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.
Our daughter has been at the school for five years and it has been perfect for her. She has grown into an independent, eager learner, social and artistic. The teachers know the students incredibly well, as the program combines grades such that a pair of teachers stays with each class for three years. Essentially every assignment is tailored for each student. I've never seen the like elsewhere. The school is academically focussed; don't send your child there if sports are paramount for you, and I don't know that they would know what to do with a student who has special needs. But for us it has been perfect.
A school that combines serious academics with a truly nurturing environment is rare. If you look at MMS's exmissions results it's obvious they turn out successful kids. But what has really impressed me is the nurturing side. We have 2 very different children and I have been amazed at how the school has really treated them as individuals and is bringing out the absolute best in both of them. One of our children has some learning needs and every teacher with whom she interacts (which is more than 10) have been involved with helping her succeed. Now over 7 years they just keep proving over and over again what an amazing gem they are.
HORRIFIC!!! School administration is more interested in a being certified as a "socially" relevant competitor to the education options of the elite than embracing of Montessori methods. Our family has a long standing appreciation for the Montessori method and was sadly disappointed with the reality that this school is all window dressing and no substance. Completely unprepared to address the unique strengths and challenges of children. Administration and support staff is beyond incompetent and disguises incompetence and limited credentials/training with arrogant advising to advise parents to seek outside services to assess and address children's needs -- on basic things. Appreciation of diversity is a complete joke -- very, very few minority children, black children are disproportionately diagnosed as ADHD and sent to the special needs learning center, especially male children. Run, very fast, away from this school.
Run away. This school will strip the joy of learning from your kids, environment is strict, kids drop like flies after K, your child will end up having only 8-10 kids of his grade in a mixed class. Passive-aggressive teachers and principals will let you know what is wrong with your child and how many tutors you should hire, when children are totally normal and thrive anywhere else. All the 5 star reviews were solicited by the school, beware. Save your money, consider a real school instead.