MMS strikes the right balance between nurturing children and setting high academic standards. My children are genuinely excited about learning and I feel that same level of excitement and intellectual curiosity among their peers at school. Further, the mixed age classrooms breeds the ability among the children to support and help those who may need it and to ask for help when they may require it. There are no limits to the pace at which they learn and there is no shame when children require extra support.
We started this school in 2011 with our 5 yo in Kindergarten. We had just moved from the Netherlands, and he did not speak English at all, but we knew from day one he would be n great hands. The teachers checked in with us on a daily base the first two weeks to tell how he did. Everyday we picked up a super happy child. Within 3 months he spoke English, and he kept improving academically. I'm a Montessori child myself, and I am so glad to provide my children with the Montessori education. I love the mixed age groups, and I think the individual learning and teaching is so important for young children. They work and learn in their own pace. In the end they will all learn the same, but without embracing each child's differences in a positive way. All children, yes even the 3 year olds, take so much pride in their work, independence and accomplishments. Our youngest started last year, and just like with the oldest, we are not disappointed at all. Eventhough this is only her second year in the school, she reaches out to the new, and younger children whenever she notices they might need help. All the kids do.
MMS is a small school which works out great. We also have a very strong parent/ family community that is very diverse and international (which makes it a perfect representation of what this exciting city has to offer). Being away from 'home' I call them my extended family. This school has brought us so much more than 'just education'. I'm glad, and grateful we found this 'hidden gem' in the Upper Westside!
Teachers are great, involved, caring, and motivating. Students get to spend 3 years with them in one classroom. All teachers work real hard to provide a warm, and welcoming learning environment for the students.
For European standards this might be a lot, but for us it is just right. The students don't get a lot of homework in the first years until Upper Elementary. By the time they move up to 4th grade they are ready. It's amazing how the students 'change' in such a natural and positive way, and how much pride they take in improving their academical skills.
To my mind, MMS combines the best of what New York City has to offer: top-notch academics in a warm, nurturing and inspiring environment.
This is my family's fifth year at MMS. I have two children who are currently enrolled in the Elementary program. They both started in the preschool. MMS has provided both of my children (who have very different skills and personalities) with what I consider to be an exceptional educational experience. I feel very fortunate that we found our way to this gem of a school.
There are several qualities that, for me, distinguish MMS.
First, the entire MMS community-- the incredible faculty, the administration, the other parents, and the students themselves--seems genuinely interested in getting to know each child for who he or she is. When you are raising kids in the anonymity of Manhattan, this feels especially meaningful.
Second, because the Montessori approach places a strong emphasis on developing the whole child, my kids are acquiring valuable life skills at MMS that I know will serve them well as they mature into adulthood. They're learning how to complete a task from start to finish by breaking it down into steps. They're learning to think and read critically, and to be responsible citizens of the world. And they're learning how to talk out their grievances with friends. This is not to say the work at MMS is always easy or fun. This is not summer camp, after all. Sometimes it's challenging, sometimes there are hard days. These are kids, and they are works in progress. But because it's such a supportive environment, it's the kind of place where a child can learn how to tackle any obstacle head on and still feel safe.
Third, a great deal of thought goes into the curriculum at every level and because of this, every activity that the students engage in has a deeper meaning. The teachers make the work compelling, but at the end of the day it's all very purposeful, which is especially evident as the kids progress through the years. Each new skill builds on the one before it.
Even though my husband and I chose MMS because we felt it provided the right environment for our children, I should also mention that MMS has a welcoming, culturally diverse and creative parent community. We've made many wonderful friends at the school.
Bottom line: Highly recommend. MMS is a very special place.
I'm a new parent at MMS which came highly recommended by a family friend. Although it's early in the process for our child I have been very impressed with the teachers. My son came to the school very shy. I had serious concerns about dropping him off in the morning and the pending tears and recriminations but after only a few days he trots right into the class without so much of a backward glance. He tells me all about the work he did that day and seems to be making friends hand over fist. its so wonderful having a child that is EXCITED to go to school. Even this early in the year there have been several opportunities to get together with parents and faculty. The sense of community is incredible. After such a short time I feel like I have an entire support network ready made to guide us along. I don't have the same frame of reference as some of the parents who left negative reviews BUT I've found that the teachers are EXTREMELY concerned with the holistic well being of our child and I have zero doubts about their dedication.
