Starting an In-home Montessori School


Hello from Kathleen, the blogger who hasn’t blogged in a really long time! It has been a truly interesting last few months as I started work on my masters in Elementary Education degree and I opened a Montessori preschool in our 1,100 sq. ft. home. Whoa!


The new school is called The Children’s House. All of you Montessorians know why, but for everyone else, this was the name of the first Montessori school ever, but the name was Casa dei Bambini since the school was in Italy.


So, why did I leave my amazing job at one of the only Montessori schools in my smallish town? I had worked there for 5 1/2 years with 31 students each year and 2 assistants and while that was so incredibly wonderful,  I am ready to work in a smaller environment. I have 6 children and 1 assistant and while many things are familiar, I am blown away at the difference the small group makes. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, but I am loving my new role as head of school/lead teacher/accountant/janitor. Seriously, that sounds like a lot, but I’m actually enjoying learning how to figure my time/space percent for taxes and how to use quickbooks. This is a new frontier and there are challenges, but I’m game.

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How to make Drop-off Awesome


Dropping a child off at daycare or school can be a difficult thing to do. As a teacher, I have witnessed so many different drop-off scenarios; some successful and others just plain terrible. Here are 8 ways to make dropping your little one off a great success.

  1. Find out how drop-off works at the daycare/school ahead of time. At a Montessori school, parents are not invited into the classrooms because the classroom belongs to the children. Asking parents to say goodbye at the door establishes the space as belonging to the child.  In this case, parents will say goodbye at the classroom door or the school might have a car-line for drop-off.
  2. Discuss the way drop-off will work with your child ahead of time. Tell her exactly how it works and how exciting it is that she gets to attend her very own school.
  3. If your school does not have a car-line, have your child walk into the school on her own two feet. Walking in rather than being carried in empowers the child to feel independent in her school. Of course, you might need to carry a worried child into school for the first week or so.
  4. Create a good-bye routine with your child. Ask her what she would like to do when she says good bye to you. Is it three hugs and one kiss? A high-five and two fist-pumps? Whatever it is, make sure it is short and easy to remember and make sure your child knows that after is it over, you will be leaving and she will be staying at her amazing new school.
  5. Do not linger. This is by far the hardest part. Let your child know ahead of time that after your special good-bye routine she will walk into the classroom and you will leave. If your child balks, it is best to pick her up and place her in the classroom or into the arms of a teacher, say “I love you” and leave.  The longer you stay, the more your child will cry because she thinks she is actually going to get you to stay by crying. In my experience, most children have stopped crying and have started having fun in under five minutes of a tough arrival. The teachers are used to this and have lots of ideas for soothing your child.
  6. If the first few drop-offs are tough, email the teacher and ask her if she can join the routine in a more formal way.  Sometimes teachers are not sure when the parent is ready for help and the teacher does not want to just pick-up a crying child and take her away from her parent before the parent is ready. Tell the teacher that you have a routine and that you would like to put your child into the teacher’s arms right after the routine. Your child will begin to expect this and will feel comforted by the consistency of the routine. Within two weeks of a parent being super consistent at drop-off, children are usually walking in the door on their own.
  7. If the school provides a time-frame for drop-off and you are having tough drop-offs, do your best to arrive during that time-frame so that a teacher is ready and waiting to help your child transition. Once the drop-off time has passed, teachers are often involved with the children that have already arrived and begun the work of the day and will have less flexibility in holding and comforting a sad child.
  8. Stay positive about the school and show your child how happy you feel about the teachers and the environment. Children are so perceptive and can tell when we are feeling anxious and if their parents are not sure about this new place then why would they be.

Have any other good ideas for drop-off? Please share them so that we can all benefit!


Music for Parents and Child

Some “children’s” music can be pretty tough to listen to, so here is a list of my favorite albums to listen to with M. Criteria for making the list: Is super good, sets a positive tone for the house or car and has appropriate language and messages for the most part.



  1. Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs is so good. M and I love the violin and the whistling.


2. Illinoise from Sufjan Stevens is one of my personal favorite albums and seeing that M loves the banjo, he has no choice but to love it too. I never skip over the John Wayne Gacy song, but I could see that getting a little bizarre when M is old enough to process the lyrics.


