in that tree. What sound does the bird make? It makes a chirp chirp or tweet tweet sound.

Incorporate nursery rhymes whenever possible during the day. For example, if you see a pumpkin in a field, recite Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater.

Point out words that rhyme or words that start with the same sound. When you go to the grocery store, ask your child to shout out all the things in the aisle that start with the letter S.

Include your child in rhyming fun. After they are familiar with a rhyme, leave out the last rhyming word and let them say it. This helps with the recognition and retention of sounds.


How does it help?

Reading helps with sound awareness in the same way that talking does, but it can be much more entertaining for everyone involved when great books are selected. Remember, reading the words slowly and clearly is key to understanding and making distinctions between different sounds. The more you read to your child, the more opportunities your child will have to process new, unfamiliar words, which means more opportunities to grow their future reading potential.

But I stink at reading aloud…

When you read aloud to your child, they not only hear the story but feel your love and care. These positive associations will benefit them for the rest of their lives, so try not to let your inexperience get in the way. Consistently reading with your child can be equated to tilling the soil that will one day hold their independent reading seed. Keep at it and watch how well your child blossoms into a reader! In addition, take cues from your child. If they are frustrated or disinterested, pull back and take a break. Don’t force them or they may end up resenting reading, making the whole process feel like a chore. If they are receptive, keep going as long as they are willing.

Incorporation Ideas

Start out with animal books, again, pointing out the sounds each animal makes.

There is nothing wrong with reading the same books over and over. Rereading simple nursery rhyme books will become a comfort and boost your child’s memory.

Rhyming books or books with alliteration naturally lend themselves to a shared reading experience. Have your child say and/or point to the rhyming words. Once they understand the difference between letter sounds, have them say and/or point to words that start with the same sound.

Ask questions before, during, and after reading. What do you think this book is about? What do you think will happen next? What happened at the beginning of the story that we just read?


How does it help?

Reading and Writing go hand in hand, and they all stem from a child’s first understanding of how sounds work. Very young children will not be able to write just yet, but they will draw and make marks on paper, and these activities should be encouraged and discussed. When a child draws a picture, they are expressing what they have learned about spoken language. It is important not to dismiss this area when thinking about your child’s sound awareness.

But why can’t my child get it…

It may seem that your child will never be able to color inside the lines, let alone write sentences! Do not despair. Learning to write is a slow process, much like waiting for a seed to grow into a fruit-bearing plant. Just as you know the seed will sprout with the right mixture of water, nutrients, and sunlight, so will your child blossom into a fully capable writer in time. Trust in the process while continuing to supply the nutrients and one day, pop, there will be fruit!

Incorporation Ideas

At first, just encouraging your child to scribble, draw, and make any type of marks they like on a page is enough.

When they are older, ask your child to draw specific things that they are familiar with and then discuss those things with them, remembering to incorporate sounds when applicable.

Write your child’s name on a piece of paper and demonstrate the sound of the first letter. Using their name is ideal to start with because they are already familiar with the sound of it.


How does it help?

Play is a child’s natural way of learning about the world they live in. Playing allows children to freely practice talking, listening, and observing. It introduces new terms into their vocabulary, increases communication, and facilitates the sharing of ideas and instructions.

But I am too tired to play with my child…

Although children find playing endlessly fascinating, that might not be the case for us as caregivers. It can become tiresome but try to remember all this playing will amount to much more than just entertainment in the totality of your child’s life. The early years are the most important for brain development, so taking the time to help nurture your child’s language learning abilities now will save them, and you, from future frustration.

Incorporation Ideas

Encourage and participate in role-playing with your child. One person can be a baker one a waiter or one person a shopper and the other a cashier. This type of play facilitates new types of communication for your child to participate in.

Use playing with building blocks or legos as an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary into their internal word bank. You could say something like, “This building is gigantic!” or “Oh no the blocks are tumbling down!” Use a play cellphone to practice using names and dates and the words hello and goodbye at appropriate times. Use pretend vehicle play to introduce the concept of opposites like up and down, left and right, and fast and slow.

There are myriad ways to incorporate songs, rhymes, and playing into your child’s daily life to help build phonological awareness, one of the five literary components necessary for becoming a future reader. If you would like to learn more about the other components, please see my list of recommended links below. Keep tending your child’s garden of knowledge!


Reading Rockets – Literacy at Home

Reading Bright Start – At-Home Activities

Early Literacy Learning – Parent Practice Guides

Ready to Read – Simple Activities That Promote Early Literacy




Conquering Elementary Math Homework

By Kathryn Rebholz
Director of Curriculum at Unity School

“That’s not how my teacher does it!” Sound familiar? Math homework can be a daunting task for students of all ages. With math being a core subject in elementary school, the extra reinforcement homework provides is an essential part of the learning process. However, it doesn’t have to be a source of stress and frustration. With the right strategies and a bit of organization, homework can become a seamless part of your evening routines.

