BMS is truly one of a kind. We have lived in several cities and my older child has attended schools differing in philosophies/styles, but BMS is by far our favorite. Both of our kids (in the elementary and preschool) are flourishing here. The teachers are deeply committed and treat the children with respect and compassion. The curriculum is centered around peace and inclusivity -- we feel honored to be a part of it.
My experience with BMS started when I worked for a year as a teacher's assistant in the 6-9 (1st-3rd) classroom before returning to graduate school. The wonderful outcomes I saw there persuaded me to put my son on the waitlist for the preschool just two weeks after he was born, and now as he is finishing his second semester at BMS, we are seeing so much fruit from the teachers' patient and consistent approaches. One thing I would point out is that BMS stands out even among Montessori programs. Beyond the native virtues of the Montessori method (which is truly the way to go, especially for young children), BMS has strong music instruction and Spanish starting at age 3--taught in a way appropriate to the children's absorbent minds (not as a "foreign language" but through small-group immersion experiences like stories, games, and songs). BMS is also more "academic" than some Montessori schools; in the 6-9 classroom, children do independent research, science, weekly literature circles, and math. I saw them rapidly progress in mathematics. I saw such a range of personalities thrive, and there is no better environment for cultivating native curiosity, self-direction, and self-control.
We thought about sending our children to the Bloomington Montessori because we watched the children of parents we knew blossom into intelligent, inquisitive adults with a life-long love for learning. These children (now adults) heavily credited BMS with helping them to be who they are. After investigating the Montessori methods and researching student outcomes, we felt it would be great for our children. Each classroom has at least one head teacher that is a certified Montessori teacher with one or two assistant teachers with training in either Montessori teaching or degrees in early childhood education. The ratio of students to teachers is kept at 10 to 1 or lower. Students stay in the same classroom with the same teacher for three years so the head teacher really gets to know each child. Montessori education works best when a child starts young (3 or 4) as their natural curiosity is nurtured to increase attention span and focus. They also learn time management skills at a very young age by establishing their work plans (starting in the first grade) which will serve them well for the rest of their lives. I cannot recommend this school highly enough.
Both of my children have attend since the age of 3. We are extremely happy with the instruction, the Montessori method and the level of high quality learning. The school offers an excellent aftercare program and summer camps. Parents are very involved.
Excellent school. I had qualms about beginning my preschooler in this program, since it seemed so serious, so we started her in two. We quickly settled on this one. Couldn't have made a better choice. We feel so fortunate to have our child in this program. The teachers come to know the children so well, and keep the total child in mind. Every aspect of the child is considered -- social development, intellectual development, and so forth. It would have been easy, in another program, for my child to be considered good, or easy, but the teachers were concerned about aspects of her development that were cause for concern, and worked with us to develop strategies to gently lead her toward agreed-upon goals. She has bloomed in this environment. The curriculum is excellent, as are the principles of the program, but it's the staff that really make it outstanding.
My son is highly skewed...a very early reader able to grasp and address complex scientific concepts who is socially delayed. There is no other school in our town that could meet both his needs. The multi-aged classrooms are perfect for him. A Montessori education is not suited for every child. Your child must be self-directed and able to work in a busy environment. The academic program is unmatched in Bloomington...gifted-and-talented level work. Music, art, basic physical education and Spanish are included in the curriculum, but you would need to go elsewhere (the YMCA is next door) for public-school level extracurricular activities. BMS is a parent-run school, so parent involvement is also unmatched. Each family is required to work a minimum of 10 hours per year...many work more. The school is also very conscious of peaceful resolutions to conflict...beginning with 'using words' in preschool to class-wide discussions in 1-3 class.