Toronto, ON | Grades NS - 6 | Shortlist
We've been with CMS since 2015, and we can tell that our kids enjoy going to school as they come back at the end of the day with such joy telling about the the experiments that they did or the projects they worked on that they are so proud of. There are a breadth of extracurricular activities offered at the school, could be learning a language, piano, Taekwando, dance, and Robotics are a few examples. The school is for children from infant to Gr 6 and there's usually more than 1 class for each grade. With this many kids there's a diverse school community and many friends made. Pre-covid the elementary grades would have specialist classes together (gym, music etc), which helped continue their friendships from the Casa years.
CMS has adapted to Covid pandemic school life very well this year. Along with PPE for the staff, the school has empowered/armed the teachers with the skills and tools needed to bring online the numerous Montessori materials as best they can for virtual learning. There are many materials in a Montessori classroom and this is no easy feat. In terms of communications, there are weekly school newsletters, parent-teacher interviews and if needed additional parent-teacher checkpoints can be arranged as needed. The administrators are knowledgeable and of course Ms. Fariba and Ms. Grisdale are there to discuss concerns you may have.
Most of the teachers our children have had, have been with CMS for many years. We have found them to be passionate, knowledgeable, and patient. With the mixed grade classes there is greater opportunity to learn from each other. The older children model behaviour, classroom etiquette and provide leadership. Pre-covid the older children played a much bigger role in assisting the younger children, especially the Gr 1 students. In elementary, when there is a lesson for the grade, the group is about one third of the class size allowing the teacher to be more attentive and provide more engaging lessons. With the smaller groups, the teachers are able to learn each child's learning style and adapt as needed. Not all children learn through the same modality and this environment and resources allows for this flexibility.
In pre-covid times, it could take quite a few minutes to make it out of the school with the kids saying numerous good byes to their friends and teachers. The elementary students belong to different coloured 'houses' and there are weekly activities led by the student house leaders for their houses to earn points. My kid tells me of the fun team activities they do. The events throughout the year, holiday concerts, spring concerts, graduation, and year end carnivals are events the bring the CMS student and parent community together. The annual book sale and bake sales are great events for the kids as the elementary students handle the cashbox and their teamwork and leadership are evident. The number of classes have tended to decrease as you get into upper elementary, but it seems to have provided for a tight knit group of friends.
My children enjoy the experiments, lessons, projects as well as the sports offered with their friends. Their gym program includes many different types of sports and games that help develop their teamwork and leadership skills. There's also the weekly house league sports (pre-covid) in elementary, where the children can choose to join a sport of their choice for the term; there's floor hockey, soccer, basektball, baseball etc. CMS' library room and computer room are also a great resource with the kids. In their computer classes, they are exposed to keyboarding lessons and coding games to develop their interest in computer literacy. Internet safety is also taught with use of educational videos and demonstrations, and reviewed with the children to promote safe use of the internet.
There are a breadth of extracurricular's offered from hip hop, ballet, learning piano, chess, learning a language or robotics. There's likely something of interest for your child, all offered at the school which is convenient. In the elementary years, the school participates in sporting events with other SSAFs. There's the Fun Run for all students, the Withrow Cup Run for selected students and various sports tournaments (soccer, basketball etc). In elementary, there's house league held after school where the children can choose a sport of their choice, floor hockey, soccer, baseball etc. Not all these sports can be experienced at a public school at this age.
We have met many parents over the years, and made some good friends. It's quite a large school community and have been able to happily arrange play dates with and without kids. There have been dinner's and Mom's nights out over the years. The parent community are generally quite involved, in the Casa years, quite a few parents would volunteer for field trips which are always an adventure. There's likely an opportunity for a parent council or some sort of parent body for more involvement with the school and to allow for more interactions between the parents. The school welcomes feedback from the parents in a normal year and even more so with the year we've had so far. They've been pretty good at addressing concerns.
Central Montessori at Leslie and York Mills is at a central location close to both the DVP and 401. Pre-covid when grandparents would attend the holiday concerts this location has been accessible. Many of the students and friends we've met live within a 15-20 mins drive from the school. Some have even been in our own neighbourhood, and often times we see a familiar face at recreational activities in our community (pre-covid).
CMS and the Montessori philosophy allow the children to develop and learn at their pace. They are exposed to many materials and curriculum early on, I recall my 3 year old working on phonics, and singing french songs. The curriculum is generally 1 year ahead of the public system, and there are math contests should your children wish to participate in them. The concepts are taught and explained in-depth and laid out in a logical way to provide for understanding of the concept. The practical life aspect of the curriculum was insightful as this was not what I had experienced as a child. After observing the Casa classroom during Montessori week, we adapted our kitchen such that the items they needed (cups moved to lower cabinets, milk placement in the fridge) were accessible and let their independence develop. This was applied to other areas of our home life and now that they are older, they might see a problem and take the initiative to tackle it themselves or would start a project in their free time researching the topic that sparks their interest.