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Old 01-12-2009, 08:07 PM
27 posts, read 171,934 times
Reputation: 35


Hi Folks -

After much searching, we've decided to enroll our daughter in a Montessori school. She's currently in her second year of kindergarten in a public school. Public schools must consider biological age, which isn't relevant for her, due to her background spent in a third world country orphanage and then recovering from illness, neglect, etc., her physical size, development and personality. The services provided by public schools (IEP) have been ok, but the private services we pay for are really what helps, although we do appreciate the other. Her ESE teacher is great, but not the classroom teachers, and sadly, I'm finding so many that are not. Being a former teacher here with great passion for teaching, it's hard to see this happening. The budget cuts won't help--just squeeze the children into a tinier "box" (one size fits all), discourage the new, younger, enthusiastic teachers coming in, and overwhelm the current good ones.

OK, so now down to business. We visited Montessori Tides in Jax Beach, and my daughter was allowed to attend a day there to see if she would be a fit. It went fine and we were very impressed. They use a lot of sensory integration, and the environment is a wonderful fit for her personality and learning style. We're going to visit Axson this week, a public Montessori school -- don't know what to expect. I hope they would also let her attend for a day (or even an hour), but don't know how a public Montessori works. Haven't heard much about Discovery Montessori -- any feedback there or on any others I don't know about? We'd sort of like to stay in beaches/west beaches area, but the school is our main concern. We don't want to keep moving around, want to find the right school/area -- we're getting way too old to do that and my health doesn't tolerate it well. Any feedback, good or bad on Montessori schools is much appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 02-05-2009, 05:48 PM
7 posts, read 24,164 times
Reputation: 13
Just found you and this forum a bit ago, searching for the same information on schools in JAX area for same reason. I notice your last post dated 1/12/09. Wondering how it went w/ the visit to the 2nd Montessori school. Would love to know.
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Old 02-06-2009, 04:08 PM
27 posts, read 171,934 times
Reputation: 35
Default Montessori Schools

We enrolled our daughter at Montessor Tides at the Beach on Penman Road. We didn't check on Discovery (we live in the beaches area) because they did not take McKay scholarship. A few moms I talked with at a Christmas party had their kids in Montessori when they were younger and recommended Tides, so we figured it must be ok since they were in the same mind type thought (values, expectations, etc) of the school system. Other moms from public school said they had their kids there and loved it but couldn't afford it with the economic situation, so had to switch to public school. We checked out the magnet public Montessori, J. Allen Axson, and went on the open house tour with other parents. Very Great school, would love to have her there, but they are a magnet school so are on a "lottery system" and one doesn't know if they will be accepted until April or May, so we needed to get registered for next year in private before they filled up. After she's attended (another) montessori she'll be accepted and not in the "lottery situation." Liked the principal, guidance and asst. principals and staff there very much. One thing with montessori I've learned is that they don't take kids who haven't been in Montessori after 1st grade, as the transition is too hard. Also the kids have to sort of be "interviewed" -- my daughter was "interviewed - for lack of a better word by the director/teacher at Tides to see if she would be a fit. Then she was allowed to attend for a day to see how she liked it and would interact.

The children/classrooms are grouped according to levels -- beginning, primary and elementary (my daughter is almost 8 but is in primary, with ages 4-7). The children and teachers all work together to help each other. There are some very bright children and there are children who need extra help (just like the real world!!!) and to be "accepted" into a Montessori school, a child must have the personality to be willing to help others. They don't want kids that would be disruptive or whose personalities wouldn't fit, or have sever delays that they could not accommodate -- neither the school or the child would be happy in that case. There is a lot of parent involvement and also the idea of introducing things and letting children learn at their pace -- not trying to shove something down their throat in a way or at a time they are not ready for it. Learning independence, kindness, community, is stressed highly.

