Twin Parks Montessori - Largest Accredited Montessori Program in Manhattan

Kathy’s Insights

Insights on the Montessori method and Early Childhood Education from Dr. Kathy Roemer

Frank Leto Celebrates With Music

Posted on by

Let’s all to join Frank Leto in the crusade to keep music in schools. Twin Parks Montessori teachers and many students participated in three days of Frank Leto being a part of our schools. The mornings we spent observing Frank teach infants through 6-year-olds music lessons. The afternoons were spent in workshops with Frank. We are so fortunate that our schools provide us with excellent professional development.

Twin Parks Montessori School Infants Enjoy a Lesson with Frank Leto

Twin Parks Montessori School Infants Enjoy a Music Lesson with Frank Leto

Frank Leto is a musician who practices his craft of writing songs and music, playing and perfecting his music on a daily basis. Frank has been a Montessori certified teacher since 1975. Frank recently wrote a book, Method to Music, as a result of many years of classroom teaching and observations, and figuring out what works in teaching music curriculum.

Below is one of Frank’s favorite songs to sing with children. Watch this video with your child and sing along:


Music in various forms has been around as long as humans have been on our planet. Singing and music are an important part of every culture. Today we see it in theater, on TV, during worship, holidays, celebrations, ceremonies and when we are by ourselves and expressing joy and contentment.

Frank Leto and his ukulele

Frank Leto and his ukulele

From birth, many parents instinctively use music or their voice to calm children. Music is used with children to express love and joy, and to engage with one another. Toddlers and preschool children learn about music in group settings as a way of bringing everyone together to learn to cooperate, be creative, engage in gross and fine motor activities, and to learn vocabulary.

Music is a way of knowing. According to Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner (1983), music intelligence is equal in importance to logical – mathematical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, spatial intelligence, bodily – kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence. According to Thomas Armstrong (1994,5), “Intelligence is galvanized by participation in some kind of culturally valued activity and that the individual’s growth in such an activity follows a developmental pattern; each activity has its own time arising in early childhood.”

Making music is a basic life skill in our early childhood classrooms. Our teachers provide many music activities like playing different types of music in the classroom. They also use child-sized instruments for children to experiment with and play together. Rhythms are clapped out in an echo activity with the leader adding additional beats to challenge the students.


Here is a Frank Leto classic he sang with Twin Parks Montessori School Students:

10 Ways Music Benefits Children (via Susan W. Caron)

1. It will boost their brain power

Want to give your child a mental advantage? Music can do that. “More and more studies show a correlation between higher academic achievement with children who are exposed to music,” says children’s music specialist Meredith LeVande of “Music simply stimulates parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development.”

2. It will improve their memory

Where did that shoe go? That’s a question asked far too many times in far too many households with kids. Help your kids remember more (and learn more!) with music. “Further research has shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve a child’s learning ability and memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development,” says Maestro Eduardo Marturet, a conductor, composer and musical director for the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

3. It helps them socially

Picking up an instrument can also help your child break out of their social shell too, experts say. “Socially, children who become involved in a musical group or ensemble learn important life skills, such as how to relate to others, how to work as a team and appreciate the rewards that come from working together, and the development of leadership skills and discipline,” says Marturet, who also oversees the MISO Young Artist program in South Florida, which allows young musicians to hone their musical skills as part of a professional orchestra.

4. It’s a confidence builder

Are there any areas of life that aren’t enhanced by having good confidence? Probably not. And if you want your child to develop their confidence, learning to play a musical instrument can help.

“They find that they can develop a skill by themselves, that they can get better and better,” says Elizabeth Dotson-Westphalen, a music teacher and performer.

5. It teaches patience

We live in a world of instant gratification, but real life demands patience. When you are playing in a band or orchestra (and most musicians do), you have to be willing to wait your turn to play, otherwise the sound is a mess. That inadvertently teaches patience. “You need to work together in a group to make music,” says Dotson-Westphalen.

6. It can help them connect

Who doesn’t sometimes feel a little disconnected from their lives? Music can be a much-needed connection for kids (and adults too!). “It can satisfy the need to unwind from the worries of life, but unlike the other things people often use for this purpose, such as excessive eating, drinking, or TV or aimless web browsing, it makes people more alive and connected with one another,” says Michael Jolkovski, a psychologist who specializes in musicians.

7. It’s constant learning

In some pursuits, you can never truly learn everything there is to know. Music is like that. “It is inexhaustible — there is always more to learn,” says Jolkovski.

8. It’s a great form of expression

People pay a lot of lip-service to expressing themselves. But how can kids really do that? One great way is through the arts – like music. “It gives pleasure and expresses nuances of emotional life for which there are no words,” says Jolkovski.

