REVIEW OF Central Montessori Schools BY parent, Terry Smith
- Date of Review
December 10, 2021
Gr. Preschool - 6
(4.5) Student Experience
My kid started in this school (different campuses) when she was two. Now she is in grade 6. When she was little (casa, JK, SK), I could tell she had a lot of fun there. When I got to school to pick her up, sometimes she asked to stay a bit longer to play longer. She enjoyed singing, dancing and story time etc. Now she likes the small class and mixed Grade environment (Grade 1-3 in one class and grade 4-6 in another class). She had plenty of time with teachers thanks to the small class size. She likes that the school keeps them informed during weekly assembly. Due to COVID, they tried to keep distance between students. She wished the classroom was bigger, so that they could sit even further apart. She also hoped the outdoor playground was bigger. Notice classroom size/building size and the tuition fee can also be very different between different campuses.
(4.5) School Leadership
At the school level, there are weekly newsletters to keep parents informed. Each term, there is a parent's night, where school heads meet parents in person to formally explain what is happening at school. They also respond to emails/calls quickly too. Before COVID, it was also easy to just drop by offices. Sometimes school management also joined parents/teachers in one interview and did provide extra views/suggestions that helped us to help my kid to improve. Their COVID-19 response is very good too. Back early in 2020, even before the government had any rules, they had already taken steps to prevent possible transmission. Several months ago, they started to organize free lab tests for kids (optional). Recently, the school is offering free rapid test kits, so I can test my kid at home if I prefer.
Both my kid and I like the Montessori style, especially for younger people. It is nice to see teachers help kids to develop interest. She had many teachers since she had been there from toddler to Grade 6. Teachers are knowledgeable, caring students and like their job. Most of the time communication with parents is timely and effective. For sure, their small class size helped too. Their key teachers are stable. However, their music/sports teachers changed many times. The teachers taught based on students' feedback. Students have plenty of chances to ask questions. In general, the teacher-to-student ratio is high (good). During COVID, they are very flexible. They did surveys for online or in-person learning preferences a few times and allowed students to switch between them easily.
I can see my kid is indeed interested in reading, writing and math. I knew she was doing well at this school, but it was hard to compare with other schools until she took the CAT in Grade 3 and SSAT exam recently in Grade 6. In CAT, she got Reading 8, Writing 9, Math 9 (all on a Scale from 1 to 9), which is very good. She got 99% in the SSAT exam (Grade 6), which happily surprised me. Considering that we usually do not speak English with her at home (to help her to learn another language), I think CMS is the main reason she did so well in English. I was told that what they learn is about 1 year ahead of public schools, but I never compared myself. My kid did a lot of projects there like research about volcanoes and writing an essay about them. It is nice to see students can learn so much :-)
There are over 10 extracurriculars for students to choose from each term, including chess, Dance, Yoga, Taekwondo, computer, and foreign language, etc. Some are free and the majority of them charge a small fee. My kid joins 1 or 2 each term. She learned chess for many terms and I noticed her skill improved a lot. :-) It is nice to have those things done during school hours, so I do not have to drive my kid around for those during the weekends. I wish there were even more choices.
They have a house system, which encourages students to work with different grades. Some projects are assigned to a group of students that helps students work together. They organized Science Fairs each year before COVID. It was a good chance to meet and talk with other students. I can see most kids active and happy. I do not think they have a student council, likely due to their age. This school is only up to Grade 6. During Montessori week, I could sit in their classroom for about 1.5 hours. I could see students were helping each other. In the Science fairs, I was happy to see students showing off their projects such as something they built, research about natural events, history and language, etc. Sometimes two campuses host the events together, so the students could see many other students' work too.
(4.5) School Life
My kid is happy at school. When she was little, sometimes she asked to play there a litter longer when I picked her up, so I waited a bit more and watch her playing. She made several good friends there. I was really surprised to see at about 2 years old, she learned how to put on cloth themselves. CMS is also serious about nutrition. If you want to share a birthday cake with the class, no icing is allowed. They also balance this with what students like. They have pizza once a month. My kid told me the pizza made by the school chef was better than any commercial pizza store. Notice classroom size/building size and the tuition fee can also be very different between different campuses. In general, I wish they had bigger places, but I also understand the real estate price in Toronto is crazy.
I LOVE Montessori week. Before COVID, each year, I could schedule and go into the class for about 1.5 hours during that week, so I could see exactly what my kid, teachers and other students did in the class. I also took the chance to go to higher grade classes to see my kid's future teacher teaching. Concerts are also a very good chance to meet teachers, other parents, school staff informally and have a chat. They have at least a big one for each term, usually another one for French or by their music teacher. I am not aware that the school has an official organization like a parents association. Personally, I did not feel it is really required. Drop off and pick up kid time before COVID time was a good chance to chat with other parents and plan off school playdates.
(4) School Location
The campus my kid is studying now is very near Sheppard East, but not on Sheppard. This means it's convenient but at the same time not noisy and has better air quality. Before COVID days, sometimes they go to parks nearby. Not sure what will happen in the future. They do have a few locations and the building facilities at each location are different. Using Google street view to have look first is a good start :-)