Create a Positive Attitude Toward Math:

One of the most important things you can do is to foster a positive attitude toward math. Avoid saying things like, “I was never good at math,” or expressing frustration. Instead, encourage your child to see math as an exciting challenge.

Create a Homework Routine:

Establish a consistent homework routine that includes a dedicated time and place for homework. Setting the right atmosphere is crucial for productive learning. Designate a quiet, well-lit, and comfortable space for homework. Minimize distractions, such as TV or loud noises, to help your child focus better on their math assignments. Offer praise and constructive feedback as they complete their work.

Understand the Curriculum:

Familiarize yourself with the math curriculum your child is studying in school. This will help you understand the concepts and skills they are expected to learn at their grade level. Math in Focus has an online component with extra practice opportunities and online games to play. Be sure to contact your child’s math teacher to obtain the website login credentials. 

Use Real-Life Examples:

Show your child how math is used in everyday life. Use cooking, shopping, or building activities to teach them about measurements, fractions, and basic calculations. Real-life examples make math more relatable and practical.

Use Math Games and Apps:
Utilize educational websites, apps, and games that offer interactive math exercises tailored for elementary school students. These tools often incorporate colorful visuals, puzzles, and quizzes, making math more enjoyable and engaging. Websites like Khan Academy, Prodigy, or Math Playground offer a wide range of age-appropriate math activities. Apps like Math Bingo and Quick Math offer math fact fluency practice. Explore options that align with your child’s grade level and interests.

Celebrate Achievements:

Celebrate your child’s accomplishments in math, no matter how small they may seem. Offer words of encouragement and praise their efforts. Recognize their progress and improvements, fostering a sense of achievement and motivation to continue learning.

Helping elementary school students with their math homework can be a rewarding experience when approached with creativity, patience, and encouragement. By creating a supportive environment, incorporating real-life examples, and using interactive tools we can instill a love for math and make homework sessions beneficial for young learners. With the right guidance and positive reinforcement, children can develop confidence and competence in mathematics, setting the stage for their future academic success.

 Unlocking the Magic of Montessori: 

A Journey into Child-Centered Education

How It All Began

Dr. Maria Montessori pioneered the Montessori method during a time when neurodiverse students were often marginalized and excluded from mainstream education. This innovative approach traces back to 1907 when Montessori was given the opportunity to establish a childcare center called Casa dei Bambini which translates to “Children’s House” in Rome.

With a background as both a physician and scientist she was skilled in observation and applied her scientific knowledge to understand child development, particularly focusing on neurodiverse students who were traditionally believed incapable of learning.

Dr. Maria Montessori was not only a skilled scientist but was also a passionate advocate for children’s education and believed that every child had the potential to learn and thrive given the right environment and opportunities. This was a driving force behind her mission to create an educational environment where every learner could flourish.

What Is The Montessori Method?

The Montessori method places a strong emphasis on hands-on learning, fostering independence, and promoting self-discovery within a nurturing environment empowering children to thrive. Montessori education recognizes the innate curiosity and yearning for exploration that resides within every child.

Exploring The Montessori Method

The Montessori method is:

  1. Child-Centered: Montessori classrooms are designed to be child-centered. Children have the freedom to choose their own activities, work at their own pace, and explore subjects that interest them.
  2. Multi-Age Classrooms: Montessori classrooms have mixed aged students. The Montessori method believes students are able to learn from one another. Students can take on the role of a mentor or leader in the classroom. This also allows for collaboration among the different age groups. Additionally, students are able to stay in the same classroom for several years.
  3. Hands-On Materials: All materials are carefully designed to engage students and to draw them into each area. Since the goal is independence, materials are self-correcting and offer a sensorial experience. Students must concentrate and problem-solve independently. Materials also begin concrete and become more abstract.
  4. Teachers as Guides: Montessori teachers are often called guides instead of teachers. The guide’s role is to support the children in the classroom, to observe, guide, and offer individualized lessons based on a child’s interest and level of understanding.

There are many misconceptions about a Montessori classroom or the Montessori method. Misconceptions are common due to the lack of understanding about its principles and practices.

