“Our son loves it at Valley Montessori School, and is truly thriving! He has gone all the way through the Toddler program, and is now starting his 3rd year there, in Primary class.
We honestly did not know very much about the Montessori program when we first checked it out. But the more we learned about it, the more we liked. It is designed to instill confidence in its students, letting them explore and grow at their own pace, and preparing each child for a lifetime of learning. We learned much more just by seeing it for ourselves — after taking a tour of the school, meeting the teachers, and speaking with Admissions staff about the program, we were impressed. Throughout the process, they worked hard to help us better understand what the school is about, and to answer our many questions. It soon became clear that this was the right place for our son.
The overall philosophy of Valley Montessori is to foster a child’s innate curiosity, through the various well-structured activities (“works”) that the children perform. The children are able to gravitate toward things that spark their interest. Students gain confidence by mastering one concept before branching out, or exploring more advanced concepts. There are a wide variety of activities for children to work through, corresponding with different subjects. The works are creative, presenting concepts in a way that is playful, and that attracts the student. As the children become absorbed in these activities, they seem to be having so much fun, they hardly realize they are learning.
But most importantly, the teachers at this school are absolutely amazing people. Every one of them that we have met at the school comes across as very nurturing, intelligent, patient, and extremely well-trained. They are in tune with what the children are going through, and the level of care and attention they show toward each of the children is easy to see. This is a school that obviously cares about their teachers and staff, gives them time and resources to develop, sending them for regular workshops / training. They are true Montessorians, and it shows.
The school environment is very clean, well-laid-out, and welcoming, giving children the perfect setting in which to learn. If you get a chance to observe a classroom there, I would strongly suggest it. Each one is a peaceful little society, where children and teachers work together to maintain a harmonious and orderly place. This gives students a predictable and comfortable (and most often, amazingly quiet) space in which they can learn and grow. They are mixed-age classes, where the younger child gets a chance to learn from the older children in their class, while the older kids gain confidence reinforcing their own knowledge sharing what they have learned with younger classmates.
The school promotes and uses a Positive Discipline approach, resolving differences in a way that is respectful to the children. They even have classes for parents to learn how to better employ Positive Discipline techniques in the home. The children know what is expected of them at school (and at home, if you use it there), and they have the opportunity to share in problem-solving process, not just to have everything dictated to them.
The school’s list of accreditations is a detail that may be easy to overlook, but to me it is extremely impressive. They have worked to obtain full accreditation from the American Montessori Society (AMS), the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This is definitely NOT just a childcare facility that hung out a “Montessori” shingle, to attract more families. They truly care about the philosophy and the methods, which have been proven extremely effective.
Bottom line: if you want to teach your children how to LOVE learning, harness their natural curiosity, and really grow their knowledge (not just to shove facts into their brains in order to pass a test), then Valley Montessori is the place for you. We firmly believe that it has already been a life-changer for our son, as he has shown amazing advancement in the time he has been there. He is surrounded by wonderful and caring teachers, and (importantly, as an only child) has made many great friends to grow alongside. We plan to keep him at VMS throughout the entire program (up to Middle School), and we firmly believe it is the best school to help him reach his full potential.”
After many hours of discussion, a tour of the school with our children and a lengthy pro and con list, we decided to give it a try. Then, as I left my older two children at their classroom doors, it didn’t feel right. Where was the kindness and courtesy we were accustomed to? …. There was no sense of community.
We made it 3 days. We now make the commute, 30 minutes one way, each and every day. Happily. Now we know. Valley Montessori School is the right choice for us. It holds the values that we instill in our children each and every day in our own home. The teachers and staff are an extended family. They teach our children to love learning, to be creative, to think for themselves. Together, we are raising kind, thoughtful, and intelligent children who will succeed in life because they are in a loving and supportive community. Finding a community that you feel you belong to helps everything else in life fall into place. Without it, I think one feels idle, lost, and vulnerable.
My two older children have literally thanked us for making the sacrifice and doing the commute. They know it means putting my life on hold for awhile. I tell them it is worth it. We all realize how fortunate they are. How lucky we are to have found such a wonderful school.”
“We started at VMS when our son (now a senior in high school) was a toddler. In primary, he found his two best friends. They’ve been friends since they were 3 and 4 years old. One of our best moments as a parent was when these boys planned a trip to visit universities in Oregon together this summer. They planned the trip, drove together, stayed with another VMS alum, and visited the area and two universities. Their joy at planning their future and spending time together is one of the gifts we feel VMS has given us. VMS instilled independence in our children, but more importantly, the practice of the Montessori teachers opened our eyes and hearts as parents so we could give our son the room to exercise his independence. That guided growth is part of what we value most about VMS.
We trusted VMS so much that we had are daughter enrolled as an infant. She has been a part of the VMS community since she was 5 months old. She is now in eighth grade, and a bright, friendly, energetic young woman who is exploring visual arts, performing arts, and science as she matures. We have continued to appreciate the school with our daughter. However, there is no better illustration of the supportiveness of this school than how they responded after her unexpected diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes two weeks before her 7th grade school year began.