9. It teaches discipline

There’s this old joke that begins “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer? “Practice, practice, practice.” To improve in music, you have to not only do well in classes but devote time to practicing outside of the lessons too. That requires discipline. “Exposing kids to musical instruments is the key. They are naturally curious and excited about them — and the discipline that parents AND kids learn by sticking with it is a lesson in itself,” says Mira Stulberg-Halpert of 3D Learner Inc., who works with children who have ADHD.

10. It fosters creativity

Above all, playing music — particularly as kids get to more advanced levels in it — is a creative pursuit. Creativity is good for the mind, body and soul.

Join Frank in singing, “Come on Everybody!”



Armstrong, T. The Foundations of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books, 1994.

Caron. S. March 23,2010. Available online

Gardner, H. Frames of Mind. New York: Basic Books, 1983.

Leave a comment

How Do You Answer Difficult Questions Your Child May Ask

Posted on by

Every year Dr. Anne Colantuoni and I present workshops for Twin Parks Montessori School’s  parents that address the need to prepare for answering questions children ask. Beginning around 2.5 years and ongoing, children ask questions like, “where do babies come from?”, “why do you pee sitting down?” or “what happens when someone dies?

Where do babies come from?

Where do babies come from?

Thinking about these questions and how you might answer them requires consideration of them before you are asked. These questions are not difficult for children to ask, they are difficult for parents to answer.

We always want to be a source of truth for our children. This simple statement, if followed, will serve you well for the remainder of your life’s work of raising your child to adulthood.

There are a few key items to remember:

• use the correct nomenclature for all body parts (penis and vagina are the big ones)

• consider the developmental and cognitive age of your child when considering the words you will use when answering

• don’t over talk the answer, keep it simple, if you are not clear your child will ask again

• know that you will answer the same question again and you will add more details as your child ages

• keep your cool, if you are sensitive to the issue, your child will sense that and may misinterpret your response

• if you make a mistake, you can revisit the conversation to admit you made a mistake and change or add to your answer

One question that children ask is “what happens when ____ dies?” Parenting partners need to be on the same page with the answer. The answer will depend on the religious and traditions of the family. Most important is not to equate death with being asleep. This is where the cycle of life lessons learned from having pets at home or observing a dead bug in the park come in handy. Teachers at Twin Parks Montessori talk about the cycle of life in our early childhood classrooms. We have classrooms pets like fish, hermit crabs, and frogs.

Pregnant-mother-with-children1-242x300The other big one is “where do babies come from?” When talking to children 4 years and under, you can answer that “when two people love each other they put their bodies together and a baby grows inside the mother’s womb.” This statement is very matter of fact and delivered without emotion. You are sharing biological information. Of course, be prepared for “How?” Depending on the age of the child you can add something like this, “The penis goes inside the vagina. Sperm from the penis meets an egg inside the mom and a baby grows.”

Of course adopted or otherwise conceived children will have their own story that parenting partners share as soon as the child is verbal. Some parents make a book about the adoption with early pictures of the child and emphasis is place on love and desire to have a child.

Always remember to talk about love and relationships. Parents must help children understand relationships and intimacy when they are young. This will help pre-teens understand that genital contact without love is hollow and not appropriate. I recommend a great book, The Talk: What Your Kids Need to Hear From You About Sex, written by Dr. Sharon Maxwell.


In addition, I recommend this article that appeared in the New York Times on Sunday, March 19, 2016. It is titled, “When Did Porn Become Sex Ed?” by Peggy Orenstein. Parents must be the source of truth for children. The questions will get more difficult as the children get older, however, it is aways better to learn from you rather than on the playground or by watching porn.

Leave a comment

Doors, Windows and Mirrors in Children’s Literature

Posted on by

There are many different genres of books written in children’s literature every year. Each year several of those books join the ranks of the best and win awards like the Newberry and Caldecott Medals. Most children enjoy all types of books with rhyming and predictable words, excellent art work and stories they can relate to. Children will sit for a long time listening to someone read to them and beg for “just one more” at bedtime.

When choosing books for children it is important to keep several things in mind. Is the book a window, a door, or a mirror into the world? A window-type book is one that engages children into imagining what the world looks like in places and circumstances that they have never experienced. For instance, children living in New York City can imagine what children living in Mumbai enjoy and how they play and how they live. There is no limit to what children can experience while reading window books.

“Books and doors are the same things. You open them, and you go through into another world.” Jeanette Winterson who wrote those words is an award-winning English writer who wrote the book, Oranges are not the Only Fruit” about a sensitive girl rebelling against conventional values. Books that open doors often invite children to challenge their imagination. Books that focus on fantasy, science fiction, ethic and moral issues awaken the thought processes that children use to question reality, figure things out, and determine their particular tastes in reading material.

