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Digging Through Old Files Leads to Gems

Categories: Events / For Parents / General Knowledge Fund / WMS News / WMS Programs

Digging Through Old Files Leads to Gems

While preparing for her upcoming workshop series, “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk,”  Tracy Fortun looked through her old files from the last time she taught the workshop at Wheaton Montessori School.  She came across a gem of a write-up, written by Andrea Richardson, now a WMS Jr. High parent.   Mrs. Fortun emailed Andrea with the discovery and said that she hopes to “live up to expectations this time around.”


Andrea (who also has a son who “graduated” from WMS before we opened our Jr. High program) responded:


I am so so thrilled that you found this and Scot will be too. I warned him he’d have to pull out all the old hard drives so I could get a quote for Suzanna because I couldn’t find this locally and there was no Google Drive back then (how did we live!!).

Looking back 13 years later, I don’t think I would change a thing except for the run on sentences. My sentiment is the same. The class was powerful and practical and I am so grateful for it. We had no idea what we were doing and most of the time our natural tendency was too short-sighted. We learned to think long-term and we saw the power of not being overly reactive in the moment. 
I have no doubt you will exceed expectations. I adore this material but could never teach it in a way that would be accepted by others. You are especially gifted in this way Tracy. We are such lucky parents.  


Andrea Richardson

The Original: Everything I Need to Know About Parenting I Learned in Tracy’s Workshop

by Andrea Richardson, WMS parent


If you think I’m exaggerating you would be right, but I also can’t emphasize enough how many effective skills and techniques I picked up through attending her workshop “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen so Kids Will Talk”.  Without making this an infomercial for how great I think Wheaton Montessori is – because I could write an essay on that as well – I should mention that: 1) No one asked me to write this – my experience with the class was so good I asked if I could share it with other parents; and 2) We are big fans of the school.  Our son Nicholas is having a great experience there and we really believe in and appreciate the dedicated, passionate staff and the environment that is having such a positive influence on our child.  So yes, maybe we’re a little rah-rah about WMS but I also think it’s safe to say we are pretty good judges of things that affect our quality of life.


All that being said, life became more challenging for us as parents last year when our second child was born. Duh, right?  Of course we expected as much but more often than we liked we were experiencing tantrums, yelling, hitting, refusals, being ignored, food strikes, throwing, etc. with our three year old.  Now, I consider myself a well-educated individual (formally trained in Psychology no less) and I thought I was a pretty creative mom who really tried to figure out my child’s psyche, yet as the parent, remain firm and in control, but I remember thinking to myself as I witnessed countless situations getting out of hand, “Hmm.  That didn’t work”.  In the midst of this, I saw the flyer from school for the “How to Talk” workshop and I thought, “Hmm.  Yeah, I would like a 3 year-old that listens.  Especially since he supposedly listens to his teachers.  Sign me up!”  I knew it wasn’t a “Montessori class” and that was okay because I didn’t think that’s what I needed, but the time and financial commitment was more than fair so I signed up my husband and myself.


I don’t know that any of us knew what to expect of the workshop.  To be quite honest, maybe I was half-looking for a place to vent about my three year-old and some pre-arranged babysitting – but what I got out of it was so much more than I could put into words.  Yes, there is assigned reading and there are weekly homework assignments (trust me though – you’ll want to do these!) but there is no grade and best of all Tracy doesn’t lecture you on parenting.  What she does do is present the material and guide you through the process of learning and practicing the techniques.  She also shares quite a bit from her experience as an AMI trained teacher and a mom of two young children (and much to my surprise I learned that AMI teachers have some of the same challenges that we mere mortal parents have).  There are videos to watch and while they are laughably dated in some respects, they are also surprisingly powerful at showing how the simple techniques that the authors advocate can be really effective ways to interact with children.


I want to stress that the techniques are not complicated and they aren’t going to make your life more confusing (In fact, one of my favorites is “Don’t just do something.  Stand there.”  It may sound funny, but I am serious as a heart attack when I say that it works.).  If anything, they simplify things and the more you use them the more they become a habit.  I was almost startled by how simple and straightforward the techniques were and over time I must admit that using them takes less effort than all the “creative”, yet less effective, things we were trying to do before.  You don’t have to sit through discussions on different theories of child-rearing or even presentations of child development.  Every week, in the video and readings, you are presented with practical solutions to typical, everyday situations and once you start trying them out you almost become addicted because the results are so surprisingly (at times) positive.


Maybe the best testimony is that, months later, we are still using the techniques.  My husband has his favorites and I have mine and it is now a rare occasion where a tiny instance like getting ready for bed, or putting on shoes to get out the door, escalates into what it used to.  On the first day of the workshop Tracy asked each of us why we were there and we heard the whole gamut of typical responses from people.  I remember she, as a parent, said something about how being the perfect parent was impossible but that any time you can manage a sketchy situation with your child without it turning into a screaming, hitting, meltdown-fest, it’s a good thing.  I completely agree.  Naturally I think we were good parents before the workshop but through the workshop I think we learned how to become more effective parents too.


It’s not too late to register for Mrs. Fortun’s upcoming workshop!  You can reserve your space HERE (there are about 5 spaces left.)