Roll Out Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer…

As this is the last installment of the Parent Corner for this year, we would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for your continued support, participation, and collaboration in your child’s educational journey at FWM.

Summer is a time for relaxation and enjoyment; however, maintaining structure and engaging in educational activities can significantly benefit your child’s development. Therefore, it is essential to emphasize the significance of establishing a summer routine and encouraging summer learning.

A consistent summer routine provides stability and helps children maintain a healthy balance between leisure and productive activities. A schedule incorporating regular sleep patterns, meal times, physical activity, and designated learning periods can contribute to their overall well-being. In addition, it allows them to maintain a sense of discipline and prepares them for the routines they will resume when the new school year begins.

Summer learning plays a vital role in preventing the “summer slide,” a phenomenon where students may experience a decline in academic skills during the extended break. By encouraging your child to participate in educational activities, such as reading, puzzles, and educational games, or even enrolling them in summer enrichment programs, you can help them retain the knowledge they acquired throughout the school year. 

Take advantage of the warmer weather and the longer days to engage in outdoor activities that promote learning. For example, visiting museums, exploring nature, embarking on educational field trips, or organizing family discussions about current events can foster critical thinking, curiosity, and a broader understanding of the world.

Your involvement and support motivate your child to embrace summer learning. Please encourage your child’s efforts, celebrate their achievements, and actively engage in their summer learning. 

Summer also offers valuable opportunities for relaxation, family bonding, and exploring other interests. It is essential to balance structured learning activities and unstructured playtime. Allowing your child to engage in activities they enjoy and allowing them to explore their interests will foster creativity and a sense of independence.

Looking ahead in the coming weeks to help you plan:

  • FWM teachers will send Summer Learning Resources appropriate for your child’s level (LE-MS).
  • A Suggested Summer Reading List will be made available to all families.
    • Please encourage your children to read daily over the summer. Summer vacation allows us to relax, but it is also a critical time to ensure students keep learning.
  • Later in the summer, you will receive new school year instructions and supplies lists for the upcoming school year.  

Thank you for your ongoing support, and we wish you and your family a wonderful and enriching summer.

Our FWM Community

Building a strong school community is essential for creating a positive and supportive learning environment. Students, teachers, staff, parents, and extended family, work together to create a safe and inclusive space for everyone to learn and grow to their utmost potential.

There are several ways in which a school community can be built: through communication, a sense of belonging, collaboration, support, creating a safe space for children to learn and grow, and finally, through celebration.

As a Montessori school, we recognize one of the most critical aspects of building a school community is involving parents and families in the education process. FWM encourages parents to play an active role in their child’s education, and by doing so, parents can reinforce the principles taught in the classroom.

Our FWM school community thrives because of the collaborative effort from all stakeholders. By establishing a clear vision and set of values, fostering a culture of collaboration and inclusivity, involving parents and families, nurturing positive relationships between students, and promoting self-discovery and self-expression, we have an environment where students thrive and ultimately grow to become engaged, motivated, and successful learners who are well-prepared, compassionate, confident, joyful citizens of the world.

We hope you join us as we celebrate the Fraser Woods community at our two upcoming events: Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day on Friday, April 28, and FWM’s HERE WE GROW Gala and Auction on Saturday, April 29.

Family Connection Newsletter

The topic of April’s Family Connection Newsletter is The Montessori Method and Independence: An Aid to Life. As stated in the article, Maria Montessori believed that the overarching goal of education was to educate for independence. She said, “If [the child] cannot acquire this independence, he does not exist as an individual – for the characteristic of an individual is one who can function by himself.” The article contains helpful information for early childhood, elementary, and secondary levels.

In addition to this month’s newsletter, I am also including March’s Family Connection on Freedom and Discipline. This article discusses what that looks like in the Montessori classroom and includes information on freedom of movement, choice, time, repetition, communication, and mistake-making. It also provides information on self-discipline and an intriguing discussion with upper elementary students on the question: “What does freedom with responsibility mean to you?”

I hope you enjoy these newsletters,

Karen Sankey
Director of Montessori Education

Positive Discipline and Parent Workshop

My last blog post on Positive Discipline posed the question: 

What is Positive Discipline? 

