Words cannot express how in awe I am of this gem of a preschool. My son loves it and so do my husband and I! In fact, we love the school so much that we drive our son every day from Beverly Hills to Hollywood so that he can attend.
I had been planning to write a review for some time, but after this week's events I can't write it fast enough! Every day my son goes to school happy and excited about the adventures that await him. He comes home talking about painting, water jobs, puzzles, letters, numbers and continents, but also about baking raisin bread and sharing it with his friends, gardening and how fast the fruits and vegetables are growing, or how he is a sheep in the next school play. Some of his experiences he loves so much he tries to recreate them at home; so he will show me a yoga pose he did that day (""try it mommy""), recite a Chinese rhyme (mommy isn't so good at these), do the gestures to a French song (I try!) or show me what a whole, a half and a quarter note look like and how those make up the rhythm of a song (""clap with me mommy""). Other times he will tell me how he played outside with his friends with Legos and trains (his favorite) or with the ride-on cars and bicycles.
Needless to say, our son is having a fabulous time at school! But the event that triggered me to finally write this review occurred earlier this week when he came home with a list of 3-letter words that he had written himself and that he couldn't wait to read to me(!). Although my son has always been interested in letters and how they sound, the fact that he is reading and writing even simple words at only 3.5 years old shocked me. This also shows another strength of the school. Certain activities are done in group, other activities are done individually with only assistance from the teachers as needed, and others still are done 1 on 1 with a teacher who will sit with a child and focus on something challenging that the child likes to do (e.g. phonetics, counting, complex puzzles etc.). This provides an environment where each child is able to learn at his or her own pace, and allows children to excel at the things they are interested in while encouraging them to develop a well-rounded set of skills.
Even more important, the school places great focus on helping the children to build critical social skills. Our son is understanding the concept of sharing, taking turns and has even developed some conflict resolution skills (e.g. talking through a conflict, compromising, etc.). The older children “mentor” the younger ones throughout this process and, as a result, our son has many friends at the school (of all ages).
This cooperative atmosphere extends beyond the children. The parent community at this school is a community in which you are welcomed with open arms, whether you are a parent of a child in his or her first year at the school or a parent of a child in his or her final year. Not only does this make after-school activities easy and fun, it results in great friendships. We have even vacationed with other families from the school!
The director of the school is a visionary who has developed a program that encourages the children to have fun while learning and honing their social skills. Most importantly, the program infuses in the children a love for learning and a sense of independence and accomplishment. All of this is implemented by the director herself as well as a stellar group of teachers. They are all very knowledgeable and loving (often, our son is greeted at the door with a hug).
Montessori Shir Hashirim offers a safe, welcoming environment in which the children can learn and play. And it works! The social development, the education, the independence and the exposure to so many different topics are second to none and provide a perfect start in life!
This preschool is a jewel!