Montessori is Not: Dispelling Common Misconceptions

  1. Lack of Structure: When you hear Montessori, you think “children can do anything they want” It is actually quite the opposite, Montessori classrooms are highly structured, think of it as freedom within limits. Children are given choices within a well-organized and purposeful environment. It is truly remarkable to step into a Montessori classroom and witness 36 students absorbed in their lessons, whether working independently or collaboratively. All this unfolds with calm, slow movements and low voices.
  2. No Teacher-Led Instruction: Montessori focuses on child-led learning but teachers play an important role as a guide and facilitator. Teachers offer lessons, observe children, and provide support as needed. Many lessons are taught individually to a student.
  3. Boring: Students may remain in the same classroom for several years. Parents are often concerned their child will be bored. Yet the beauty of the Montessori classroom lies in its adaptability to the child’s pace. One year, a child may delve into the intricacies of numbers, mastering quantities and counting into the thousands. The following year, this knowledge transforms into the ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide four-digit numbers. The possibilities are boundless in a Montessori environment. As students outgrow lessons, they seamlessly replace them with new challenges tailored to captivate and meet each child’s academic needs.
  4. Permissive: There is a misconception that Montessori allows children to do whatever they want without boundaries. Montessori does encourage students to become self-disciplined and responsible through clear guidelines. A teacher can help guide a child when needed, offering them tools to become self-disciplined.

Maria Montessori began the Montessori method out of a deep passion for education and a commitment to understand child development through a scientific lens to create a more child centered, inclusive, and effective educational approach to empower children to reach their full potential. Her work continues to impact educational practices today. Understanding the misconceptions about the Montessori method can help educators and parents make informed decisions about the best educational approach for children.

By Breanne Cox
Unity School Preschool Lead Teacher

Navigating the Middle School Maze: 

What I Know for Sure About Supporting Your Tween’s Journey

I often tease that I live in the movie “Groundhog’s Day” because every day I wake up and go back to middle school. I don’t know many adults that would relish the idea of reliving a time in their lives when change was so drastic, when they tried to figure out where they fit in the world, childhood or young adulthood. It was an emotional time that was more complex than anyone acknowledged. Our world today has made this time in a child’s life even more complex. Middle school students today are asked to grow up quickly. They have academic pressures, emotional stresses, and peer pressures, many of which weren’t around 20 years ago. A middle schooler once told me, “When I want to be a child and play like a child, somebody tells me to grow up and act like an adult, and when I want to act like an adult, somebody tells me to act my age.” This is their reality

For parents, middle school is also a time of great change and growth in parenting, and it’s natural to feel a mixture of excitement and concern. We second guess every decision we make and wonder if we are helping or hurting our child. It is a critical balance of being there for comfort, to offer advice and to encourage open communication, but also to allow space for growth, promote independence and problem solving, and allow them to make mistakes. Having gone through middle school as a parent twice with my own sons, and countless times in my almost 30 years of middle school education, there are several things that I know for sure about middle schoolers:

  • They worry all the time about little things and big things.
  • Their bodies change rapidly and often cause mood swings.
  • They all need to talk, to argue, and to be heard but not indulged.
  • They need their privacy but crave belonging to a group.
  • They need to develop self-confidence, but they are vulnerable.
  • They need to question authority and discipline.
  • They doubt parent and school opinions while trying out their own.
  • They need more rest but are unwilling to go to bed.
  • They view things as fair or unfair as it relates to their situation.
  • They will manipulate for control of their lives at home and in school.
  • They will experience intellectual, emotional, and social changes.

So what can parents do to support this wonderful time of growth and development? First of all, just do the best you can. You will make mistakes, give bad advice, and struggle with decisions.  However, each conversation with your middle schooler can present new opportunities for growth for both of you, if you choose to see it that way. No one decision will change the trajectory of your child’s life. Trust in the lessons that you and your village have already taught. However, for a little extra guidance, I pulled a few encouraging tidbits of advice to help you along the way: 

