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Talking Respectfully to Children

Talking Respectfully to Your Children

By Jane M. Jacobs, MA


If you have observed a Montessori class, you may have wondered: How does the teacher manage 20 or more children when I have trouble with just one or two? If only I had her skills and patience! Having taught for several years before I had children, I was astonished to discover that my Montessori classroom experience did not prepare me for parenthood. Though Maria Montessori believed in extensive training of the teacher, few parents receive
useful preparation. Fortunately, I found a book that helped me translate Montessori theory into more effective parenting: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. The following ideas from this valuable book might be helpful as part of your parenting tool kit. The bonus is that these tools will work for you in any setting—and with everyone, not just children.

Learn to look and listen

Montessori stresses the importance of carefully observing a child as he goes about his work. This is one of the ways we can show respect for the child, another major premise of the Montessori philosophy. We often jump to conclusions and step in without taking into account what our child might be doing, thinking, or feeling. Put down the phone, turn off the television, watch, and look into your child’s eyes when you speak.

  • Practice observing and staying quiet first.
  • Listen to yourself as well as your child—if your immediate inclination is dismay or anger, write down what you would like
    to say, but don’t say it.
  • Try not to fix anything or problem-solve—just be with your child.

Name the feelings

It’s easy to be anxious when your child is upset. As a result, we may minimize children’s feelings or attempt to protect them from disappointment. In the long run, it is more productive to help children identify and learn from their emotions. Just as Montessori materials help children learn concepts and nomenclature, thoughts and feelings can be defined for our children. Adapt the style or phrasing to suit your child’s age.

  • Listen to your child as he or she talks, offering feedback such as:
    “Oh…”; “Mmm…”; “I see.”
  • Recognize and name your child’s feelings: “You seem upset (or angry, or happy).…”
  • Resist asking and then answering questions that are rhetorical or accusatory: “What were you thinking?” “Who drank the milk?” “How many times have I told you…?”
  • Try to understand from your child’s perspective and describe, perhaps with fantasy: “Sounds like you wish you could eat cookies for every meal.”
  • Show respect for your child’s struggle: “I see that it’s hard for you to…”
  • Describe the dilemma your child is facing: “Even though you know…” “The problem is…”

Engage cooperation

Keeping the family on schedule—and making certain everyone is fed, clothed, bathed, etc.—is no easy task, especially as children often have timetables, needs, and desires different from adults (and often from each other). Montessori believed that children, when given tasks appropriate to their abilities, delight in their accomplishments. Organize your home so children needn’t rely on adults for everything, and give them the time and the direction they need so they can become independent and successful in contributing to the family. You may find you don’t have to resort to
demands or reprimands.

  • Acknowledge feelings first: “You’re cozy in your bed this morning.”
  • Offer a choice: “Do you want to wear the red shirt or the green shirt?”
  • Be playful: “If you were a magician, you would already be dressed!”
  • Rather than reminding, describe what you see: “This table needs to be set.”
  • Say it with information: Use a word or short description, rather than a nagging, repetitive demand: “Shoes, backpack…”
  • Write a note: “I’m hungry” on the dog’s collar or “Hang me
    up!” on the jacket.
  • Take action without insulting: “Let’s clean up, put the paints away, and go outside.”

Be patient as you learn these new skills; it takes time and practice—and will pay off. As Faber and Mazlish state: “We want to demonstrate the kind of respectful communication that we hope our children will use with us—now, during their adolescent years, and ultimately as our adult friends” (1982, p. 88).

JANE M. JACOBS, MA, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and an educational consultant at Montessori Services. She has taught children ages 2 to 7 in Montessori schools, Head Start, and at a preschool for children with developmental challenges. She is AMS-credentialed (Early Childhood). Contact her at



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Step Up for Students is now accepting applications for reading scholarships

Applications Available for Reading Scholarships


Step Up for Students is now accepting applications for Reading Scholarships

Who is eligible? Students in grades 3-5 that scored a Level 1 or Level 2 on the FSA ELA in third or fourth grade are eligible to apply for the reading scholarship.

Reading scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.  

*This post was published on 09/23/2019. Original post here.


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Back to School Packet Welcome to the 2021-2022 school year

Back to School Packet

Welcome to the 2021-2022 school year!

Ignite the Light:

Join us as we explore what it means to be a leading light that illuminates others around us.

School Hours and Visitation

  • Office hours are Monday – Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
  • Student school hours are Monday – Friday from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm.
  • All visitors must sign in at the front office window with a valid identification card. At this time, we will be limiting visitors on campus for the first quarter.


  • We utilize ParentSquare as our main source of communication. Make sure you set up your account and
    download the app to your cell phone.

Car Line

  • Tune in to CMCS Radio at 107.9 during morning and afternoon Car Line for updates.
  •  You MUST have a school-issued car sign to pick up your child in Car Line – hang car signs for all students being picked up from the rearview mirror.
  • Do NOT use your cell phone, iPad, or any technology device while in Car Line.
  •  Morning Car Line
    o 8:05 am until 8:30 am
    o If you arrive after Car Line has ended, you must walk your child to the front office window.
  •  NO students will be able to be checked out of the office between 2:45 pm and 3:15 pm.
  • Afternoon Car Line:
    o Lower Elementary (without UE & MS siblings): 3:00 – 3:15 p.m. (12:00-12:15 pm for Noon
    Dismissal Days
    o Upper Elementary & Middle School (including LE Siblings): 3:15 – 3:30 p.m. (12:15-12:30 pm for
    Noon Dismissal Days)

Snack/Lunch Time

  • Please contact the Front Office if you’d like information about our breakfast and lunch program. Even if your
    child participates in our hot lunch program, you will still need to pack a snack.
  • Please pack healthy snacks and lunches for your student.
  • Due to the normalization process, we will not be accepting lunch visitors for the first quarter.
  • Lunch items to bring DAILY:
    o Washed and labeled cloth/fabric placemat that will fit inside the lunchbox
    o Utensils & napkins
    o Water bottle (for use all day) – ONLY water can be put in water bottles. No juice, sports drinks, etc.
  • Microwave Guidelines (most classrooms):
    o Maximum of 30 second heat up
    o Not allowed: Easy Mac, popcorn, frozen dinners


  • If your child needs to take any medication while at school (over the counter or prescription), please contact
    Ms. Devon in the Front Office

Parent-Teacher Communication

  • Telephone messages/emails will be checked daily before and after school hours, not during teaching times.
  • Please make sure all teachers’ names/emails are included in all communication.
  • Teacher emails can be found on the CMCS website (under the Teams tab).


  • CMCS follows the guidelines of Pasco County Schools and Department of Health related to COVID-19 protocols.
  • CMCS also follows Pasco County School’s guidelines and closures related to severe weather and storms.