3. Hard not to love this one. Jacaranda Tree from Josh Garrels was recorded here in Indiana (I guess I’m partial to music from the midwest) and the message is so right on! Thanks to my husband for the introduction to this gem.


4. Anything by Elizabeth Mitchell is so wonderful and hey it’s actually for children. You are my Little Bird is my favorite, but her album Little Seed; Songs for Children by Woody Guthrie is also so darn good.


5. Looking for music to make you feel all warm and cozy on the inside? Here it is. You don’t need to have seen the film to appreciate David Bowie covers in Portuguese. Excellent!!


6. Want to get the dance party started? It’s as simple as this. M loves to jump around and get funky with this upbeat Mediterranean and Balkan fusion.


7. Lastly, M loves the Music Together CD collection so much. These can get to be a little bit much if you over do it, but they are really high quality children’s songs. M got to be a part of the Music Together classes from age 6 months-1.5 years. The classes left a huge impact on him and we hope to join another class soon.

What music do you and your little one groove to? I would love to know!!


Montessori Kitchen

Montessori Kitchen

Thank you to this tiny blue house for introducing me to the free photo topper website I’m loving it!

Here are some photos of how we are trying to give M independence in the kitchen. He is 2 now and he is such a phenomenal helper!


M has his own small table and chair. He often eats with us at the dining room table, but he eats snacks here and does lots of pouring and chopping here. He has a basil plant that he likes to spray with a mister on the table as well.


I have filled out this shelf a bit more to include all of the things that M needs to help set his own place at the table, pour water, scrub and chop fruits and veggies, arrange flowers and clean up spills.  I took out two links of the regular sized stiffer and now it is the perfect size for M. Thank you Molly Pepper for this great idea!


After using a $2 apron from Lowes for several months, I finally bought M an apron from Montessori Services. It was a good investment of $17. He wears it when he helps with the dishes and with food preparation.


I cleared out the bottom shelf of the fridge door and placed hummus with a spreader and crackers in a container, milk, a pitcher of water and a cup of very watered-down juice. M can use the glasses from the kitchen shelf to pour water of milk. There is usually a spill at this stage in the game, but it’s ok since we have the towels and sponge already ready to go.  I try to keep only a very small amount of water and milk in the vessels because M is too young to understand when to stop pouring.


Here are some other prepared snack options for M to choose from the bottom shelf of the fridge.


And finally, where would we be without this item? It gets daily use and I am so happy we took the plunge on this purchase. Yes, my kitchen is yellow with turquoise cabinets. The truth comes out.

Our Sleep Story


Ah yes, a story that we all have: a sleep story.

This is our story of trying to go all-out-Montessori for M’s sleeping arrangements and realizing along the way that actually, the most Montessori thing to do is to follow the child. Here goes the story:

When M was first born, he slept all the time, like most babies. We, however, could not put him down to sleep. He slept on our chests and laps and for the first three weeks we were happy to hold M constantly. After three weeks, my husband headed back to work and I realized that I was tired, extremely tired. I needed M to lay down next to me rather than on me so that I could get comfortable, but every time I laid him down on his back, he would scream after about five minutes.

I finally realized that M had acid reflux and that it was very painful every time he laid on his back. We tried putting a wedge beneath his bassinet mattress and setting him in his swing for sleep, but these things were not working. I was really against putting him on medicine for this issue because I wanted to find a natural remedy. Soon enough I realized two things: M loved, LOVED to sleep on his tummy (dun dun dun) and he needed medicine to help him get through the acid reflux stage.


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Montessori for the Very Active Toddler

Montessori for The very active toddler

Isn’t every toddler a very active toddler? Yes, all toddlers are very active, and in the same breath, I find that my son is particularly active. It is rare that he will become absorbed in the use of a toy, even a really cool Montessori toy, for much longer than a few minutes. It could be that I’m a Montessori teacher and I have wacky expectations for my child to want to sit and use blocks for ten minutes all by himself, but in observing other toddlers, I can see a difference. I find that M is looking for something other than individualized Montessori works at the moment. He is looking for involvement in household chores, using WATER, outdoor exploration and lots and lots of movement.