  • Academic Demands: Do not measure your child in strictly academic terms. Often academic success is not as important as the other lessons your child needs to learn during this time, such as trying something different, dealing with varying teacher expectations, or cooperating with different types of people. 
  • Set Realistic Expectations: Understand that they might not excel in every subject or activity, and that’s perfectly fine. Encourage them to do their best, but remind them that it’s okay to make mistakes or ask for help.
  • Increase and Respect Independence: Middle school students are often seeking more independence. They may want more control over their schedule, choices in clothing, and social activities. Balancing independence with parental guidance is key. While guidance is important, respecting your child’s growing independence is equally vital. Give them opportunities to make choices and learn from their experiences, even if they make mistakes along the way.
  • Listen, Really Listen: Your child may be going through a whirlwind of emotions and experiences. Take the time to listen without judgment or rushing to offer solutions. Sometimes, they just need to be heard.
  • Offer Reassurance: Remind your child that it’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed. Assure them that you’re there to support and guide them through any challenges they may face.
  • Empower them to Problem-Solve: Encourage your child to come up with their own solutions to problems even if it’s not the way you would do it. This fosters independence and critical thinking skills.
  • Model Empathy and Kindness: Children learn by example. Show them how to be kind, understanding, and empathetic towards others, and they will carry these lessons with them. The way your middle schooler responds to a situation mirrors your response. They feel your energy.
  • Communication Challenges: Middle school students may not always be forthcoming about their experiences. They might be navigating complex social dynamics and might not always share everything with parents. It’s important to keep lines of communication open and non-judgmental. Their perspective of events is skewed to their perspective and may not necessarily be the full reality.
  • Communication Encouragement: Treasure your child’s ability to talk with and to communicate comfortably with other adults.
  • Respect for Others: Students need to show respect for others as they learn to control their feelings or opinions. They must learn not to hurt or humiliate another person. This one factor directly relates to future success for your child.
  • Problem Solving: Encourage your child to fight his/her own battles and to speak with teachers about concerns. Do not enable your child to be dependent upon your assistance.
  • Responsibility: Do not underestimate your child’s ability to be responsible. Give them chores, allow them to complete assignments on their own, and when mistakes are made, remind them to accept consequences for their actions.
  • Peer Influence: Friends become increasingly important during middle school years. Peer influence can be both positive and negative, so it’s important to encourage healthy friendships and open communication.
  • Safety: Monitor your child’s whereabouts and set clear limits (e.g. places, times, etc.)
  • Digital Safety: Monitor your child’s computer use for appropriateness. Middle school students are likely to have more access to technology, including smartphones and social media. Parents should have conversations about responsible online behavior, screen time limits, and cyberbullying. Don’t be afraid to check their digital footprint.
  • Create a Safe Space for Open Communication: Let your child know they can talk to you about anything, without fear of judgment. This trust is invaluable and will help you stay connected during this time of change.

Remember, you are their safe haven, their anchor. Your empathy and support will provide a foundation for them to grow and flourish during these transformative years. Trust in the love and guidance you provide, rely on your village for support and advice, and know that you are making a profound impact on their journey. Finally, remember this is only a short period of time in their wonderful lives, so try to enjoy it together. Once they get to high school, it is once again, a whole new world.

Barbara Ferguson

Director of Middle School


AUGUST 28th, 2023


At the beginning of a new school year, teachers prepare class schedules and classroom routines, establish rules to help students acclimate to new environments, and plan a character education curriculum. In a Montessori classroom, lesson presentations are taught, such as carrying a tray or a basket, walking around a rug, unrolling and rolling a rug, and washing hands. These types of lesson presentations underscore the importance of order in a space and are the starting point of an excellent foundation to build on throughout the school year. 

In our classrooms at Unity School, independence is an organic, ongoing process. From our Toddlers to Orientation and Preschool, all students learn to manipulate a toy, pour water, tie their shoes, and identify and express their emotions. Maria Montessori once said, “Independence is not a static condition; it is a continuous conquest, and in order to reach not only freedom, but also strength, and the perfecting of one’s powers, it is necessary to follow this path of unremitting toil.”

For many families, summer schedules are often looser than those during the school year; adhering to regular bedtimes, wake-up times, meal times, and morning routines can be challenging. Now, we are all getting back into our “school routines”. A few ways to help your child establish and stick to a routine include waking up early enough so that the day feels smooth and not rushed, deciding if your child will dress before or after breakfast and laying out their clothes the night before, and providing your child with a healthy breakfast. 

Once at school, parent/child separation can be difficult for some, yet there are many things we can all do to help set a child up for success. Try incorporating some of these ideas into your routine:

  • Get to school on time. It is challenging to come to school late when all the other children are already there and the morning work has begun. 
  • Allow your child to walk into the building independently. If  they are bringing things to school such as extra clothes, paperwork, a snack or lunch, etc., allow the child to carry some of that too. This creates a climate of ownership for your child. 
  • Do the “leaving at the door” part of the routine matter-of-factly. Create a parting ritual that will last all year! For instance, give your child one hug, kiss, and a positive comment such as “Have a great day!”  As you send your child through the door, many parents place an extra kiss in the child’s palm in case they need it later in the day. This idea comes from the story The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. 
  • Create a climate of trust. Do not allow your child to become distracted and then sneak off. Be honest and upfront about what will happen and your part in it. Leave the building immediately and refrain from hanging around to see how they are doing. When a child senses that you are uncertain, they learn that school is a place to fear rather than embrace.
  • Affirm their emotions. If your child cries, remind them that they are just getting used to school and it is alright to feel sad. Let them know that they will have fun with their teacher and new friends. 

Learning to separate, establishing routines, and “getting into the school groove”  is a process that may take time. Maintain your positive outlook, and your child’s attitude will reflect yours. Most importantly, don’t forget that a strong partnership between home and school is key. Always know that you can reach out to your child’s teacher to share your experiences or ask for help.

Nilda Torres, Preschool Director

BBA, AMS Infant & Toddler, MACTE Montessori Trainer & Preschool Director