Both my daughters attended AMS through 8th grade. Some of our experience was wonderful. They are both comfortable speaking in front of large groups, they did not have excessive homework in elementary and the camping trips are impowering. Because we wanted to protect our children from popular culture garbage and lousy food, it was wonderful to be surrounded and supported by a like-minded community so my children weren't "weirdos". The down side is the math curriculum is weak and, more importantly, they have problems communicating with parents. My youngest daughter was not doing well and it was not communicated to us at all. We finally had her tested at the end of 6th grade and she has learning disabilities. We stayed with the school for 7th and 8th grades but that was a mistake. They could not seem to meet our daughter's needs and they didn't communicate when she was having difficulties. They just left her to struggle. She was depressed by the end of 8th grade and we decided to remove her from the school.
The only good quality this school has, is that it is aesthetically pleasing. Sadly, more thought is put into that, than any other aspect of a child's education. If your child is disruptive, and might be expelled from elsewhere, or you want to protect your child from grades, this is the school for you. The founder thinks of difficult children as learning material. Idealistic, and sad for the other children to have to put up with this. The teachers we experienced here, were not even competent in basic Math, although the Montessori manipulative material itself is brilliant. Don't confuse the 2 things, as many do. The teachers get away with it, because they're not held accountable. Most teachers here do not send a child's work home. If you ask for it, they make you feel guilty for not trusting them! This is not isolated, but routine here. They play down the end of year standardized test. No one is told a child's grades except parents. If a child does poorly, they blame the test itself. They routinely expertly bash traditional education. And that is how they sell themselves. This school is a severe over-reaction to the problems of public schooling. They misrepresent what they are about.
The Austin Montessori School should not be an accredited Montessori school. My daughter started her schooling at another Montessori in Austin for 3-6 year olds, and then she spent one year at Austin Montessori's Great Northern campus. What a disaster. She left her first school full of joy and confidence and both were dashed summarily by the teacher at the Great Northern campus. While the materials and methods the school employes are consistent with the Montessori approach, the teacher is the anti-thesis of the Montessori philosophy. Hateful, impatient, condescending to children and parents, punitive and clearly challenged personally, this teacher has been allowed to remain at the school for 16 years. I really wanted to keep my daughter in the Montessori program and transfer her to a different classroom at the main campus. The administration completely ignore my request and never responded to me. Basically the teacher tried to hold my child captive. Of course I removed my daughter from the school. If you want to witness the transformation of your spectacular child to one who is scared, timid, and lacking self-esteem and confidence, be sure to send him/her to this school.
Our child attended AMS for 3 years. The reality about this school is that it has very serious issues. First, there is a complete lack of effective administration. Teachers are left to do their own thing with very little supervision or guidance. Second, the environment is completely devoid of emotion. Many of the teachers are robotic. The classrooms are very sterile, very quiet, and very somber. Outside play time is kept to a minimum. Laughing or having fun is frowned upon. Third, the school's academics are questionable at best. After 3 years of AMS, our child was not prepared for public school, much less a private education. Fourth, the administration and teachers treat parents with disdain and egotism. They spend a lot of time lecturing parents (just attend any of their parent nights and you'll see this first-hand). Parent communication is basically non-existent. You cannot visit the school except when invited for two pre-arranged visits each year. I strongly caution anyone considering this school to think twice and to look elsewhere We wish we had.
This school sadly suffers from a severe lack of leadership. Its staff is a bane to parents and teachers alike. Most of the longtime teachers have left. Parents are treated with disdain. The school is full of itself and boasts continually, but it is empty of real value. Academics are an afterthought. Bullies are rarely kicked out or given any consequences, forcing victim after victim to leave the school to get relief. The founders proudly state that conditions like ADD & ADHD are not "real." Therefore, kids with these issues and dyslexia, autism, etc. are not identified and instead languish in the classroom, creating havoc for everyone. At most, they spend their days in the office, where they learn nothing. Parents are rarely informed if their kids have academic or behavioral problems. Most of my friends who have left the school have discovered huge holes in their kids' academics. This is a school where some of the 4th graders can't read. Parents can only visit the classroom for two prearranged half-hours per year. There is no parent community. There is no music program. There are no sports. The academics are awful. There is no reason to send a kid to this school.
