My daughter will complete the Adolescent Program in May. As we start looking at high schools, I have been reflecting on the qualities that attracted us to Arbor many years ago. The list is long! To name a few: individual instruction, respect for children, environmentally focused, the Outdoor Program, opportunities for child leadership, parent involvement, encouraging teachers and staff.
Arbor welcomed both my children for lower elementary (1st grade) and nurtured their individual needs through the middle school experience. Even with completely different personalities and learning styles, both of my children found the classrooms challenging and interesting. They had opportunities to explore areas of interest, take personal responsibility, support peers, challenge their comfort zones and develop leadership skills. My older child is now a successful student in a traditional private high school. He was prepared for the rigorous academic requirements and made friends quickly and confidently at his new school.
If you are considering Arbor, there are many amazing opportunities available for you and your child. However, parents should expect to contribute, participate and get involved. Those who are involved in their child's classroom and partner with the school will see the amazing qualities of a Montessori child....curiosity, cooperation, communication, creativity, responsibility and more.
As my younger child prepares to leave the comfort of her Arbor home in May, we are sad to leave the school but excited about the future opportunities. We have seen repeatedly that the children leaving Arbor are confident adolescents prepared to contribute to their communities (school, church, neighborhood, etc). They can solve problems and think on their own. They love learning and seek new challenges. They are confident in their abilities and have strong social skills. I'm thankful my children had the opportunity for a Montessori education at Arbor.
I agree with those who question the limits of a Montessori education beyond the younger years. We had a great experience early on but the new crew running this school are doing damage. The middle school lacks direction and focus. Weak, defensive leadership. Our son definitely learned to think and had a wonderful experience in the primary and lower elementary program, but we were not competitive against other top-notch Atlanta private schools despite very high standardized testing scores necessary to apply. The fact that so many intelligent, accomplished children seem to have found similar limitations suggested in this forum means the efficacy of the pedagogy should be questioned--- at least the way it is applied in the upper years at Arbor. The level of teacher effectiveness is inconsistent. I agree with the reviewer's who criticize the school for settling on friends and family for teaching positions. If you have a good public school, you will save money and get a better (at least in terms of covering the core particularly in math and science). education there; if you can get into a better private school--- definitely go. We had to leave Arbor to finally get into another private school and found the standards and quality to be so much better for the money we were spending. If you believe in Montessori education, enjoy the younger year program but beware of the uneven social club that seems to follow.
Two of our children attended Arbor Montessori for 6 years. The biggest strength of this school is their respect of and approach towards teaching children. They believe in the ability of children to be self advocating, responsible and productive members of a community. Beginning in the primary classroom, the emphasis is on respect and courtesy of fellow classmates. This carries on through elementary, middle school and throughout their adult lives. Students are encouraged to trust their own abilities in handling difficult situations both socially and academically. My children walked away from this school independent minded with a stake in their own future.
While it may appear administration and teachers are more 'hands off' in dealing with conflicts between students, there is conscious teaching going on. Children are learning to self advocate with their peers. The skills and confidence they gain will last a lifetime.
While I appreciate the hard work of teachers and staff at Arbor, I feel the young people who attend Arbor are deserving of a thank you for making this community a truly special place. There are children at Arbor who continually rise to the occasion - they are enthusiastic, kind and extremely bright!
There is no homework through 6 grade and homework in the Adolescent Program 7-8 grade). The amount of homework in the Adolescent Program is appropriate. Homework serves a number of purposes, among them, repetition of concepts taught in the classroom, and an opportunity for the parent to see what the child is struggling with or proficient at. No homework through 6th grade is very respectful of family time, but it can leave parents, who don't have the opportunity to peer over their child's shoulder as they do their homework, wondering where their child is academically. Are they proficient or struggling? I loved it that my children did not have homework, but that's a very personal choice that worked for our family.
Absolutely! Nothing develops resilience like being empowered to try something on your own; and, no matter the outcome, success or not, being given the opportunity to try again. Kids at Arbor have that opportunity all the time. To try, and success or failure, try again.
I think the school is very respectful of the student. Children are given a fair amount of freedom (with limits) to learn in a manner that is respectful of their learning styles. It is very respectful and empowering for an 9 year old child to be given the authority to plan an excursion (or going out), on her own, to meet her learning needs. The child can think about a particular topic that she wishes to learn more about, plan the excursion that will permit her to obtain the information she needs and then make it happen. She is responsible or calling, for example, the museum, finding out the price of the excursion, budgeting for the trip, arranging transportation etc. That is remarkably empowering, and says to the child, I trust you and have a profound amount of respect for your ability to do what needs to be done to obtain the results you need.