REVIEW OF TMS BY parent, Alexandra Makos
- Date of Review
July 11, 2019
Gr. Nursery/Toddler - Preschool
(5) Student Experience
We have one child that recently completed the Toddler program, and who is moving on to Children's House this fall. She has always been very independent and we found that the Toddler program nurtured this by emphasizing uniqueness and confidence in her lifeskill development. Our daughter loves spending time engaging in individual activities that bring her a sense of pride, like baking bread. Every time she baked bread, we would share it as a family over our meal. This seemingly small gesture always provided us with an opportunity to have her tell us stories about her day at school. The sense of pride and joy baking has brought to her reinforces her independence, sense of order, and self-confidence. Our daughter also enjoys the social interaction with her classmates during her time in the gross motor room, and during circle time singing songs and playing instruments. The diversity of activities and interactions in the Toddler program have really captured her curiosity and continues to reinforce her positive experience at TMS.
(5) School Leadership
The leadership at the school is exceptional. As a TMS parent, TMS alumna and university professor, I truly appreciate this. The Head of School, David Young, is a charismatic individual with a grand vision of focusing further developing the "I Am Known" vision and on building three mindsets: resilience, entrepreneurial thinking, and positivity that integrate into the TMS curriculum. As students move through different levels of the school, they explore ways to build resilience through risk taking; they learn to rework ideas to improve them; and they do this through a lens of positivity. David and his leadership team each year continue to challenge themselves in striving for new successes. They greet you in the hallways daily and are always interested in engaging in discussions about school culture, academics, and parent involvement. The past 2 years, there has been a conversation series "Discussions with the Head of School" that welcomes parents to attend and express ideas/successes/challenges/opportunities regarding the various topics selected for these talks. They have been held before school (in the early morning) or after work (later in the evening) to accommodate work schedules of the parents. I have attended several of these and loved being able to have conversations both with the administration/leadership team and other parents. This really has been invaluable as you see David and his team incorporating feedback into the TMS experience. There are multiple streams of communication from the leadership that allows parents and families to stay updated. In instances where issues arise, the leadership are keen to clearly communicate with the TMS community. In issues that arise in the classroom as a result of injury, teachers follow ministry procedures to document and communicate the injury to us.
Research has shown that learning is as unique to an individual as their fingerprints, and the TMS teachers not only acknowledge this, but integrate it into their practice. TMS teachers nurture students’ abilities to be free-thinking, independent, passionate, and intrinsically motivated from such a young age. As a parent, I truly appreciate that my daughter is known – not just by her teachers, but by her classmates, the school leaders and other parents. The teachers at the school instils students with a deep sense of empathy, that encourages them to question and wonder, and to strive not just for success, but significance, which TMS defines as goodness and excellence. The teachers and classroom assistants that we have had are excellent communicators and make themselves available when I would like to discuss something. On many occasions the teachers have provided us with tips and tricks to help deal with all things that come with growing toddlers (which is quite an adventure!) from potty training to bedtime routines. I find that when you as a parent communicate with the teachers, it is really helpful because it provides a bridge between home and school. The teachers are so knowledgeable about child development and are aware of the sensitive development periods of their students. This is very evident when you see the growth of the students from starting in September to holiday break in December. When looking back from the end of the school year, it is even more astonishing to see how much the children have blossomed.
In the Toddler program, teachers encourage my daughter to be independent yet take the time to hug a friend who might be having a bad day. The Toddler and Children's House programs allow students to develop a solid foundation for academic success. As an educational researcher and I am hyper-aware of the breadth and types of learning experiences that are available to my children. I chose TMS because of their student-lead, exploratory, hands-on and collaborative play-based approach. The TMS academic environment allows my daughter to attain success at a rate that is appropriate to her development. It is by embracing the uniqueness of each child that TMS demonstrates its knowledge of learning and child development. One of the pillars of the Montessori pedagogy is the concept of Grace and Courtesy – children learn the social strategies they need to develop friendships, build relationships and learn how to collaborate with others. Each day I see evidence of this at TMS. The school structure ensures that new students gradually ease their way into their life at TMS, parents can stay and unobtrusively observe and there is always good information shared between teacher and parent. At its best, the journey TMS students take produces a young adult who desires more than mere success. But rather, imbued with habits of excellence, they desire to contribute, to impact, to engage, to serve. In short they desire to have significance. TMS believes strongly that significance lives at the intersection of goodness and excellence. This is in evidence from even the youngest students who are so open to learning, to graduates who find places in the world that balance their passions with doing good. As a parent, I see this in the way student support each other’s efforts. On a daily basis, I see evidence of children being encouraged to explore the unfamiliar, stand their ground, support a friend, lead a cause, pursue what fascinates and push through difficulty. The premise of this work is based on developing positive and joyful and engaging relationships that create connection and trust. When done well, these great relationships are the secret to unlocking the fullness of a child. They ensure a student feels the security to take a chance, try something new and embrace both the effort and joy of learning.
