My daughter started in the Junior classroom (ages 3-5) this year. I love the mixed age classrooms, the small class size, and the child-directed learning. I love that the school has a dedicated art room, science room and outdoor classroom. I love that they have Stretch & Grow come to teach the kids about nutrition, exercise and health. I love that they are teaching spanish and music every week. Being a co-op is especially important to me because as a parent I can have a lot of input into what goes on at the school. There are 17 different committees for parents to join to further the schools goals. Parents are also on the board of directors. Academically my daughter has taught herself addition, geography, lifeskills, and social skills. I love that the teachers are very hands off and allowing the children to make mistakes and learn from them. I LOVE that the kids get at least an hour outside almost every day if not more. Montessori Co-op School has been around for over 30 years and because of the immense passion of the staff and parents it is an amazing school perfect for any child seeking a Montessori education.
My toddler started at MPCC in September of last year, right when she was 18 months old. I have been extremely impressed with the school, both due to her progress as well as the sense of community the school provides. I have not experienced what others have discussed with regards to the "inner circle"...everyone has been extremely welcoming. I will say that parental involvement is very important and expected at this school, so if you are looking for a place where you can just drop off and pick up, this is likely not the school for you. The move to the new building offered us the opportunity to meet the other parents and teachers, with everyone working towards a common goal. The school really is like a second home, where everyone knows you and cares about the future of your child.
This school is not for everyone, but it is for parents and students who are reflective about early childhood and elementary education, who think education is holistic and not compartmentalized, who think that relationships between staff, teachers and parents are very important, and who think students have tremendous capacities that should be explored and allowed to develop in individuals ways. Students are often trained to follow instructions, not think because being able to follow instructions precisely is what is rewarded. At this school, what is cultivated (not rewarded) is learning, curiosity, teamwork and problem-solving. What children in other schools are told to learn by following instructions, children at this school learn because they are self-motivated to discover it themselves. As for parent involvement, there are time commitments and slight headaches because of the nature of collective, democratic and inclusive decision-making. Those inconveniences are a small price to pay for having direct input into the quality education of your children and your children's classmates. And the benefits of the Coop are great. Access to information is far greater than other schools.
This is my second child to attend Montessori preschool, but our first at MPCC and we LOVE it. It is a nurturing place, and I like that it is nonprofit and parents are involved (as little or much as desired). I've had experience with two other preschools/daycare and also public elem school and I'm much happier with my ability to be involved and to make a difference at MPCC. My daughter has only been there a year and I don't know everyone, nor am I in the "inner circle," but I don't want to be. We're a dual career family and we do the minimum (and that's ok). There are some parents who are more invested because they've had kids at the school for ten years or more. But I find that there is always some way to get involved if one is willing to step up. At my older daughter's for profit Montessori, our high tuition went to the owner's pocket--here we see the financials each month and see our $ pays for teachers and the facility and educational materials. More important, my daughter loves going to school each day, she is thriving, and we are happy with her care. Plus the facility is beautiful and people are friendly. We plan to stay until kindergarten, maybe longer.
The environment at the school is affected by the way it is run. Be prepared to contend with a lot of politics. As was stated earlier on this forum, there is an inner circle of parents in this school. The term "coop" as well as the monthly meetings for parents are deceptive. You will not have a say in the decisions the school makes if you are not a member of this inner circle. Be prepared for politics as well as pressure to ask your friends and family to write donation checks to the school. In accordance with another parents remark, there is no transparency. Teachers are frequently absent and in the 6 months we were there, two teachers quit abruptly and we were given no insight into the situation. I was bombarded several times by different parents, in an effort to sway my votes during the parent meetings. In the instances when this happened, children were around and listening. It occurs to me that some of the parents at MPCC enjoy the political nature of this organization. However, I felt it detracted from my primary goal which was my child's education and development and it created an atmosphere that was more about politics and bureaucracy than what was best for the students.
MPCC is a really unique place. It has felt like a second home for my daughter. I am a developmental psychologist by training and the principles of child development that I really believe are crucial for healthy development are all found here. My child has freedom within limits, is self directed, and her social and emotional needs are equally valued.
My daughter has been in the toddler room for nearly a year and we could not be happier about her classroom. Her teachers are intelligent and caring and do a wonderful job of imparting the Montessori values and curriculum. The school is a bit disorganized administratively at times, but it's not for lack of caring. Sometimes it's because parents do a good bit of the administrative work and we all have other priorities at times. The school just moved to a new location and the administrator and staff are trying to figure out all the logistics for everything. The building is lovely, the staff are caring, and my kid is happy to go to school and still happy when I pick her up at the end of the day. She's also just barely over age 2 and surprised me the other night be telling me the sounds that several letters make. And compared to her last childcare situation, she has hardly ever been sick enough to have to miss school. I'm assuming this means that they are doing a decent job with hygiene there. We LOVE the place.
I planned on my son attending the Montessori Parents Coop when he turned 18 months since he was born because I strongly believe in the Montessori method and it is in our neighborhood. We did a visit when he was only 16 months old and I stayed in the basement area with my 5 year old while he stayed in the toddler area for a couple hours. He didn't cry at first at all, he went with the teacher right away and seemed to like her. He bit a student, which I am sad to report, he had learned from his previous placement and we were working on that behavior over summer vacation. My 5 year old was also supposed to visit the Kindergarten classroom and they cancelled that visit the same morning. A woman called me the next day to tell me that the teachers talked and that neither of my children could attend the Montessori Parents Coop because they did not fit into their school. They told me to call another person if I wanted to know why they did not fit into their school..I called and no one ever called me back.