My Blog

Walking Back the Cat


Walking back the cat is one of my favorite tools for helping children understand each other's motivations, and for supporting the development of spoken boundaries. It's the process of analyzing a sequence of steps in order to find out what set a negative situation in motion. Here's how I walked back the cat recently with two seven-year-old children in my homeschool pod.


I had a material on the rug and was waiting for a child to arrive so I could start the morning's first lesson…

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A Full Life


Preface: This essay is about screen time limits, which are different for every family.  But it's about much more than that, so if you are triggered by my family's limits, please ask yourself why before commenting.


"Half of my friends have their own iPhones," my 11-year-old son argued angrily. (Technically, only one friend has a cell phone, but such is the mind of the pre-adolescent.) 

He continued: "My friend O can have as much screen time as he wants as long as he gets his school w…

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How to Use Montessori Albums


Montessori albums, which contain all the lessons you can present to your child, can seem overwhelming at first.  It might be tempting to use them linearly, going through every single lesson from start to finish like a traditional curriculum.  Alternately, some people pick and choose lessons at random, not grasping the underlying sequences between topics.

I want to help you understand how to use the albums more holistically, to find a balance between structure and improvisation.

To do this, let…

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When You Stop Being a Good Daughter


Have you ever felt pressured to suppress a child's big emotions because your parent, in-law, spouse, or school administrator (if you're a teacher) is uncomfortable with the little one's behavior?

If so, I'm going to share with you a mindset shift that will help you make respectful and empathetic choices even under pressure.  This story is about motherhood, but the lesson applies to anyone who works with children.

The story starts like this...

This past winter I went to Los Angeles with my sev…

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Laughing In Her Sleep


Ever since I can remember, my dreams have revolved around anger. I dream about standing up to the bullies in my life, loudly saying no, and asserting my needs.

Ever since I can remember, during waking hours I do the opposite. I’m the good girl, conditioned to fit in, play nice, and get along.

When I was two years old, a child psychologist told my mom that my crying spells were attempts at manipulation. Whenever I cried or got angry, she was to send me to my room. She eagerly followed his advic…

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Montessori Field Notes: Simplicity Summer


Q: How do I keep the summer simple, like it was when I was a child?  I'm afraid my kids will be bored out of their minds and will drive me crazy!

- Erica

Dear Erica,

Have you ever heard the lyrics to the song, “Tis a Gift to Be Simple?"

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,

'Tis the gift to come down where I ought to be;

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to be…

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Who Taught Wyatt How to Write?


Peter and Margaret had heard that children in Montessori schools were precocious learners. Their neighbor's five-year old daughter, Jenny began to read and write while she attended the local Montessori school. They didn’t know much about the method, but when the time came to enroll their three-year old son Wyatt in a pre-school, they decided to give Montessori a chance.

To their dismay, Wyatt didn’t seem to do anything academic during his first year of Montessori, but he sure was active! He was…

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Montessori Field Notes: The One-Work Challenge

Q: My child chooses the same work over and over, and doesn't want to do more challenging activities.  Please help!

- Anna

Dear Anna,

We want to give the world to the child and it’s only natural to feel concerned when they hyper-focus on one work in the beautiful sea of choices we offer.  We know time is precious and it can feel maddening to watch them let it slip away by “repeating,” especially as they get older.  

Here are three Montessori-aligned steps you can take:

1. Observe.

What …

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Who's the Second Plane child?

A transformation takes place around the age of six. 

"What happened to my sweet, lovable, and dependable little five-year-old," parents often ask me.

The transition from the first plane of development (the stage between birth and age six) to the second plane (the stage between ages six and 12) can be a challenging one if we don't take the time to understand who our children are and what they need from us and the world.

Over the summer, I put together a short video to help adults begin to unde…

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