Here is a more practical answer: 

Positive Discipline is a program designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful, and resourceful members of their communities. Positive Discipline teaches critical social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for children and adults (including parents, teachers, childcare providers, youth workers, and others). 

One of my favorite quotes from Jane Nelson is:

“Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Children do better when they feel better.” Jane Nelsen

Positive Discipline is based on the understanding that discipline must be taught and that discipline teaches. 

Our faculty spent time in professional development this past Friday. Our work focused on Positive Discipline in the Montessori classroom.

The big “take-aways” for us were:

Positive Discipline teaches adults to employ kindness and firmness at the same time, and is neither punitive nor permissive.

The tools and concepts of Positive Discipline include:

  • Mutual respect. Adults model firmness by respecting themselves and the situation’s needs and kindness by respecting the child’s needs.
  • Asking vs. Telling – the power of motivational questions.
  • Effective communication and problem-solving skills.
  • Discipline that teaches (and is neither permissive nor punitive).
  • Focusing on solutions instead of punishment.
  • Encouragement (instead of praise). Encouragement notices effort and improvement, not just success, and builds long-term self-esteem and empowerment.

Our first Parent Evening to come together and talk about Positive Discipline is on Thursday, March 30th from 7:00-8:00 pm. We look forward to seeing you!

February Family Connection Newsletter

“Through concentration, important qualities of character develop. When the concentration passes, the child is inwardly satisfied, he becomes aware of his companions in whom he shows a lively and sympathetic interest.” -Maria Montessori

“Concentration is the Key” in this month’s Family Connection Newsletter. Concentration holds great importance in the Montessori philosophy. Montessorians believe that personality develops based on the ability to concentrate and that children’s social/emotional nature is established through control of their minds and bodies. Concentration allows children to explore and investigate their environment. How is concentration fostered in the Montessori classroom?

  • Didactic materials reinforce repetition, have clear steps, contain control of error, and are fascinating.
  • Practical life activities develop coordination and independence, encourage attention to detail, and develop concentration.
  • The classroom environment acts as a protector of the child’s concentration, allows deep engagement, allows long periods of uninterrupted work, and provides time for children to become completely engrossed in their work.
  • The teacher acts as a protector of the child’s focus and concentration and shows great respect for the child and their work.

This issue also addresses Montessori at home through lunch preparation, clean-up, and independence. In addition, you will learn about the importance of Care of the Environment at different developmental stages and the skills that are fostered by caring for the environment.

I hope you find this month’s Family Connection helpful and informative.


Karen Sankey
Director of Montessori Education

What is Positive Discipline?

Positive Discipline is a program developed by Dr. Jane Nelsen who wrote her first book Positive Discipline in 1981. Since then she has authored or co-authored others, from Positive Discipline for Preschoolers to Positive Discipline for Teenagers. 

From the start, she saw the like-mindedness of Positive Discipline with the Montessori approach. 

Chip DeLorenzo, a Montessorian, together with Jane Nelsen, co-authored Positive Discipline in the Montessori Classroom in 2021. This book frames Positive Discipline from a Montessori perspective. Specifically, the Montessori principles of respect and independence.

Research tells us that children are hardwired from the very beginning of infancy to connect with others, and children who feel a sense of connection to their community, family, and school are less likely to have issues with misbehavior. To be successful, contributing members of their community, children need to learn necessary social and life skills. 

Two weeks ago, Karen Sankey and I attended a two-day workshop —The Practitioner’s Class: Positive Discipline in the Montessori Classroom at Westside Montessori School and Teacher Education Program, in Manhattan.

We are very excited to share what we learned with our colleagues and with our parent community. 

You can look forward to an invitation to an evening event here at FWM where we will share how the Positive Discipline model helps us (parents and teachers) develop mutually respectful relationships with the children in our lives by employing kindness and firmness at the same time, without being punitive or permissive.

Looking forward to getting together!

Gina Tryforos

Assistant Head of School | Student Support Coordinator

January Family Connection Newsletter

“Since we have the means to guide the child, it is clear that the formation of man is in our hands. We have the possibility to form the citizen of the world and the study of the young child is fundamental to the peace and progress of humanity.” -Maria Montessori, Citizen of the World, p. 93

The focus of this month’s Family Connection newsletter is on Research in the Montessori Classroom. In Montessori, research starts at the early age of five years old and continues through eighth grade. Of course, research at the different levels varies, each year building upon the previous year’s experience.

