We love FCM! I believe the school is exceptional in so many ways: adherence to the Montessori philosophy; academic excellence; dedication of the faculty (most of whom have been there for many years - I think most lead teachers have been there at least 7 years); encouragement of independence, grace, and courtesy; enthusiasm for the outdoors; a close-knit community (events, community service projects, play dates, etc.); and how the children learn to resolve conflicts, problem-solve, and always find joy in what they are learning. My son has some behavioral challenges, but his teachers know him so well and guide him in the best way for who HE is and how he learns. They have discussed with us that he will move up to the next level when he s ready (academically, socially, etc.), which may be before or after other children his age. When we have struggled with parenting, his teachers have come up with innovative solutions to help, and the parent education classes have been wonderful! Their campus is older, but pretty, and we were excited to learn that they are building a new school and planning to be there in Fall 2015! Our family will be forever grateful for FCM. It is a beautiful place.
This plucky little school continues to try to do their best, but the facilities are limited. Though they will hopefully be moving to a new location in the future, their stated core values do not match the experience many children are given. It is unclear how the school "Follows the child" when learning differences and giftedness are not recognized. Program seems to be based on age rather than ability. Not what I expected of Montessori. The classroom and curriculum are not flexible in regards to the individual student.
The school strives to provide children with an environment capable of self-directed learning, and to foster the love of learning in children. The families reporting the greatest success, we have found, are those that take advantage of the enrichment activities designed to extend the Montessori education outside of the school and into the home. Is it perfect? Not really - they need more space. That said, it is very good at getting children to work on their own. There is very little homework, because the academic portion of the curriculum occurs at school, which is somewhat to the contrary of our public schools. Recent (in the last 2 years) staff and administrative changes corrected some problems, and of course, engendered others, typical of any organization going through a leadership change. That said, I have great faith in the teachers and classroom assistants, and we definitely have a "problem" child, the staff is infinitely patient and loves him notwithstanding his disruptive behavior, and they are helping him to become less disruptive, without the benefit of Prozac or Ritalin, which is the standard public school response..
My son was a student here as a toddler. We loved his teachers but the new head of school lacked empathy and understanding for children that didn't fit the mold perfectly. The staff retention rate is horrible which speaks volumes for the person in charge. It's overpriced and too exclusive for my liking. Part of growing up is learning how to handle adversity and deal with children from different backgrounds/ incomes. It's very elite here and all the children are expected to fit in the same cookie cutter mold and if you're child doesn't exactly follow the rules, he'll be kicked out along (which I have later found through other parents to be all too common). We have since moved out the area but are much happier in our new school.
I am completely confused how this school has only 3 stars. I guess everyone sees things differently. Our experience has been nothing but amazing and supportive. We are first time parents having our child go away for the first time. It was tough, for us, for him. The staff guided us every step of the way. Questions were answered immediately, communication was and always is flawless. Our son has taken giant steps since joining the school, the teachers handle him with the greatest care and understanding. A slow developer in speech/communication, he has truly flourished and grown in confidence under their guidance. The kind of people you want to know outside the school, teachers who greet you with smiles, know you by name, and truly know what they are doing. Is it cheap? No. Is it worth it? Yes. True of most things in life. Tons of support programs for parents and kids, vegetable gardens, outside the school field trips, real world education, small class size...Every day I drop my son off at the front door, I know everything will be ok, that he is not only safe, but that he will learn and experience things that will help him grow up to be an awesome human being.
Follow the Child Montessori (FCM) has exceeded our expectations, for sure. We moved from an out-of-state Montessori school, whose efforts paled in comparison to FCM's commitment to a true Montessori education. The fact that FCM strictly adheres to Montessori principles is a huge positive--as far as the negative reviews go, it just seems to me that those families probably need to find a non-Montessori school. Parental involvement and the support of parents is huge at FCM, but if you don't agree with the principles, then FCM is probably not a good fit. The administration and staff are committed to providing the best structured learning community for each individual student, and their expectations for behavior are appropriate (and a necessary part of an effective working environment.) We have been at the school for 2 years now, and I have the utmost respect for the entire operation. My children are nurtured and challenged each day, and we are fortunate to be a part of the FCM community.
How I wish I had montessori education myself. This is not a school with no limits where the children can do whatever they want. We learn to be a caring and responsible members. Each work has purposes. The instructions are done in group and individually. They are not easy work but it is set up to encourage success. If the child is not there yet then the teacher knows how to step back -- and that is a luxury at this school. The parents get as much or as little as they put their efforts in. Opportunity are limitless for parent education. The more parents understand, the better parents they will become. Before making any judgement, I encourage you to observe a class or two or three. The classrooms are beautiful, peaceful, organized and inviting. That's is how the learning mind should be. If you embrace what montessori and FCM offer for your child education, you should then be as consistent at home too. Good work takes time and you can ask for lessons. My child enjoys purposeful work. She is creative, independent and caring. There is no homework. We spend the rest of the day learning and doing things that encourage our learning - hopefully as purposeful as FCM offers.
We have had our son at FCM since he was a toddler and have been very pleased with the caring, warm, learning environment and the excellent support of parents. I have always felt that the school has had my son's best interests at heart and have set appropriate limits with him, as well as encouraged his attention and focus. I believe it takes a village to raise a child, and I'm so glad to have the staff, parents, and children of FCM as part of his and our village. The last two years of new leadership have exceeded my expectations! We are very happy with the 4 hours of Spanish instruction per week and the Chinese enrichment.
FCM is a place where families are valued. Teachers know your children and are willing to work with you to make sure your children are nurtured and challenged. There is a strong sense of community and purpose. The montessori quality is impressive. I chose this school for my children over others because of the dedicated staff, commitment to philosophy, and community of parents. Perhaps those with issues with the school have found a better fit for their children, family and educational expectations. We have found our place at FCM. The school is full and staff turnover has not been an issue for us for the past 7 years. Come check out the school and decide for yourself!
After four years there, we have moved our children to different schools. I agree with the other reviews here that the school is not inclusive and makes decisions based on "Montessori principles" that make no sense. This was true in cases involving our children, to their detriment. I would advise parents to look at other Montessori schools. One of our children is now at a different one, and doing very well and receiving much better instruction. Though many staff and faculty members at FCM are well intentioned and caring, the retention rate of both faculty and children speaks volumes. I wish we had moved out children to other schools earlier than we did.
Our mission is to inspire and support families to champion their children's education - at
school, at home and in their community. We are a national non-profit with offices and programs
in Oakland, Milwaukee, Washington D.C. and Indianapolis.