My daughter has been enrolled at TMS for four years. She began in Ms. Holly?s classroom when she was three and has continued into the elementary program. Within several months I knew that if they ever started an elementary program we?d be very interested. TMS applies the Montessori approach thoughtfully and effectively, giving the children freedom in an ordered way. The school is peaceful, welcoming, and highly academic.
The elementary program has quickly lived up to this promise. The two teachers are amazing; the caliber of instruction is everything we could have hoped for and is firmly grounded in Montessori principles. The children are learning in a remarkably positive classroom.
No school is going to be everything to everybody. Before giving too much credence to reviews, mine or anyone else?s, I really suggest visiting the school.
Here are some highlights from our family?s experience with the TMS Elementary program:
- A genuine concern and responsiveness during family troubles. When a family member was ill and dying, the school showed great care for my daughter?s feelings and for the state of our entire family.
- An approach to ?work? that is inspiring. The children are engaged in rigorous learning, and are justifiably proud of that effort, but aren't burnt-out or resistant to increasing challenges. I attribute this to the overall tone that is supportive of achievements but doesn?t emphasize extrinsic rewards. Children work because they enjoy learning.
- Instruction that encourages children to deepen their understanding of a topic. Recently the children focused on Ancient Egypt and created a museum at the school. Not only could parents come by to hear each child describe their individual research, but later that day, the young students from the primary program came down to hear the presentations and see the models and drawings as well. Each elementary student got to present their research several times, giving them such pride in their work.
- Inclusion of activities in the school day that at other schools would be tacked on at the end of the day, requiring extra payments and time away from family activities. Soccer, gymnastics, Chinese, Art, Spanish... all are integrated into the school week.
- Limited home-based work. We practice spelling for about 10-15 minutes every night (each child works with a teacher to determine their own spelling words each week), but the idea is that home life is important and should be protected. Instead of homework, we see our child making connections between what she learns in school and what she sees around her. I don?t think the children see learning as just a ?school thing.?
- An environment that encourages children to work out their differences thoughtfully, kindly, and peacefully. When disagreements arise, the teachers are an immediate resource. They guide the children in ways to sort things out without doing the work for them. I?ve seen my daughter blossom socially, and I believe this is due to the enormous care the teachers take in walking that fine line.
Full disclosure: I?m a volunteer at the school (not required), and once a week run a literary discussion group for the elementary class.
Best wishes as you search for a good fit for your child and your family.