There are many extracurricular opportunities offered at the school that captures a range of interests - from language learning, to music, to sports (both group and individual). Extracurriculars at TMS provide students with another opportunity for social engagement and to explore their curiosities. Some extracurriculars have started as a result of interest expressed by a few students and has grown into a club or a team - this helps to support the development of an entrepreneurial mindset (one of the three mindsets - resilience and positivity being the other two) that the school is integrating into experiences for their students. Students are able to compete in various venues and the TMS student body has excelled at continuously challenging themselves and their performance in extracurricular activities.
Students feel a great sense of pride being a part of the TMS community. When you walk into the school at any point of the day you see and hear the positive energy of the students. Whether students are at the front desk picking up food for a birthday lunch, or taking prospective families on a school tour, the students light up when they are with each other. One of my favourite experiences was when we first came to TMS to take my daughter on a tour (she was only 16 months at the time). The grade 6 school ambassadors that lead the tour made a point of connecting with my daughter and showing her the various rooms and places she would get to explore once she started school there. These two students were so compassionate and welcoming during the tour that my daughter wanted to stay that afternoon. The pride and leadership of the ambassadors was memorable, and after being at the school for the past 2 years, I can see this spirit that fills the halls with each of the students.
(5) School Life
TMS is a school where great things are happening. Both my husband and I are proud to be from families of entrepreneurs, and there are few schools in Canada that I have found that nurture students’ abilities to be free-thinking, independent, passionate, and intrinsically motivated from such a young age. As a parent, I truly appreciate that my daughter is known – not just by her teachers, but by her classmates, the school leaders and other parents. My daughter loves coming to school every single day. She constantly reminds us in our morning routine that we need to "leave soon, so I can go to school and see my teachers and friends". To fall in love with the environment the way she has will set a tone for the rest of her academic life. Students are encouraged to thrive in the school community and the staff demonstrate that by being kind, caring and supportive. In 14 years from now when she graduates from Grade 12, I know she will be a young woman who has benefitted from a school community that has instilled in her a deep sense of empathy, that has encouraged her to question and wonder, and to strive not just for success, but significance, which TMS defines as goodness and excellence. She will achieve all of this because she is known.
Parent involvement in the TMS community has been top of mind for the Head of School and his administration. There are numerous engagement opportunities for parents at TMS and your family is welcomed with open arms. These opportunities for involvement range from supporting classroom events, to being classroom ambassadors (a point of contact for parents be reminded of information for family and classroom events), to being members of a large committee supporting fundraising events lead by the administrative team at the school. This past year I was a classroom ambassador (supported by the Advancement Team) and a member of the gala committee. When possible, I would volunteer at events throughout the year as well. I am very grateful to the school administration for offering various types of community engagement because it allows parents who are working or have different schedules to still be engaged in school life. My experience as a parent has been one of wanting to spend more time supporting the community and engaging with parents who are also involved in the school because it has been so flexible. At the end of the school year, all of the volunteers are invited to attend a breakfast (following student-drop off) to be thanked for the support we provided during the year.
(5) School Location
TMS Lower School campus is located at a convenient point that allows families residing in the GTA to bring their children here. It is a 1-minute drive from a major highway, which makes it easy to reach. There are many coffee shops and stores in the immediate vicinity for parents to gather at after dropping off their children to school. At the lower school, the students stay on the school property. The property itself is lush and well-manicured.