Can’t recommend. Weeks into the school year, our son (who was a young three at the time) was pushed by MMS onto a hamster wheel of occupational therapy. The primary class coordinator seemed to have an invested interest in pathologizing our son, and we grew convinced that he might have sensory processing issues. Conferences focused on his supposed deficiencies: sensitivity to noise, weak pencil grip, difficulty choosing “work” from those on offer in the classroom. We were warned he’d need two years of Pre-K, before advancing to kindergarten. We didn’t know the boy they were describing!
Our decision to leave came after classroom observations (parents visit twice a year). Our observations, and those of other parents (and a child psychologist), revealed a boy bewildered by too many choices, who was left to flounder for up to thirty minutes (the observation period) without attention from his teachers. It was true he did not move easily between “works,” or activities (MMS avoids the word “play”). Our son and MMS were not a good fit. However, MMS deemed this a learning disability.
The school seeks children who fit their mold, period. There is little emphasis on socialization, and the program has no room for imaginative play. After observations, we stopped OT. We decided to trust our parental instincts (remembering we were dealing with a three-year-old, who was too young to be branded) and to trust in our son.
Since we left, one year ago, three moms of boys from my son’s former class, who are unhappy with the school and want to leave or are leaving, have contacted me. We had moved our son to a play-based preschool, where his wonderful classroom offered more structure and more freedom simultaneously. Our son blossomed in his new environment. Conferences were chances to celebrate his accomplishments. He just graduated from Pre-K, and is excited to begin kindergarten in the fall, at a terrific private K-12. So much for MMS naysayers (and those who say summer boys are at a disadvantage)!
In hindsight, we can’t believe it wasn’t clearer sooner that the only deficiency plaguing our son was MMS. We chose MMS because the classrooms, and the serenity therein, enchanted us. That serenity now seems spirit-crushing. If there is such a thing as educational malpractice, then MMS is guilty of it. Look elsewhere.
Is your 2 year old very well behaved? Does she listen to directions? Is she bright, motivated, self-directed and focused? Is she outgoing but knows when to be quiet? If the answer is yes to all of these questions then, by all means, apply. But if you suspect your child may not "fit the mold" in any way, I urge you to skip it and apply elsewhere. I've had two kids at the school for a total of six years, and we've had some wonderful teachers and experiences. The school community is strong and does not generally flaunt wealth, although it is there. My children and I have made some wonderful friends. But, at the end of the day, I cannot recommend the place. Even at age 3-4, the school values academics over social-emotional growth. Teachers and staff seem to lack a fundamental understanding of child development and an appreciation for a broad spectrum of personalities and learning styles. Within weeks of the beginning of a school year, they quickly identify children they believe to be problematic, and they send them off for occupational and speech therapy, social skills classes, even neuropsychological testing at very young ages. Children are reprimanded for the slightest of infractions. A typically energetic and impulsive child will find it almost impossible to meet the standard. An anxiety-prone child becomes a basket case. The school does have excellent placement into ongoing schools. But keep in mind that only a small number of children make it that far. Some move away or go to public school, but a fair number are either pushed out or leave because they cannot stand the constant criticism (as a parent you need THICK skin). I suspect they like it this way because they get rid of the kids they predict will not keep up with the rigorous curriculum in the upper elementary program. Unfortunately, at age 2, it's hard to know whether your child will be one of those or if they'll eventually be kicked to the curb. They don't tell you that there's a good chance your kid won't make it all the way, though. I really, really wanted an authentic Montessori education for my kids, but I wish I'd never heard of MMS. Maria Montessori said we should "believe in the child." Unfortunately, MMS only believes in a very small number of kids who fit their mold. Do yourself a favor and pass on by. There are so many wonderful schools in NYC.
I am very surprised by some of the negative reviews on this post. We have not had any negative experience with the school, its teachers, leaders, and staff. I can see that It is not a school for everyone. If you have a child who is self-motivated, values academics, and does not mind minimal sports (on school days), and if you would like to avoid a "preppy" culture prevalent at many of the private schools, then this is a wonderful school. Just look at the exmissions. Everyone in the graduating class got into a respectable on-going school. The school is small and therefore the onsite after-school programs are limited.