May 2024 Family Connection Newsletter

This month’s Family Connection Newsletter discusses the three-period lesson in Montessori education, a fundamental daily tool to present new information to children. The three periods are naming, recognizing, and remembering. Édouard Séguin, a physician and educator who worked with neurodivergent children, developed the three-period lesson and inspired Maria Montessori. Montessori teachers at all levels use the three-period lesson.

The article also discusses the power of an apology, how to encourage children to empathize with others, and how to help them begin to understand the value and meaning of making amends.

Warm regards,

Karen Sankey
Director of Montessori Education

Positive Discipline in the Montessori Classroom and at Home

Our parent education events for the school year are coming to a close.

We have one more on the topic of Family Meetings, scheduled for Thursday, May 23, at 8:30 after drop-off.

We hope the impact of our shared learning and collaboration empowered you with effective communication and discipline strategies, nurturing healthy and more harmonious relationships within the family as we have seen Positive Discipline’s impact in our classrooms. 

Positive Discipline’s focus on mutual respect, encouragement, effective communication, and fostering independence makes it a great fit for both home and our Montessori school classrooms.

Some of the big takeaways from our Parent Education talks this year include:

Mistaken Goals of Children’s Behavior: 

We talked about why children do things that might seem wrong, like trying to get too much attention, too much power, or getting back at someone. We learned that it’s because they have feelings and needs that aren’t being met or they’re feeling upset about something, not because they’re being “naughty” on purpose. We learned how to figure out what’s really going on and how to respond kindly instead of punitively.

Reflective Listening: 

We learned how important it is to really listen and understand our children. We talked about “reflective listening,” where we repeat back what our children say to show them we hear them and care about their feelings. We also learned some tips for being better listeners, like making eye contact and not interrupting.

Non-verbal Cues: 

We learned how our body language, like how we stand or move our hands, can say a lot to our children. We also talked about how a child’s body language can tell us how they’re feeling, even if they don’t say anything. We learned how to pay attention to these signals and how to respond to them.

Karen and I are looking forward to seeing you in May and sharing what we learned about Family Meetings!

April 2024 Family Connection Newsletter

“The satisfaction which they find in their work has given them a grace and ease like that which comes from music.” ~Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

April’s edition of the American Montessori Society’s Family Connection Newsletter delves into human tendencies in relation to the Montessori method. You will learn about the eleven cardinal tendencies that Maria Montessori identified as driving humans to understand and make a difference in the world: orientation, order, exploration, communication, activity, manipulation, work, repetition, exactness, abstraction, and perfection. Knowledge of these human tendencies allows adults opportunities to prepare our children’s environments to be places that promote growth in learning and exploration.

The newsletter also provides helpful information about the differences between praise and acknowledgment in your home.

I hope this month’s newsletter is helpful to you.

Warm regards,

Karen Sankey
Director of Montessori Education

March Family Connection Newsletter

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” ~Maria Montessori

The topic of this month’s Family Connection Newsletter from the American Montessori Society is the reasoning mind of the elementary student.

According to Montessori education, the period from birth to age six is known as the absorbent mind, while ages six to twelve are all about the reasoning mind. This is the stage where children take in information through conscious work and memory, and make decisions based on logic and patterns that they have already established in the brain.

Some key attributes of this stage are conscious learning, enthusiasm for learning, the importance of social connection, and the child’s great interest in justice.

I hope you find this information helpful, and I wish you a wonderful March Break!

Best regards,

Karen Sankey
Director of Montessori Education

Positive Discipline – Family Meeting 

Choosing a favorite exercise from the Positive Discipline parenting library is not easy, but family meetings hold a special place at the top for me. These gatherings around the kitchen table offer children a valuable and enriched learning experience. Family meetings cover important skills like listening, expressing appreciation, respecting differences, problem-solving, focusing on solutions, and understanding the positives of mistakes. 

Reflecting on a personal anecdote, there was a time when my boys, in their early teen years, began convening family meetings before my husband and I to discuss things as a family.

In school, your child may already be actively involved in Class Meetings. Positive Discipline Class Meetings are similar to Family Meetings. Class Meetings and Family Meetings are powerful tools for fostering communication, problem-solving, and positive relationships within their respective settings. They create collaboration, learning, and growth opportunities, ultimately contributing to a more harmonious and supportive environment.

Despite the clear benefits, the question arises: why do many families find family meetings challenging? Part of the issue might be insufficient training, with parents expecting children to possess the necessary skills for effective family meetings right from the start. 