For most people it would probably seem strange or "cult - like " in a way. But as a former teacher I had subbed in a Montessori school years ago and had a friend whose child attended one, as well as a young cousin, so I was familiar. Also because my child had so many delays and needed therapies because of her birth issues (hence the reason she is not developmentally 8 although she will be biologically so next week -- and the public school system could not make allowances for that) we are very familiar with teaching methods that are "outside the box." I taught remedial in public and private here in Jax and had to always use methods "outside the box" due to the students' abiliity to learn differently. We were very familiar with the teaching methods using sensory integration at all levels (most people wouldn't notice it or would think it was strange, but I think all schools should teach with sensory integration in mind) and also sort of a whole brain learning system where an idea is presented and children can take their time with it or try different ways to approach it. Many activities are presented in a way that balance the brain, but one wouldn't notice it unless you have had to study this kind of thing due to personal experience. Having a brain injury, I would find these approaches very helpful for me. My daughter needs more time and a different approach in processing things, so it helps her a lot. I find it extremely interesting, very different, but very helpful for her. My young cousin, who is 36 now and a full professor teaching physics and mathematics at a major university (also writes screen plays for sci-fi films), also attended montessori years ago because he was very bright and "thought outside the box." He was also very caring and helpful toward others.

The first week was hard for her to get used to, as things are very organized, which helps children learn, and children help each other, as well as the children being allowed to an extent to "direct" their learning activities rather than the teacher. By the second week my daughter came home showing more independence and self confidence. It was nice to see. I didn't have to tell her to do things as soon as we got in the door -- she just went and did them.

It is very different -- in terms of the meals they serve or that one is allowed to bring -- low sugar, healthy foods, not allowing "character or inappropriate clothing" which I like because I can't stand to see clueless parents allow their children to dress like prostitutes or gang members so young. It's a much nicer world. Those into what I would consider age-inappropriate probably wouldn't like it. If you are into wearning dog chain collars around your neck, body piercings, and tatoos, it's probably not for you. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- we live in a free country, but I don't think it would be a fit for people with those interests.

The biological age thing would not have worked for us in the public school system, and the other private schools we checked out were not a good fit and didn't use a lot of sensory integration or "outside the box" learning activities -- more of a one size fits all, and restricted by bureaucratic rules and regulations. Also, although I am sure there are many good public schools and I know many good teachers, I was appalled at the caliber of most of the teachers at my daughter's school. The whole system of treating children who are 5 or 6 years old as if they are in high school was doesn't fit with the child development understanding that I believe in. Also, the physical environment -- molds, mildew, painting the school and classrooms with the children present and them breathing this nasty chemical paint -- teachers going home with migraines, children having asthma attacks -- why not just let them go to a bar where everyone is smoking and breathe smoke, or spray toxic chemicals in the school for months while our children are there -- same thing. I could not even enter the school it was so bad and neither could other parents. Something is wrong when we allow the public school system to do things like that to our children. When we complained they said the contractor had to do all the schools in one year so couldn't work on them on summer break. I said that with times being what they are, they should hire numerous contractors instead of putting out to bid for just one and let them split up the schools and get them done in the summer instead of exposing our kids to the chemicals and also the children having to leave the classroom for three days (while it's being painted) and sit and watch movies (weird ones) in the art room, not be allowed to use the library for weeks, etc. too much bureaucracy -- people are not thinking about doing things in the childrens' best interest, just following the rules of the "system."

Sorry -- went on so long. Just my take and my experience.