Mirror-type books are those that reflect an image of the reader or the children being read to. It is extremely important for children to see characters they can identify with. Things like physical appearances and personal characteristics that are similar to themselves must be in the books you choose to share with children. Carlos Ruiz Zafòn author of The Shadow of the Wind said, “Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside of you.”

Today, there are books with stories about different types of families, inclusion, and diversity, behavioral and moral issues that other children are facing. Children should be exposed to stories that occur in homes, schools and places in urban, rural and suburban communities where families live, work and play.

I admire Marley Dias who loves getting lost in a book. She was determined to find children’s books that had black girls as the main characters. She set her goal at 1,000. Over time, she exceeded that goal by thousands. Take a look at her work at #1000blackgirlbooks.

Marley Dias and her collection of books.

Marley Dias and her collection of books.

Help keep books alive by choosing windows, doors, and mirrors for the children you read to. Your children will have a magnificent imagination, well-developed problem-solving skills and a healthy sense of themselves.

Leave a comment

Best Speaker Ever – Bryan Stevenson

Posted on by

Just Mercy BookAuthor and Social Justice lawyer, Bryan Stevenson brought the 4,000 Montessorians attending the 2016 American Montessori Society Conference in Chicago to TEARS! His remarkable speaking style and stories about incarcerated youth was dramatic and heartfelt. He is the BEST SPEAKER EVER!

Please read his book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

The best quote, “The opposite of poverty is not wealth, it is justice.”

Watch Bryan Stevenson’s TED talk.

Leave a comment

American Montessori Society: Annual Conference Keynote Speaker Highlights

Posted on by

There are over 3500 Montessori educators descending in Chicago, Illinois, this weekend to participate in the 2016 American Montessori Society’s Annual Conference, and Twin Parks Montessori Schools is joining in. The theme is “Montessori Principles, Values, & Perspectives.” The selection of keynote speakers is awesome!

“Thriving Together with Emotional Intelligence”

While the concept of emotional intelligence (EI) did not exist when Maria Montessori first developed her pedagogy, many of the core ideas and competencies of EI, such as self-awareness, self-confidence, communication, motivation, and innovation, were clearly integrated into Montessori’s principles and values. Emotional intelligence offers a unique lens to understand and explore Montessori’s “education for life.” In order to develop the social and emotional well-being of our children, we must also focus on the parents and educators who engage with them. In this keynote talk, Mitchel Adler will explore how building our own social and emotional competencies enhances our children’s development by offering them effective modeling of relational attunement. Dr. Adler will share knowledge and skills that will help educators and parents alike understand the best choices they have in identifying, understanding, and managing their own emotions and those of others.

Mitchel Adler

Keynote Speaker:  Mitchel Adler Friday, March 11 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Mitchel Adler, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified group psychotherapist, and the director of MindBody Intelligence (MBI) Consulting in Davis, CA. He has served on the faculty of the UC Davis School of Medicine and is co-author of the book Promoting Emotional Intelligence in Organizations as well as other scholarly book chapters and articles. As a national speaker and organizational consultant, Dr. Adler has presented talks at many conferences and worked with organizations including Genentech, the USDA Forest Service, the Public Health Institute, UC Davis, and the City of Sacramento. He provides training and development to organizations to enhance the performance, health, and well-being of their employees. He has been heard on NPR and seen in Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine. Dr. Adler also has a private psychotherapy practice in Davis, CA where he works with individuals and leads psychotherapy groups. Dr. Adler holds a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Rutgers University, where he was the recipient of the graduate scholar’s award and other honors.  He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where he graduated with Distinction and was a James B. Angell Scholar. Before becoming a psychologist, Dr. Adler taught 4th- and 5th-grade math and science in a private elementary school in Los Angeles. He also spent 4 years directing a youth program in Marin County, CA.

Online source:

Leave a comment

Beyond Time Out: From Chaos to Calm

Posted on by

Dr. Beth Grosshans spent an informative evening with nearly 100 parents from Twin Parks Montessori Schools recently. Parents heard about parenting trends and the growing Imbalance of Family Power (IFP).  Parents learned about prevalent parenting styles:  pleasers, pushovers, forcers and outliers. As Dr. Grosshans described scenarios of the different parenting styles I saw smiles and nudging between the parents as they recognized themselves or one another in her often humorous remarks.

The most important take away from Dr. Beth Grosshans, besides a copy of her book, “Beyond Time Out: From Chaos To Calm”, was her five steps to raising self-controlled, respectful and cooperative children. Her step by step process is a strategy and not a punishment. It works well for most children and is consistent behavior for families to live and grow in harmony.

Leave a comment
Kathy’s Insights