At the kindergarten level, research focuses on animals and plants the children are learning about in class, with resources being our beautiful, teacher created, Montessori materials. Children at this level end the year with a big research project of an animal, working in MakerSpace and Art in addition to the classroom, to make a detailed diorama to show what they have learned about their chosen animal.

This research expands throughout the elementary years. Children at this level are still quite interested in researching animals and plants, but they begin to use books from our classroom library to find their information, in addition to our classroom materials. As they move along through their elementary years, students start to extend their research to topics in history and geography. Third through fifth grade students also learn to use online sources provided by our classroom guides when they aren’t able to find the needed information in books. The big project at this level is a two month long assignment which wraps up with Research Night in the spring. At this evening event, students present their research to parents and classmates. First and second year students present “research fair” style, describing their project to parents and guests as they circulate around the classroom. Starting in third grade, students stand up and give oral presentations to the classroom community, including parents and guests. Topics vary depending on the year and the curriculum, and the visual aids used during presentations become increasingly more complex as the children progress through their elementary years. Lower elementary students make posters and presentation boards and upper elementary students make slide presentations and three dimensional visuals.

Finally, at the middle school level, research continues with the topics becoming even more involved. In addition to presenting at their own Research Night in the winter, students at this level prepare Math Carnival and Science Fair research presentations, tying in skills from additional curriculum areas. Our middle school students wrap up their years at FWM with an Expert Project culminating in a lengthy research paper and presentation. They spend months researching a topic of their choice, finding and interviewing experts, and putting together a TED Talk-style presentation which they present on-stage to the community during our Expert Symposium in May. The result is a polished, professional presentation which the entire school community is invited and encouraged to attend.

Hoping you enjoy this month’s Family Connection!


Karen Sankey
Director of Montessori Education

“What did you do today?”

Parents have asked this question at the end of their child’s day for generations.

The answer is almost universally, “nothing.”

Why is this question such a tough one?

Here are some thoughts:

Everything children are doing in Montessori uniquely corresponds with their development. You don’t notice when your shoes fit perfectly, you notice when they pinch or hurt or give you blisters. 

Even when we’re working on something new in the classroom — unless it’s something big and dramatic you’ve been waiting your whole life for, like your very first picture story, or the bead chains or the checkerboard, or the quadratic equation — it is something typically aligned with what you need, in the here and now.

“What did you do today?” is a very big question for children and adults alike. 

If my husband asked me, “What did you do today?”  my response would be  something along the lines of, “…. Um (long silence while I try to remember this day, which seems like it happened about a week ago) ……I worked with children, sent some emails, had some teacher meetings…

What children do during the day doesn’t seem nearly as thrilling to them as it does to us. When parents and visitors observe children in the classrooms, the most common phrase we hear is: “I could watch all day.” What the children do and what they learn is so incredibly exciting for us to hear about and to them, it’s one more step in their development.

A great way to encourage children to talk about their day is to create a daily habit of talking about yours- the whole family. If it is just relaxing dinner table or car ride home conversations, there’s more of a chance stories will emerge.

An example would be telling a “Did You Know Story”: 

Did you know, this morning, I thought I packed my lunch box but I didn’t!  At lunch time,  I couldn’t find it anywhere! I had to eat the extra snacks I keep in my desk for my lunch. 

If you can’t remember a fun anecdote to share with your child, it’s not a big leap to imagine they’re having a tough time remembering parts of their day, too.

It’s natural to want to know how your most favorite person spent their day. It’s also natural to think that the way you spend your own day is pretty uneventful. Both those thoughts are true, whether you’re the parent or the child. 

As we have seen so many times, modeling is one of the best ways to teach. Like any new practice or habit, seeing results from your work is sometimes just enough to create a bit of momentum.

Spend time over the winter break establishing this new habit with your family and enjoy talking with your child!

Wishing you a happy holiday.

Gina Tryforos
Assistant Head of School & Student Support Coordinator