This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Brooklyn Heights Montessori School2
Posted April 24, 2014
- a parent
This school was a waste of my son's time. He has ADHD and they couldn't cope with his issues. Whenever he wanted to show his intelligence, they would force him to take a break while recess happened. This doesn't match his personality, because he is a really active person who likes to run around and play. If your child wants to learn, but struggles, don't send him/her there. Failure may be guaranteed for these types of kids. However, some people may have enjoyed their education there, because they were able to survive a small school with a big classroom. This school needs an update.
BHMS is a seriously bottom heavy school, with over a hundred kids in Pre-school & around 20 in the entire Middle School. Those 20 kids are pretty tight, but I worry about them heading off to HS. Complaints? We were advised to remove our eldest child who had learning problems whilst another more cashed up family were offered 2 years of preferential treatment for their more academically challenged boy. The School is VERY $$$ friendly. The board is almost exclusively made up of club of wealthy white moms, whose entire Modus Operandi seems to bring MORE rich white moms to the school. When my kids started their over 10 years ago, the BHMS parent community was such a mixed society of artists, musicians, grocery store clerks, bankers & all... Now it seems the trust fund kids are running the show. Bullying is an issue. One close friend had their child hounded from the school mid year. Teachers seem ill equipped or unwilling to deal. The music department is HORRENDOUSLY run. Sports are improving. My youngest flourishes in the school however. Academically & socially it's the perfect fit for him, though he'll be removed before Middle School to get used to the real world.
My oldest child spent eight years in the school, and her three younger siblings also attended. All four of them flourished there with all their different personalities, abilities, and interests. BHMS is a small school that allows every child to have their time to shine. The school remains true to Maria Montessori's tenants through middle school. This is a great for the kids, but often difficult for some parents who start worrying that their child will not be able to deal with the larger competitive environment when they leave the school. Having seen so many alumni excel and thrive when they leave for larger and more traditional schools. I can attest that those fears are not warranted. My children were instilled with the self-confidence, a self-directed love for learning, the desire to perform service, and to have respect for others. Two years have passed since we moved from Brooklyn, but my girls still carry those values with them.
We absolutely adore this school. We have a child in both the Upper Elementary division and one in pre-K and we have been blown away by the balance of structure and freedom afforded our children. The environment seems remarkably "safe," or free from cliques and overly-competitive families. There are very high academic expectations as the children rise through the program, and the Montessori pedagogy at work in pre-K has been nothing short of a revelation. (Our oldest went to another "prestigious" pre-k and there is honesty no comparison between the two.) The faculty is engaged and encouraging and the facilities are top-class. It is a smaller school, but we enjoy the benefits that come from the more intimate environment.
This school disappoints both academically and socially. While they talk a good game, the classes are too big and the teachers too checked out to really nurture small children. My child responded to the classroom structure academically but we were shocked to find so little "guiding" done in our class. Kindness is not a classroom value. Bullying and bad behavior go unchecked, as does their work. When we were reviewing a book of subtraction our child had made, some of the answers were wrong. When we asked how the child corrects the work we were told they don't bother with that until the kids are older. We didn't see high quality work displayed from the upper grades so we won't be back next year.
BHMS is a wonderful school. My children have been at this school since preschool and are now in the elementary grades. They are very happy at school and have developed close relationships with their teachers and peers. The children stay with the same teachers for 3 years which allows for these relationships and the teachers really get to know their students both academically and personally. Because of the mixed aged classrooms -- a component of the Montessori philosophy -- the children are encouraged to move beyond their "grade level." Older children take on leadership roles within the class, often teaching and aiding younger children. If children are advanced in certain areas, they are encouraged to work beyond his/her grade level. There are two teachers in each classroom, so the children receive a lot of individualized attention. Children make choices about their work which gives them a sense ownership and responsibility. At BHMS, they don't just talk about educating the "whole child," they actually do it.
I couldn't be happier with BHMS. My two children, who are quite different both adore this school and so do we. The Montessori Method was new to us - mixed age classes child centered, emphasis on community and courtesy - but after four years I am completely sold and feel lucky they are a part of this community. They are engaged, love to learn and have terrific friends. It is different and if you are looking for a school that teaches to the test, fosters competition, and uses standardized methods this is not that school. For us, BHMS really gets it right in terms of educating kids to be people. They are unapologetic about not doing test prep, but do not look down on parents that feel that is important. The materials are great for learning - especially preschool math such as skip counting chains and cubes. The geography study is amazing (map making, culture study) . Not every child will choose every work so they do move along differently. In first grade, they study different virtues, keep a journal, do a lab experiment and present it to the class, have lessons on Shakespeare, cook in the test kitchen, learn Spanish, dance, drama, music...The school is great.
My children have attended the school for 5 years now and we have been very happy with the school. One of my sons had difficulty at first being in a mixed age class. He has sensory issues, adjusting to older children, the fact that they bring the younger kids to their level as opposed to the other way around was overwhelming to my son. I thought the teachers did a spectacular job working with my son. They identified it early, met with us, and had constructive solutions for inside and outside the class. My son now thrives at the school socially and academically. My wife and I joke that it has been a while since we needed a pre-conference conference for our son. Academically he has never had problem with the work, and we have found him to be challenged and doing very well. All and all it has been a great experience and we look forward to many more years at the school.
We had a terrible experience at this school. My daughter, who entered in kindergarten, was constantly bullied in her class, as the other children, who had been in the same class for 3 years, did not want to accept the "new girls". When I complained to the teacher, she minimized the situation. When I went to the administration for help, they immediately became defensive, and started to create a campaign against my family, without even addressing the bullying. After 3 months, we needed to pull both both of our children out of the school, as my daughter was severely traumatized. Sorry for the bad news, but I don't want any other family to have to go through what we endured.