We love this school! Our children have attended Austin Montessori for the past six years and we look forward to many more. Our children love learning and have made many wonderful friends. We have found the guides and administration to be very earnest and responsive to our questions and concerns. Though our children are very different in personality, each has thrived and I feel like the school has really nurtured their inquisitive natures while helping them develop their focus and sense of compassion for others. The school has also supported the children's development as members of a community (learning to work with others, resolve differences with respect/empathy, etc.). In addition, the parent education has been phenomenal and has helped us to be better parents in so many ways. I don't think you could find an environment that is more respectful of the child than at Austin Montessori. The school has helped in the development of our children as whole people (not just academically) and that has been an incredible process to watch and participate in.
My two boys have attended Austin Montessori for the past eight years and they are thriving! My only regret is that my older child missed out on the Youngest Children's Community as we moved here from out of state and he was already past that age. One is now in the Adolescent Community and one in Upper Elementary and I would literally spend my last penny to keep them there. They are amazing readers, strong in math, compassionate and work beautifully in a group. They're both self-motivated and pursue interests beyond the school setting (for example, the Early El child did a report on Russia and is now teaching himself Russian at home). I wish I could take credit, but I have to hand it to AMS. Thank you, staff and guides!
A friend's child attended this school for a year. If you like an authoritarian preschool, devoid of emotion, this is the place for your child. The school for the youngest children employs a "Trustee System" where the older kids police the younger kids. Civility is not a basic tenet of classroom instruction and the older kids enjoy their power a bit too much. Most distressing, disciplinary problems are not effectively addressed. Expressions of concern about your child's safety will be met with bland deflections by staff. My friend felt compelled to give her child a daily warning to stay away from one particular little boy. I can only surmise that children who grossly misbehave are allowed to remain enrolled, and terrorize other children, because their parents contribute a significant amount of money to the school, over and above the over-priced "tuition". My observation is that the overheated rhetoric about the Montessori Method is just a dog-and-pony show to get that high-priced, non-refundable tuition up front. It is for parents on visitation night, not for children in the classroom.
We were so excited when our daughter got into this school - what a disappointment! Perhaps it was once a better school, but the directors are near retirement and seem to spend their time jetting around the world lecturing on Montessori methods. Very young teachers are working virtually unsupervised, especially at the Great Northern location, which is clearly an afterthought, and not the heart of the school. Worst is the arrogance of the staff. The attitude seems to be that they know best for your child, and parents are not welcome (except at the endless meetings where we are lectured on Montessori philosophy). Combine that arrogance with a healthy dose of pretension and the lack of experience in the teaching staff and you a recipe for disaster. And then there's the total lack of physical activity (walking only in the "outdoor environment"), the 30 student classrooms, and the incredibly unfriendly parents. After trying to make it work for two years, we were so happy to get out.
AMS is school devoid of rules, resulting in the most embarrassingly self-important group of kids I've ever seen. Our child was severely bullied for months; faculty far more interested in giving longtime bullies additional chances than protecting kids being victimized. Kids are nasty and vulgar to each other and to teachers (oops, 'guides'), spitting and yelling at adults, refusing to be removed from the classroom, etc. Further, they DON'T ACTUALLY TEACH ANYTHING! The kids hang in a room full of books and microscopes, where they supposedly suck knowledge out of the air (which they don't - my high schooler has several ex-AMS classmates; she reports their most common way of solving problems is repeatedly guessing). AMS administers state standardized tests at the end of the year, but quietly files the results away (you have to proactively ask to see them). Why? Because they prove your kid's so far behind it's ridiculous. Faculty promises remediation; but you'll see reviews going back to 2008 describing the EXACT SAME PROBLEMS, so obviously there's no bite to their bark. If the above is good enough for you, save your $10k and send your kid to the public middle school on the corner.
Our daughter joined AMS's Youngest Children's Community last year. It has been amazing to watch her development. AMS is not just a school but a community. We have benefited from the experience of the AMI trained guide, from the parenting classes and seminars on Montissori philosophy offered by the school and from the support of other parents who are so passionate about the Montissori philosophy. We look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with Austin Montessori School.
My child has gone through the elementary and middle school programs at AMS, and I am sure he would not be half the person he is without that experience. Montessori claims to educate the 'whole child', and this school really delivers on that claim. They ask a lot of parents to learn their philosophy and parenting style (but give a lot of support, too), so be aware that it will be a challenging educational experience for the whole family if your family is anything like mine was when we started Montessori.
I think all parents would agree that no school is perfect. We have been at Austin Montessori for almost 9 years and I feel very lucky to be part of this special community. My three daughters are thriving personally, academically and most importantly they LOVE to learn!
Austin Montessori has been part of our lives for nearly 11 years now, and we are so grateful to have had such loving, caring & devoted teachers and administrators. The philosophy and curriculum have been a perfect fit. Thank you AMS for all of your dedication over the past years!
We have been in Austin Montessori for a while, and it is a great school. So much attention to every detail, such professionalism combined with a passion for educating and turning out brilliant, self-driven, mature, and compassionate citizens. Academically, the material/work is brilliant, the guides very involved. For a motivated child, the sky's the limit. And they educate parents on how to partner with the school to keep the children motivated about learning with frequent and fantastic parent education classes.
My daughter is in the Toddler Community at AMS and we are thrilled with her growth and independence. She is developing her own will and is highly supported in this process. We are excited for her begin Children's House in the Spring and know she will continue to grow and develop in a healthy, natural environment. As for the parents who said their children were behind.... thats a relative statement and, actually, Montessori children tend to learn long division by 6 years of age. Please remember it's the parents responsibility to be an advocate for their child and to know what is going on in their child's social and academic world. To blame administration is not productive. Every school has its challenges AND challenging families. Either the philosophy works for your family or it does not.... be involved and watch your child- know your child. You'll know what is right.
In 7 years at AMS, we saw both campuses, toddler thru elementary. We found many inconsistencies. AMS insinuates that families leave because they don t adhere to AMS culture. This is rarely true. Many love the culture, but leave because children fall behind academically, and/or because of bullying. Parents are rarely allowed in the classroom. Without homework, parents don t know where their children are academically. We pulled our child from elem. She was not getting any lessons. 11 other families left that class in less than 12 months, yet the abusive guide stayed 4 more months. AMS is on auto-pilot. AMS founders built a strong school but are almost retired. Some guides are outstanding, some are horrific. If a guide goes off the rails, there is little oversight. That said, overall we were very pleased. Our children learned to read & write by 5, and we loved the AMS community & culture.
All three of my children started at Austin Montessori School long before they turned two, and have thrived academically, socially, and emotionally. All of their Guides (Teachers) have been especially gifted at working with children wherever they are in their development. The variety and depth of work is truly amazing. They look forward to going to school each and every day.
I heartily agree with the the two reviews posted below. I am also in the process of tutoring my three boys who left Austin Montessori two years ago. Along with the academic issues, all three of them found the atmosphere stifling and depressing. I have been forced to take personal responsibility as a parent for subscribing to the Montessori philosophy while failing to acknowledge that my kids were unhappy.
I cannot recommend Austin Montessori School beyond kindergarten. While the school's philosophies work well in theory, they do not translate well into the real world. My child was bullied in the classroom for months, both physically and verbally, by another child and the administration was unwilling to intervene. Over the four years that my children were enrolled, I have seen many families remove their children from AMS in frustration with the administration's refusal to acknowledge chronic problems. However lovely the Montessori philosophy, children need to be safe from bullies to learn.
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