Q: What is Valley Montessori School looking for in a student?
We provide an inspiring learning environment for students who are curious,bright, and eager to learn; who can function independently in a classroom and make respectful use of classroom materials in our prepared environment. We are also looking for students who interact respectfully with teachers and peers, who ask good questions, who are not afraid to make mistakes, and who learn from their mistakes. We seek to enroll a student population that is diverse across a broad spectrum including ethnicity, cultural, religious and economic differences.
Q: What does Valley Montessori School seek in prospective families?
We are looking for families that appreciate the Montessori approach and the guiding values of Valley Montessori. We value our partnership with parents and seek to establish mutually respectful relationships with our families. We also expect parents to willingly volunteer in support of the school and to make VMS their charitable giving priority while their children are enrolled with us.
Q: Will Valley Montessori School students succeed in high school, college and their adult lives?
Our goal is to assist students in becoming compassionate, bright, articulate, eager, hard-working people who will make an impact on the community and the world in which we live. The “real world” which our graduates will face is going to demand that they are independent, good problem identifiers, creative problem solvers, strong critical thinkers, articulate speakers and writers, skilled collaborators and passionate about the work they choose to do. Montessori education at VMS is uniquely organized to build these strengths and lead to these outcomes.
Q: What are the benefits of a multi-age class structure?
Curriculum in a multi-age setting provides many opportunities for older students to delve as far into a subject as they are able to, while younger students explore subjects at their own levels. Older students also “learn what they know” while gaining self-esteem in the role of mentor to the younger students. Indeed there is no better way to consolidate your learning of a subject than by helping another student understand. Returning to the same classroom for three years allows the teacher to know students really well and significantly shortens the amount of time it takes at the beginning of the year to get the class settled into a routine. Being the oldest student in a classroom also provides wonderful periodic occasions for practice in leadership, while in traditional schools these opportunities are only available in the final year at a school.
Younger children are intrigued and motivated by watching older children do more complicated work. Being in a multi-age classroom provides them with the double benefit of inspiration to challenge themselves and support from peer tutoring when older children help them. They also benefit from entering a classroom that is two-thirds enrolled with students who know the ropes and can lead the way.
Q: How does Valley Montessori School address the social and emotional needs of children?
Montessori philosophy includes a reverence for the spiritual side of children by recognizing and respecting the whole child, including an inner self, where issues of character, integrity, values and civic virtues reside and require nurturing. Lessons emerge from everyday interactions with fellow students and the world. Children learn to resolve their issues independently. If they need help, teachers are always available. All of the adults in the community model the respectful and kind behavior we expect from children.
Q: What is the ratio of teachers to students in the classroom?
VMS has always exceeded the ratio required by the State of California in our Early Childhood Programs and maintained a very low ratio in our elementary and middle school programs. Generally our toddler program has a 1:4 ratio and our preschool a 1:12 ratio. Elementary and Middle School have a 1:15 ratio not including specialists (Art, Music, Spanish and P.E.). Moreover, instructional groups are often much smaller. In this way, we are able to provide great one-on-one support for children.
Q: Do your students take standardized tests?
Our students take the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) annually beginning in their second year of elementary as part of the Practical Living Skills. While we do not teach to a test or prepare the students directly, the SAT provides a good measure of how all of our students are progressing relative to national norms. We are very proud of our SAT scores as our students typically score well above their grade levels, and by middle school many are scoring at “Post High School” levels. This occurs in Montessori classrooms, where the focus is on critical thinking, problem solving and research rather than on rote learning. The breadth of the curriculum clearly contributes indirectly to our high levels of performance.
Q: Are all Montessori schools alike?
Montessori is a philosophy and methodology of education, not a franchise. Each school operates independently and thus you will find a range of expressions in different schools. Valley Montessori School offers an authentic interpretation of the philosophy and is fully accredited by the American Montessori Society and the Western Association of School and College. We are also a provisional member of the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS).