I disagree with the previous post about educational involvement, but I understand how the previous poster could interpret things way. As anyone knows, separation for a 3yr from a parent for the first month of a new school can be traumatic and tearful for the child. Sunny Hollow has in place a proven drop-off and pick-up procedure which fosters independence and confidence in even the little ones. Mothers doting over their child during classroom work hours creates confusion and distraction for all children. However, any parent is welcome to come well before the drop off or stay well after the drop off and go into the classroom with the child. Parent can also request to silently observe the classroom during the day. The school also hosts "welcome wednesday" events where the children and their guide invite all parents into the class to show what they are working on. I've never heard a teacher treat a child with disrespect. In fact, they treat the children like capable individuals with personal responsibility appropriate to their age level. The teachers and the staff are very approachable by email, phone, or a meeting at the parents convenience.
I would not recommend this school. They do encourage parent involvement but only in terms of money and volunteer work-- not educational involvement. There are almost zero opportunities to speak with the teachers and you may not step foot in the child's classroom. Also, I have heard my child's teacher yell at him on the playground in a disrespectful manner in front of all his classmates...in only his first month of the program at 3 yrs old. This school has been a huge disappointment for my family. The environment is beautiful and safe but bottom line is that this school is not a good choice if parents want to know what is going on in the classroom-- it's the number one complaint I hear from many other mothers here at pickup time.
We have been involved with Sunny Hollow for almost 8 years, with three boys now at the school (1st grade, 3rd grade, and 5th grade). It offers a wonderful, quality education that helps children be serious, critical thinkers, yet also nourishes their childish spirit. The educational philosophy is sophisticated, the classrooms are organized, and the materials are lovely. Because the students are together for so many years, as well as with the same teacher for a number of years, the classes tend to have the feel of a happy family (of course with things to work out at times too!). The setting of the school is peaceful and pretty, overlooking the Mississippi river, which only adds to its appeal. We highly recommend this gem of a school.
Our daughter is in kindergarten at Sunny Hollow and we couldn't be happier. She is already writing in cursive (!) and sounding out words, plus she has shown me the "stamp game" where she is adding numbers out to the thousands.(!) Finally, it really feels like a wonderful, peaceful, happy place to learn. I really don't think there is much more that a school can do to help a child learn.
We love Sunny Hollow too! When our child entered the school, we had no idea just how much we would love it. We feel like the guides really know our child (and us too) and work with each child to ignite their spark for learning. We also feel like the teachers are very responsive to any concerns you may have (and easy to communicate with via phone or e-mail) and there is a feeling of teamwork. What has been one of the most unexpected (but hoped for) perks is the community. We have made such wonderful friends (this includes the whole family) and there are tons of opportunities for gatherings (school wide, classroom wide, play dates, informal get togethers etc.). It is also nice how the children stay in the same Children's House each year, with the same staff and children. This has given our child a lot of confidence and amazing friendships. Last, as a family who receives financial aid, we feel very supported at Sunny Hollow. We know SH values economic diversity and appreciate this so very much. I have such confidence in Sunny Hollow and my child's education. It is a wonderful feeling to have!
Our two sons are here & both are loving it (CH and E). I looked at 13+ schools (for K) along with Mom & Husband, & we all really liked SHM. The Guides really care for the kids and my boys exhibit such joy being there. They are really learning a lot, & are internally motived to do so. As a SAHM, I have time to be involved in the school, so I volunteer as I Guide (help in the classrooms) and serve on a Committee. There are also various educational and social events & the school asks that each family volunteer 10 hours a year. Harder for some, I'm sure, but I'm easily able to do that & like being in the classroom, as it helps me better understand the Montessori process. All parents are welcome to observe as well. My kids love to run, & I was concerned about the lack of formal gym (there is an activity area in the bsmt) but the E kids have PE twice a week (which was consistent with many other schools, including Horace Mann and Highland Elementary) plus recess. The CHs go outside as much as they can & play in the playground, or run around in the downstairs area on rainy days. Only 4 stars b/c of the facilities, but the Board is working on that always. All in all, we love it!
After doing an extensive preschool search, we landed at Sunny Hollow and couldn't be happier. I thought we would stay through the primary level, but were so impressed with the success and development of my oldest son we decided to stay for elementary. He is in his first year of elementary and the joy and pride in learning he shows is beautiful. The curriculum is rigorous, while there is still focus on the emotional and social development of the child. The staff is very committed to the whole child, the community is very warm and welcoming, it is simply a wonderful school. I am confident my children will grow up to be joyful life long learners and competent citizens, in large part thanks to their education they are receiving at Sunny Hollow.
Our two daughters have attended Sunny Hollow Montessori for the past two years and we couldn't be more proud to be a part of the Sunny Hollow community. As a former elementary teachers I was particular about the type environment I wanted for our girls and we chose Montessori specifically because it fosters compassion, independence and critical thinking. When I observed in both the Children's House and Elementary classrooms, what I saw was real, authentic, genuine learning going on. The children were genuinely interested in their work, they were collaborating and learning from one another. It was a very different scenario from most schools where the teacher pushes information to the children. I feel in love with Sunny Hollow at that moment. The teachers at Sunny Hollow are passionate, committed, incredibly smart and have been trained to observe the unique qualities in every child. They really get to know every child and invest in every child. They pour their heart and soul into what they do..and it shows. Other schools tout the "things" they have to offer the children. Sunny Hollow offers more than "things"...it fosters a life-long love of learning.
My child has been attending Sunny Hollow for the last 3 years and I have yet to have an issue with this school. The teachers continue year after year to inspire, guide and facilitate learning in a broad range of subjects. I considered my child very timid at reading and her teachers wisely worked reading into things she was interested in. She was so excited with her work, she didn't even realize she was building up sight words. Now she is reading with pride and vigor, and I deeply believe a traditional school would have forced reading in a way that would have left her behind and still hating it. In response to other parents comments, Sunny Hollow does have gym class for elementary students. They also get plenty of outdoor time along the Mississippi River, hiking and doing nature work. Each elementary classroom has a library of books, and the teachers frequently visit St Paul Public Libraries to bring a child advanced books of interest when needed. My child is multi-racial and lives in a co-parenting family and I've never experienced any intolerance for race or individual circumstances. I highly recommend Sunny Hollow and look forward to many more years there.
Sunny Hollow is a fabulous preschool and elementary school. The teachers are incredible--talented and devoted. The Head of School is fully committed to the school, and provides strong leadership. And the families and children round out an amazing community. My child has attended Sunny Hollow since she was three. She is now a thriving elementary student. Montessori education is giving her strong academic fundamentals. Even more importantly, she is inspired about learning every day. I am so pleased with AMI Montessori, and we love Sunny Hollow.
I would not recommend this school. It lack diversity which is a key component for understanding other cultures, religions, learning styles, and races. There is a complete lack of parental involvement in the classroom. There is no gym, library or media center. My children were not challenged academically. The school claims to work with children individually but with the number of children in a classroom, this allows for very little time spent with each child, each day or week. I would urge anyone considering this school to look at the many other superior schools in the area - both public and private.
My son has been at Sunny Hollow in their preschool program for the past two years and we love it. The school is very well-run, the teachers are excellent and the parents are involved. My son is a typical active boy and I was worried that the Montessori method wouldn't work for him. His teachers love energy, however, and work constructively with it. He has learned so much, has many wonderful friends and is even learning French. The school could use more diversity and it definitely appeals to the urban granola professional, but its a very welcoming community.
This school continues to amaze me every year that our daughter grows and learns. My tuition dollars are spent to protect the Montessori experience that exists between my child and the other children, the materials within the room and the teachers who have shaped her beyond belief to be a person of incredible curiosity. We have another daughter who is in public school this year who is bored beyond belief because she is so far ahead. I hope each person who considers this school really asked themselves what they are truly hoping to get from a school. This school has been a community experience that just keeps getting better every year.
I love this school. My child has never been happier and he is learning so much. He is very active and gets to play outside every day if the weather permits. He is in his first year of preschool and we are definitely returning next year.
I would not recommend this school. Our tuition dollars were sadly wasted. The school offers limited opportunities for field trips, there is no library, there is no gym and there is no cafeteria. I would encourage anyone considering this school to inquire about parental involvement and observation in the classroom to ensure that their children are being fully developed. There is very limited communication with and from the guides (teachers).
Sunny Hollow is a school filled with committed, caring people, from the part-time assistant to the head of school. Our children are challenged daily to develop skills beyond their years, and they have developed a love for learning that will help them succeed now and throughout life. The entire school community is one of respect for others and their environment, and the administrators have been open and creative to ensure every child has individual needs met. This school is the best of its kind in the St. Paul area.
Every one of our tuition dollars has been well spent at Sunny Hollow and I am extremely pleased with the development of the school over the last few years. My kids continue to impress me with the social and intellectual competencies they have developed, which are well ahead of where I was at the same age. They are consistently engaged and interested in their work, for which I thank the guides (teachers) and their commitment to the application of unadulterated Montessori principles. The staff turnover is extremely low, and school leadership has enhanced programming by providing physical education and after-school clubs and activities.
This is a great school. The teachers are all very experienced and encourage parent involvement. Despite what you may think of a Montessori School to be there is plenty of active play. I would highly recommend it and have!
We could not be happier with Sunny Hollow. Our son is thriving and it is a direct result of the nurturing environment provided by the faculty and staff. The community is filled with caring and engaged families that strive to continually improve the school and the programs available. The guides foster independance and self reliance in each child, something that is lost in most preschools. Criticisms seem unwarranted and uninformed. I would recommend Sunny Hollow to anyone looking into Montessori education.
This is not a good school for an active child. There is no physical education and very little opportunity for active play throughout the day. It is at the teachers discretion if the children go outside to play. The leadership at the school is inexperienced and not receptive to parents concerns. I would strongly advise anyone considering Sunny Hollow to observe at various Montessori schools and consider other options.
Community ratings and reviews do not represent the views of GreatSchools nor does GreatSchools check their accuracy or verify the reviewers' identities. Use your discretion when evaluating these reviews.
The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.
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