- Why does WMS only offer a four- or five-day program for Early Childhood students?
- What about socialization in our community?
- Why is the multi-year cycle important in Montessori?
- How well prepared are students for their life beyond WMS?
- Where do students go when they graduate from WMS?
- How does economic diversity benefit my child at school?
- How does WMS support children with learning differences?
Why does WMS only offer a four-or five-day program for Early Childhood students?
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 must then spend time transitioning and guiding children in and out of the class, rather than giving lessons, observing and nurturing the developmental needs of his or 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.
What about socialization in our community?
We believe that our students develop superior social skills than they might in other environments for the following reasons:
- 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. This also helps prepare them for future transitions. 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 is essential to his or her success at school.
Why is the multi-year cycle important in Montessori?
We urge parents who are interested in our Toddler or Early Childhood programs to commit to having their child complete the program through kindergarten. Likewise, we hope families interested in our Elementary and Secondary Programs will commit to the full cycle. There are multiple reasons for this.
- 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 middle 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 is typical 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 them to a program where they must submit to constant teacher direction and a limited curriculum seems unfair to them.
- The multi-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 a student leaves mid-program, it is difficult to replace him or her 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 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 commit to complete the full cycle of the program in which you enroll your child. Committing to a multi-year cycle may be difficult, but the rewards are bountiful!
How well-prepared are students for their life beyond WMS?
Students generally make a very easy academic transition. It is fairly typical for motivated students to be tested and placed in advanced math and/or Spanish classes if they stayed here through elementary or secondary. 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 students find the social transition quite fun and exciting. The more introverted and anxious individuals find this transition, along with all others in their lives, somewhat stressful. Many alumni express a newfound appreciation for the learning climate and values of our school.
Where do students go when they graduate from WMS?
Though our school has operated since 1983, our Woodinville Montessori High School is new, with its first senior class set to graduate in 2017.
Before we expanded to offer 10th grade in 2014, students whose educations were founded at WMS had to complete high school elsewhere. Many went on to an array of universities and colleges. They include all the state institutions in Washington, Portland State University, Lewis and Clark College, Rice, Stanford, Harvard, Cornell, Swarthmore, Middlebury, Santa Clara, UC-Berkeley, UC-Santa Barbara, Chapman, Colorado College, Seattle Pacific, Carnegie Mellon, Vanderbilt, Whitman College, Olin College, University of Chicago, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology.
How does economic diversity benefit my child at school?
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 tuition assistance program to assist in achieving this goal.
How does WMS support children with learning differences?
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 how they may use them to overcome personal challenges.
The school’s goals are early diagnosis and intervention, and effective and consistent support for child, family and teacher. If 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. Outside testing and evaluation are frequently requested to determine what additional accommodations and support may be valuable.
Some students may require significant one-to-one or small group support in order to be successful. 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. 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.
If parents choose 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 needed help for their child, 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.