Finding Middle Ground, and Some Resources to Help You Get There

Carolyn Burns, Head of School at Guidepost Montessori North Scottsdale, shares advice and resources on navigating parenting, educating and working during closures

Carolyn Burns

Head of School at Guidepost Montessori North Scottsdale

Even though I've worked with children for 13 years now, I had a tough time when the shelter-in-place kicked in weeks ago. I wasn't able to magically create a structure and routine for my son. I also didn't have a magical shipment of materials sent from above. In fact, we don't have many toys at home because he goes to school!

It's sad to see two options being widely presented for parents: either full-on structured homeschool mode, or just give up and watch TV all day. An attempt to do the first often leads to the second!

There is a third way which is to be gentle with yourself and make incremental steps. As a teacher, I've had the benefit of seeing rowdy classrooms improve over a semester as I made little improvements every day.

This incremental, gentle approach is an invitation to all of us who are taking on a new role as not just a parent but also an "educator" at home.

Some little things you can start to introduce...

  1. Have some anchors in your daily routine. It doesn't have to be complicated or color-coded. Ours are lunch, nap, and bedtime routine.
  2. Give them your full presence for just 10 minutes! It's really tough to be completely present all the time because there's simply so much to do. Try a short snippet instead.
  3. Widen your boundaries. I focus on intervening if the behavior is unsafe or damages something. So, when my son wanted to "fix" the chair with his lego "hammer" while the chair was upside down, that sounded good to me. When he wanted to climb on top of furniture, I calmly and firmly set the limit: "Be safe. I can't let you do that. I'm going to help you down."
  4. Set up your space for independence. Think about what your child interrupts you for and if you can set up the environment so they can do it themselves. "Mom, I need paper," and "Dad, I need water" are invitations to set these things up so they can get it themselves.

  5. Take a little time to plan ahead for meaningful, challenging work for your child. Instead of thinking about how to keep kids entertained or busy, pause and observe your child. What might give them some challenge - even if it is just one activity per day? It doesn't need to be academic work! My son was meaningfully engaged in putting together those colorful foam tiles and "building a road." Carrying the stack of tiles presented a gross motor challenge, putting them together presented a fine motor challenge, and he was thinking really carefully about where he wanted the road to go. He was concentrated and engaged. Remember to be gentle to yourself. This is a new role we are all growing into, and we shouldn't expect ourselves to "master" it overnight.

Fortunately, you are not in it alone. Guidepost Montessori has curated, free, and upgraded resources and a community at to support us and our young children in this journey.

Family Framework

Access to a suite of online resources
Family Framework offers the original content that you need to bring Montessori to every aspect of your day: Montessori activities, Montessori planning, and scheduling resources, and a private Montessori community forum.

Virtual circle times
Toddlers and preschool children can join live, virtual circle times run by a Montessori guide each morning and afternoon. Sing songs, share stories, and connect with the wider world.

If you are interested in joining the Family Framework community, we are offering a free initial consultation with one of our Montessori-trained Parent Concierges, who can help you create a plan and make the most of your Family Framework access.

Family Framework Plus+

Personalized, real-time daily support-for children and parents-in creating a Montessori early childhood environment at home that includes:

A Montessori Guide for your child
Get daily individualized and small-group activities with a trained Montessori guide, delivered virtually. Up to three presentations to inspire your child and provide touchpoints for their day, and a more intimate circle time with a small cohort of Montessori children.

A Montessori Parent Concierge for you
Ger real-time, personalized support in helping your child engage, grow, and develop confidence. Unlimited access to a Montessori-trained Parent Concierge who will help you apply the Family Framework to your home and support you with anything from temper tantrums to napping to creating a routine to planning activities for your child.

Weekly webinars and planning sessions
Regular virtual classes and virtual working groups led by Montessori experts, all aimed at helping you elevate your parenting and planning your week.

The online resources of our Family Framework
All the original, curated content that you need to bring Montessori to every aspect of your day: Montessori activities, Montessori planning and scheduling resources, and a private Montessori community forum.

Learn more and join our community at!

Meet the Author

Carolyn Burns

Carolyn Burns is the Head of School at Guidepost Montessori North Scottsdale.

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