Willowwind is an excellent school. My daughter has been attending since 2009. The children are given ample opportunity to be creative and express themselves. They develop a phenomenal perspective on many issues that affect our society. Through interactive projects and field trips, they have an engaging curriculum. The children do academically very well in math, reading, and science. Although the sample size is small to make statistical inferences. children score well beyond their peers in the ITBS exam. I think the one-star October 21, 2014 review is very unfair!
I felt compelled to write this after coming across the recent extraordinarily negative review from Oct. 21. Our child attended preschool at Willowwind (as well as the Montessori School of Iowa City), and is now in kindergarten at Willowwind. The aforementioned review cites the "onslaught of worksheets and timed exercises." I am not sure how spending 5 - 10 minutes a day working with your child on math, reading and spelling is an onslaught. And as to being "timed" - one of the exercises is a sorting game to learn basic sounds (th, ch, etc) and after sorting untimed, parents are asked to trying timing it on the next day to make it fun, to try to keep it from being boring (which our kid enjoys). As to individualized approaches, the children were assessed on their capabilities in the first couple weeks of school, and then given level appropriate exercises. Regarding "creative engagement" just one example: my child brought home a drawing of a fictional character using only geometric shapes (the goal obviously to familiarize them with various shapes). In short, the only thing I have been overwhelmed by is how wonderful my child's experience has been thus far.
We were big fans of Willowwind when my child was in preschool, but were DEEPLY disappointed with the kindergarten, which turned out to be a miserable experience for us all. My child began the year happy and enthusiastic about school, but an onslaught of worksheets and timed exercises without any creative engagement or individualized approaches (which one would expect in a private school with half the class size of a public school) left my child feeling bored, overwhelmed with tasks, stressed, and with a negative self-image. Meetings with the teacher and head of school were completely ineffectual. Thank goodness for more qualified and experienced teachers in the public schools who have been able to help my bright child feel positive about learning and to shine again!
Willowwind is a fantastic school for preschool and elementary students. My child attended the montessori preschool, and it was incredible how much she learned over the course of the year. When I first visited Willowwind, I thought it was all play and no academic learning. I was amazed that after just a couple of weeks my child knew the planets, the continents, the days of the week (in English and Spanish), and much more. By the end of one year, my child was reading, developing basic addition and subtraction, had a good grasp on geography, and could explain basic science concepts (color change, life cycle of plants, facts about animals and human bodies, etc.). Children spend ample time outdoors (a couple of hours, maybe, not just 15 minutes here and there) and become invested in the care and keeping of their environment, both indoor and outdoor. This school focuses on teaching children independence and responsibility in all areas of their lives--social, academic, and personal health and wellbeing. Nutrition is specifically emphasized, and children are encouraged to help themselves to fruits and vegetables when they are hungry. I would highly recommend Willowwind School.
The best part about Willowwind is that all focus is on the students, and what is best for each child. The individual education plans are terrific. Our kids love the campus, the teachers, and the staff.
Both my sons attend this school. One in 5ht and one in pre K. We started in Feb. 09 My oldest has went from hating school to loving it again. The teachers, staff, and approach are above the rest. Kids come first at this school! It is the best.
My son joined Willowwind preschool last year and has made enormous progress since then. The school environment is wonderful and the teachers are absolutely wonderful. My son comes home everyday very happy, proud of himself. I would recommend this preschool for any family who are looking to move into this area.