FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Why does WMS only offer a 4- or 5-day program for Early Childhood students?
- How easily do WMS students transition to other schools?
- What about socialization in a small school?
- When do students leave WMS?
- Where do students go when they leave WMS?
- How does economic diversity benefit my child at school?
- How does WMS support children with learning differences?
Two- and three-day programs are often attractive to parents who do not need full-time care; however, our five-day programs create the consistency that is so important to young children. Children at this age need that consistency both in their daily routine and in the opportunity to learn, explore, and grow. When children are coming and going on a variety of schedules, it not only impacts them as individuals but also the other children in the class. In addition, the teacher of such a class is required to spend a lot of time transitioning and guiding children in and out of the class rather than giving lessons, observing, and nurturing the developmental needs of her students. Since the primary goal of Montessori involves creating a culture of consistency, order, and empowerment, most authentic Montessori schools will expect children to attend five days a week.
Students generally make the academic transition very easily. It is fairly typical for motivated students to be tested and placed in advanced junior high math and/or Spanish classes if they stayed here through elementary or junior high. We hear rave reviews from their teachers about their grammar skills, writing ability, research skills, work habits and leadership qualities.
Personality plays a big role in the social transition. The more outgoing and adaptable find the social transition quite fun and exciting. The more introverted and anxious indiviuals find this transition, along with all others in their lives, somewhat stressful. Many alumni express a new found appreciation for the learning climate and values of our school as they encounter higher levels of rudeness, a general climate of disrespect, and the aggressive and hurtful behavior in other school settings.
- Great attention is paid to developing respect, strong personal values and conflict resolution skills.
- Children become strong and confident individuals over their years here because of their many achievements and successes, the respect paid to their individuality, and the encouragement they receive to make their own good choices.
We encourage our parents to involve their children in sports, scouting or other group activities outside of school to increase their exposure to diverse situations and people. We also caution that choosing an independent school means an additional commitment to get your child together with classmates outside of school. This takes extra time and energy but it is essential to his or her success at school.
Our wish is that parents interested in our Toddler or Early Childhood Program make a commitment to have their child complete the Early Childhood Program through kindergarten. Likewise, we hope families interested in our Elementary Program can make the commitment to complete all six years in that program. There are multiple reasons for this.
The first is that we think this works best for children. Children develop excellent independent work and organizational skills as a result of our classrooms structure. In a more conventional school setting, students don’t have the opportunity to use most of these skills until junior high or high school. Our curriculum also proceeds at a more accelerated pace in many areas covering some topics not generally introduced until children are older. Other topics are covered in greater depth than typically encountered in the conventional classroom. For this reason, children switching mid-program may find themselves both bored in their next program and challenged because they are on a different curriculum schedule. Finally, to expect children to learn to function with a high level of self-determination and personal control and then move to a program where they must submit to constant teacher direction and a limited curriculum seems unfair to them.
Another reason is that the three-year cycle at each level of Montessori offers very tangible benefits to the child whether as a member of the youngest, middle or leadership group in the class. Losing part of the class upsets the social balance and integrity of the program. If students leave mid-program it is difficult to replace them with a student who has had continuous Montessori experience. We cannot usually replace a Montessori child with another Montessori child.
In reality, people move from the area, change jobs, suffer a financial crisis and, rarely, they or we decide that this program is not the best one for their child. We expect and accept these realities. We do strongly recommend that you make a commitment to complete the three-year cycle of the program in which you enroll your child. We recommend that Junior High students whose chosen high school begins in 9th grade leave us after completing their 8th grade year, or after 9th grade if their high school begins at grade 10.
Our school has operated since 1983 and we now have a significant number of alumni who have completed their first university degrees, advanced degrees and are in the work world and/or raising families.
The graduates of our programs have successfully attended public junior high and high schools in most local districts. The majority of our Junior High graduates attending public high school have chosen the International Baccalaureate program or Honors and AP programs. Our students have also gone on to other independent schools including Overlake, Lakeside, Forest Ridge, University Prep, Evergreen School, Hillside School, Seattle Academy of the Arts and Sciences, and St Michaels in Victoria BC. Universities attended by WMS students include all the state institutions in Washington, Portland State, Lewis and Clark, Stanford, Harvard, Cornell, Swarthmore, Middlebury, Santa Clara, UC-Berkeley, UC-Santa Barbara, Chapman, Colorado College, Seattle Pacific, Carnegie Mellon, Vanderbilt, University of Rochester, the Rochester Institute of Technology to name a few.
Montessori education seeks to instill in children a sense of what it means to be "citizens of the world", to give them a global view, and to make them aware of what it means to work together as a community for the good of all. Maria Montessori believed that the true work of education is to create peace in the world. Social and economic diversity are of paramount importance if children are to experience a varied and culturally rich community. WMS has a financial aid program to assist in achieving this goal.
Our individually paced programs and multi-age classrooms allow us to support a wide range of ability and learning profiles at WMS. We recognize and value the diversity in “wiring” or neurobiology that exists in all of us. Teachers always aim to identify and capitalize on students’ personal strengths and to then determine how to utilize them to overcome personal challenges.
The school’s goals are always early diagnosis and intervention, and effective and consistent support for child, family and teacher. When teachers suspect developmental or learning challenges they refer students to the WMS Student Support Team. A period of observation and documentation follows, and a meeting is scheduled to discuss recommendations with parents. These may include accommodations in the classroom, support at home, and/or changes in the student’s schedule. Frequently outside testing and evaluation are requested. The school will provide referrals in such cases. The results of such testing are used to determine the accommodations and added support that are deemed to be necessary for student success.
Some students may require significant one-to-one or small group support for their success. In cases such as this, the school reserves the right to require that students receive the assistance they need and to charge fees for added expenses incurred by the school in the form of personal aides, extensive tutoring or supplemental curriculum materials. Situations where this might occur include Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, Autism Spectrum Disorders, anxiety, depression, social skills issues, undiagnosed learning disabilities and/or behavioral challenges.
Occasionally the school may determine that the evidence (testing, child’s experience, failure of accommodations to work, etc.) supports a referral to a different educational environment that may better suit the needs of a particular student.
Should parents elect to disregard the school’s request to seek recommended evaluations or fail to implement those recommendations, the school may decline to offer continued enrollment, both to move the family toward getting children the help they need for success, and to preserve the integrity of the program for the other students in the class. The annual tuition obligation must still be met in the latter situation.