Our daughter loved her first year at Ecole Montessori. She loved everything from the curriculum to the extra curricular activities to recess. What she loved about the curriculum was how she could progress at her own pace, in particular, she was able to learn well beyond grade one expectations. Having friends in the older grades pushed our daughter to keep up with her friends, all in a positive way. She was always encouraged to learn more if she had the interest and capability. When it came to extracurricular activities, our daughter loved the variety of activities (e.g. indoor soccer, African dance, karate). These are activities that you would rarely see in the public school system. Recess gave our daughter the opportunity to run around and expand her friendships. Overall, a great experience!
The school leadership/administration were fantastic about keeping in touch with parents with regular meetings, particularly during the lockdown periods. Meetings were held in group format along with lots of one-on-ones to gauge how our daughter was adapting to the online format. Parents were also kept abreast of upcoming events and homework through the school app. To my knowledge, there were few occasions that required administration to respond to problems. In terms of communicating with our daughter, her words were always encouraging.
The quality of the instruction was superb. Our daughter started the year off with a very basic level of French and in no time she was comprehending and conversing in the language. On top of that, she was learning every subject in French. Within each subject, our daughter learned well beyond our expectations and that's because of the enthusiasm that was brought to every lesson. Since our daughter was one of the youngest at the school, the teacher took our feedback to work with our daughter to develop her leadership skills. She did this through identifying her areas of strength and partnering her with classmates that could benefit from her strengths. This elevated our daughter's confidence which further pushed her to keep working her hardest at everything she did.
Extracurricular activities were plentiful, all things considered in a year of lockdowns. Either outside experts were brought into the school or short bus rides brought the kids to fun and interesting activities (e.g. indoor soccer, African dance, karate). While my daughter loved every day at school, she especially loved days that included extracurricular activities. From the conversations had with our daughter after these days, the instructors were enthusiastic about their activities.
If I could change one thing about the school it would be the size. While I want the number of students to be low overall to keep the amount of one-on-one time to be as high as possible, from the social aspect, this is where I would love to see the school grow. I feel another 10 students would be perfect but our daughter had no issue with the size. She made a couple of close friends and that's all that matters. The school has students between grades one and six and I loved hearing how grade levels did not dictate friendships as she would tell stories of how everyone played together at recess or during extracurricular activities. The older students looked out for the younger students.
The school is situated on a major road; however, the school yard is comfortably situated far enough from that road that it is not a concern. The school yard is nearly all pavement. A small patch of grass would be appreciated, but the students had no complaints. The students don't venture out into the neighbourhood, but rather take a bus to extracurricular activities as needed.
We initially considered attending the school as a means to be more careful in a year of global concern about the COVID virus, but also thought it would be a great way to immerse our daughter in the French language as it would be difficult for her to fly under the radar in the small classroom setting. Now a year later, with what appears to be an improvement in the pandemic, we can't imagine our daughter going anywhere else. We are so impressed with the amount of learning that our daughter experienced both in person and online and we look forward to another year of high academics and lots of fun extracurricular activities. For students that are interested, there are after school activities (e.g. knitting club, math, etc.).
All the parents I met over the past year were extremely friendly. It was not a normal year where it would be possible for parents to interact with one another much beyond crossing paths at drop off or pick up or while attending group meetings. With that said, parents were always positive. When asked, the administration would connect parents with one another. Parents were regularly asked to provide feedback, especially at times of lockdown. This was through group meetings as well as one-on-one meetings, which is significantly more than you would have access to teachers and administration in the public school system. I'm sure there will be more opportunities to interact with parents in the coming year and this will be encouraged by the administration.
Academics is an area where Ecole Montessori excels. We can't comment enough at the amount that our daughter has learned in every subject, which is well beyond what she would have learned in the public school system. Part of this additional learning is due to the Montessori environment where multiple grades are taught together so additional learning is natural. Also typical of the Montessori system is to allow students to learn at their own pace. These elements combined with a teacher that harnessed students to push beyond their comfort zone lead to a very successful year for our daughter where she was learning each subject at a different grade level based on her capabilities. Presentation skills were also practiced, which we feel are just as important as the academics.