I think I got another response to privately email someone, but I don't know how, so excuse me to whoever I might not have gotten back to and sorry for my technological ignorance.
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Old 02-18-2010, 02:37 PM
Location: Miami Beach
8 posts, read 22,132 times
Reputation: 16
We tried Discovery & didn't like it at all. Discovery was too expensive (though that is exactly what some people like about it, kind of status-y along with progressive), one of their teachers was kind of mean & actually made my child cry, and I had a very hard time reaching them to discuss anything. We got into Axson & transferred asap.
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:38 PM
530 posts, read 1,158,002 times
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I have to take exception to that odd review of Discovery- particularly the "hard to reach" claim. I suppose "mean"is open to interpretation so I'll let the readers make their own judgement on that one. I had my oldest child in Discovery from pre-K through second grade and he flourished. I found the entire staff to be very caring and always very easy to reach( I just don't get that criticism as it is a very small school and reaching someone is always a phone call or just a walk in the office away) I will say that my younger child did not do as well in the same environment, but I think that is because of the Montessori, kind of learn at your own pace, thinking. It was not because of a lack of concern from the staff as all the teachers and staff where always caring. They also had excellent contacts in case you need extra attention for learning problems, many of whom would meet with your child during the day on campus. I know Discovery has recently expanded and added a computer lab, as well as other additions. They also have an excellent art teacher, who does a fantastic job incorporating art with general learning. I think you just have to visit each school and get a feel with what you are comfortable with, but Discovery should definitely be on your list.
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Old 02-18-2010, 08:18 PM
Location: Jacksonville, FL
3,530 posts, read 7,009,346 times
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very detailed information and its interesting!!!
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Old 02-19-2010, 03:07 PM
72 posts, read 390,984 times
Reputation: 60
A good friend of mine sends her child to Discovery & loves it. There is a Montessori school right by her home but she drives across the city specifically to go to Discovery. I know her child has absolutely flourished there.
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Old 02-21-2010, 08:47 PM
1 posts, read 4,007 times
Reputation: 10
Hello. My daughter is currently going to a public school on San Pablo and in 1st grade. We have a meeting for an interview at Tides. I want her to have some 1st grade experience even finishing out this year so HOPEFULLY she can get in at Axson this coming fall. For the lottery they said that as long as she is currently attending she can apply...so, this is the last week, this coming Friday is lasts day to get in lottery form. I have to attach a receipt for payment. I am hoping to get her in Tides THIS WEEK, even if she starts Friday. Then we are doing a summer montessori program at 1st Avenue Montessori and THEN hopefully get on at Axson. I hear it is easier to get in 1st or 2nd grade as the chances of getting into kindergarten is slim unless you are military or in the pre 3 or 4 class. Anyway....the thing is I am taking a chance pulling my daughter out with only 3 months left but if it will benefit her in the future it will be worth it. She is stuggling a bit socially in public school and after much montessori research and touring all the schools I know she will bloom in that learning environment. My son is currently going to VPK at 1st Avenue Montessori after being in a 'regular' VPK and has changed in only one week. Is there any way I can speak with your about this? If so my email address is sarkees2000@yahoo.com and I will email you my phone number.
When you put your daughter at Tides then because you had to reregister her in order to hold her spot did you ever put in to get at Axson and did you?? If I have to pay for her to go to Tides for another year I dont think I can afford it. Whats this scholarship you mentioned? Tides accepts scholarships? So happy to see your post and know that things worked our for you and your daughter.
My best
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Old 03-24-2010, 09:35 AM
Location: Miami Beach
8 posts, read 22,132 times
Reputation: 16
donisanasfan... no need to take exception to my post. I am relating my own experience, not yours. I think you can agree that not everyone has the same experience everywhere they go.

We really disliked this school. I found them to be disorganized and decidedly un-Montessori. For instance, I met with Dr. Lane as the director of the school upon application for admission. They didn't even TELL ME that the director was leaving and a brand new one being hired. I found out only after school started and they sent a welcome note to the new director. As everyone knows, the director of a private school is a very important component. You'd think they would mention they were changing directors in a few months during the application interview.

As for being hard to reach, sure it's a phone call away... to leave a message. It took me four days to reach someone about an incredibly important issue. I left messages with multiple people in the office & on the teacher's voicemail on her classroom phone & on the teacher's email. I received zero response during those four days. That is unacceptable. I really don't know how long the lack of response would have gone on. We withdrew after the fourth day came & went with no response from the school.

Then of course there was the teacher that yelled at my child on the first visit (right in front of me and several other parents) making the child cry and become afraid of school. I regret the day I walked into Discovery, but it being my first time as a parent enrolling their child in school, I did not see all the warning signs.

There were actually even more issues that transpired during my short involvement with that school. I just highlighted the dealbreakers for me. If this happened to another parent, they might not care who the director of the school is, might give the school a week to return their calls or think getting yelled at "toughens their kid up" and not see anything as an issue. Not me though.
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Old 03-24-2010, 08:02 PM
530 posts, read 1,158,002 times
Reputation: 191
I have to say I find your "experience" to be at best implausible. Something about it just doesnt ring true to me. I'll let others decide for themselves, but for example why would you enroll your child if you had such a traumatic experience on your first visit. I would think if that actually happened that it would give you second thoughts to say the least. Also, the classrooms are always so quiet that to see a teacher yelling at a potential new student, much less yelling at all, just rings very untrue. I'm sorry, but sometimes experiences just don't ring true, and unless you are mistaking Discovery for another school, this is one of those times.
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