So, if you find that your toddler, like mine, is just not very interested in sitting and doing blocks or arranging small cars and trains, have no fear. Paula Polk Lillard is here to save the day. Paula Polk Lillard is the author of the book Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home from Birth to Age Three.  I was recently re-reading her chapter on practical life and I felt very relieved by what she had written.IMG_2360

She quotes Montessori in reference to children who are newly able to walk, “At this age just toys, especially light toys, do not satisfy the child. He can do nothing with them.” Tell me more Paula. Parents can include children in “setting and clearing the table, unloading groceries, preparing food, baking, pouring water and juice, wiping the table, washing dishes, sorting and folding laundry, putting away clothes, dusting, sweeping and mopping, washing a mirror or window, polishing a shoe, picking up a room, emptying wastepaper baskets, watering plants and arranging flowers” (Paula Polk Lillard).

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Montessori Spotlight Interview at Baan Dek Montessori


If you have not heard about the Baan Dek Montessori school and blog, I recommend that you check it out. The blog is BEAUTIFUL and the school looks wonderful. I hope to make a visit one day to see this AMI accredited school it all of it’s glory.

I got to be a part of their Spotlight Interview series and it was so much fun to answer the questions as it got me thinking about my future goals and what I truly love about Montessori (which is actually everything). Check it out at the link above!

Workbench Projects in the Montessori Classroom


One of the things I love about the Montessori classroom is the opportunity the children have to use real tools to complete projects at the workbench. In our classroom we have a workbench with safety googles, a vice, saw, hammer, nails, hand drill, sanding block, googles, small broom and many other supplies for the children to use for projects. The most recent project they worked on was wooden boats. This project was best suited for the kindergarten children, but the younger ones were able to try the saw and the hand drill too.


The children will also be working on making small beds for little clothespin people. This one takes a few more steps. I’m excited to see how it goes.


Both of these projects came from this amazing book! If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it as it tells you all of the supplies and measurements needed for each project. Find it here:

Some adults might wonder if using tools in an early childhood environment is unsafe. I completely understand the concern. Each child is given a step-by-step lesson before she may attempt to use the tools. When the saw first comes into the room, a teacher will stay near by to make sure that the no one is misusing it. Because the children in a Montessori classroom are accustomed to using materials purposefully rather than playfully/wildly, they take the workbench extremely seriously.

Please let me know if you have any other resources for building with children!


The most Beautiful Books at 22 Months and Why We Limit Fantasy Books for our Toddler

1. Mama, is it Summer Yet?  By: Nikki McClure

2. Animalium  By: Katie Scott and Jenny Brook

3. Little Night Cat  By: Sonja Danowski

4. I am a Bunny  By: Ole Risom and Richard Scary

5. Whistle for Willie  By: Ezra Jack Keats

6. Plant a Little Seed  By: Bonnie Christiensen

7. Louie  By: Ezra Jack Keats

8. Home  By: Carson Ellis

These are the books that M and I are really loving right now. Most of them are not fantasy based as M is not old enough to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, but who can resist I am a Bunny. 

Since the book I am a Bunny features a talking bunny as the main character, I classify it as fantasy. I loved fairy tales and other fantasy books as a child and I am in no way passing judgement upon anyone who loves to read fantasy books to their children.  I am simply mentioning the fact that we have decided to keep fantasy to a minimum and focus mostly on literature that depicts true information about the world in which we live.

If I come across a fantasy book that is beautifully illustrated, I am very likely to go ahead and rent it from the library.

I was recently reading M the book Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale ( I love this book so muchand he asked me what the children living in the roots were (he pointed at one of the children and said, “what’s that?”).  I found myself feeling conflicted when I said, “This is a child who lives in the roots of the trees until it is time for spring.” I felt weird about it because M completely believed me.  I realized in that moment why Maria Montessori believed in providing young children with the truth about our world rather than providing them with fantasy.

Children between the ages of 0-6 are sponges for information and are constantly taking on new understandings about their surroundings. It feels a little funny to fill children’s minds with false information about their world. I want M to fill his mind with the truth about nature, human feelings and needs and how things like cars and trucks work. When he is older, around age 5, he will be ready to enjoy fantasy books because he will understand that they are not real.  So, for now, I look for non-fiction books or fiction books that, for the most part, represent reality.

What are your favorite books?