To learn more about facilitating effective family meetings, please join us at our next Parent Education event—date and time to be determined. 

Karen and I hope to see you there!

Gina Tryforos ~ Assistant Head of School | Student Support Coordinator

February Family Connection Newsletter

“Our work is not to teach, but to help the absorbent mind in its work of development. How marvelous it would be if by our help, if by an intelligent treatment of the child, if by understanding the needs of his physical life and by feeding his intellect, we could prolong the period of functioning of the absorbent mind!” -Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

This month’s Family Connection newsletter does a nice job of explaining the period of intense mental activity called the absorbent mind that children experience during the first six years of their lives. You will learn what the absorbent mind is and how best to support children during this period of development. The newsletter also contains some great tips for cooking with your young child.

I hope you find this Family Connection useful and informative.

Have a great weekend,
Karen Sankey

Positive Discipline – Mistaken Goals of Children’s Behavior 

As we’ve discussed, Positive Discipline is an approach to parenting and teaching that focuses on encouraging desirable behaviors and fostering a sense of responsibility, respect, and problem-solving in children. The concept of belonging and significance is the cornerstone of Positive Discipline.

Children who feel they belong are happier, more relaxed, and have fewer behavioral problems than others. They are also more motivated and more successful learners.

At our most recent parent education event, we talked about the Mistaken Goals of Children’s Behavior. 

The Mistaken Goals of Children’s Behavior is a concept within Positive Discipline that suggests children may display challenging behaviors to meet certain psychological or emotional needs. 

These mistaken goals are divided into four categories:

Undue Attention: Children may misbehave to gain attention, even if it’s negative attention because they feel neglected or unseen.

The mistaken Goal is – Undue Attention (to keep others busy or to get special service)

The belief behind the child’s behavior is:

I count (belong) only when I’m being noticed or getting special service. I’m only important when I’m keeping you busy with me.

Power: Some children may act out to gain a sense of power or control, often when they feel powerless or overwhelmed in other areas of their lives.

The Mistaken Goal is– Misguided Power (to be boss)

The belief behind the child’s behavior is:

I belong only when I’m boss, in control, or proving no one can boss me. You can’t make me.

Revenge: Children might display challenging behavior to get back at others, seeking revenge for perceived wrongs or injustices they have experienced.

The Mistaken Goal is –Revenge (to get even)

The belief behind the child’s behavior is:

I don’t think I belong, so I’ll hurt others as I feel hurt. I can’t be liked or loved.

Assumed Inadequacy: In this case, children may adopt a defeated attitude and engage in misbehavior because they feel incapable, insecure, or incompetent.

The Mistaken Goal is – Assumed Inadequacy (to give up and be left alone)

The belief behind the child’s behavior is:

I can’t belong because I’m not perfect, so I’ll convince others not to expect anything from me. I am helpless and unable; it’s no use trying because I won’t do it right.

Once the mistaken goals are identified, adults can begin to take action to redirect the student’s purposes and help start better behavior.

Strategies might include:

  • Offering positive attention and reinforcement for appropriate behavior.
  • Providing choices and autonomy to meet the need for power constructively.
  • Teaching problem-solving skills and alternatives to seeking revenge.
  • Helping the student build the skills and confidence to face and overcome challenges rather than avoiding them.

All children misbehave. Positive Discipline encourages parents and educators to identify the underlying needs or goals behind a child’s behavior and respond constructively to address those needs. 

Instead of resorting to punitive measures, Positive Discipline promotes effective communication, problem-solving, and cooperation to help children develop social and emotional skills. 

By understanding and addressing the mistaken goals, adults can create a positive and supportive environment that fosters healthy development in children.


Gina Tryforos

Assistant Head of School-Student Support Coordinator

January Family Connection Newsletter

“Anyone who wants to follow my method must understand that he should not honor me, but follow the child as his leader.”
-Maria Montessori

I began my teaching career working at a public school where the focus was on the teacher leading. The belief was that children were empty vessels that needed to be filled with knowledge. When I transitioned to teaching at a Montessori school, it was an adjustment because the approach was different. In a Montessori classroom, the teacher’s role is to let the child lead. We observe and guide each child based on their individual needs. We act as a bridge between the child and the classroom environment, which is carefully designed to support their development. In this month’s Family Connection newsletter, you can read more about this concept of following the child in a Montessori classroom. I hope you find it informative.