The staff made room in their busy back-to-school schedule to receive training in how to care for someone with Type 1 diabetes with almost no notice. Our diabetes nurse educator had to come from Oakland, and was very nervous about coming to the school fearing that only 1 or 2 staff members attended. She explained that she was lucky if most schools sent one staff member for training. We assured her there would be the minimum of 3 staff members she asked to attend.
Well, we were wrong. EVERY SINGLE TEACHER in middle school attended, all the specialists attended, support staff, even the principal and head of school attended diabetes training. We were moved to tears to experience the love and care this learning community has demonstrated to our daughter and our family. Our nurse educator was floored with the support of the school, and tells us every appointment how remarkable VMS is. Most importantly, our daughter has been able to participate fully in all school activities – including field trips and overnight trips – with no health or logistical difficulties. She is able to pursue her interests and satisfy her curiosity without the fear of health or social repercussions. There are no words to describe the trust and confidence we have in Valley Montessori School. It is more than the education, which is superlative, it is the loving kindness of this community that makes Valley Montessori School extraordinary”
“Best toddler program in the area. Both mine were in the full day toddler classes but they’re all great!”
“I’ve had quite a few Montessori students (elementary and middle school age groups) come to my studio for art lessons over the years. They have all been wonderful to teach…happy, motivated and independent workers! This is a great school and an asset for our community.”
“My daughter is attending the VMS Primary program now and started at 18 month in the all day toddler class. The teachers are fantastic! They have a great program that meets the need of each child. Our daughter is very outgoing and loves to give hugs. The teachers accept this with open arms, but they also know how to deal with toddlers that are a bit more apprehensive with leaving Mommy for a few hours. We found the facilities impressive and the attention to security reassuring. The toddler classes are in the center of the building with their own dedicated playground. The school also has a well thought out action plan for emergencies that we didn’t find at other daycare facilities. I know I’m a old school mother hen, but security of my only child is priority. Not only does our child get that here she gets the love and attention she needs to grow and learn. Having that reassurance that you’re leaving her in a safe environment with people that genuinely love and enjoy your child means everything.”
“I brought my son to VMS when he was just 17 months old. I had been working from home, and my little guy had really only ever been with relatives. I toured other places, but VMS was the one that felt right.
We knew we made the right decision after one of his teachers carried him around for the first few weeks, because he didn’t want to be put down. This showed what a commitment these teachers have to the children. They are truly amazing!
My son has really blossomed there in the past couple of years and we’ve met so many nice people. Nothing beats the community you feel at VMS. I’m so grateful we found it. Our little guy will be there through middle school, I just know it.”
The first part of the 3 day adventure was the required “cabin rules” (the naturalists wanted each cabin to set up rules to live by for their stay). I mistakenly thought I’d have to establish some simple ones to keep the 5 boys in my cabin from injuring themselves (or worst yet, keeping me up past midnight). I started off with “Okay guys, we need to establish our cabin rules.”
Those were the last words I got in the conversation. These “kids” quickly came up with rules (no horseplay, respect each other’s privacy, etc., etc., etc.). They completely were self governing. Not only that, they actually were policing themselves throughout the entire stay. I think I once had to remind everyone about their “one person per bunk” rule during the ever popular “laser tag” game we played with flashlights each night. Yep, my chaperone duties were pretty limited.
Even when there were problems or when kids were feeling sad or whatever, classmates always seem to come to help out without the need for adult intervention. One boy was very upset during a game of volleyball because he couldn’t hit it over the net. Dropping down and crying a little, a 5th grader came over to say “Don’t worry about it, I play volleyball a lot and I have lots of problems getting it over. Come on and play some more.” And yep, the kid stands up and joins back in and is having fun with his friends. No teacher interaction needed, it was just amazing to me how these kids can handle problem solving and even more so, how they solve group problems.
There was another school ending their stay as we began ours and you could see how much more polite, caring, and respectful VMS kids are. But interestingly enough as I was talking one morning with a few of the naturalists, the telling quote for me was “Well, we’ve had Montessori schools before and of course they’re really polite kids, but your kids are really smart.” And the tone and manner she used made it clear to me that she was not just saying it as a passing compliment. She went on to say that “…every question we threw at them they seem to already know the answer.”
During a campfire another naturalist said “I want to teach you all how to sing the ‘This Land is Your Land’ song using American Sign Language.” To which our kids say “Yea, we know that one.” She replies, “You know the sign language part?” “Yep” several kids shout back. “Well…okay…why don’t you show me.” And of course, they did. Obviously the next time VMS visits they’re going to have to come up with some things our kids don’t know.
The entire trip for me personally was on par with my experience 6 years ago doing The Journey and Discovery. I once again had to rethink how I deal with my son at home and allow for even more freedom and added responsibility for him, because he (and his classmates) can clearly handle it.”
“I’m so excited to witness what I believe is one of the major reasons Lewis is the sweet/smart little boy that everyone sees. We just had a friend’s 2 year old spend the day with us and Lewis was beyond anything that I expected to see. He would hand things to her and say “thank you” (as in trying to teach her to say thank you). He showed her how to play with his toys, told her to sit when she had to eat and even pushed her chair in when she was done.
It brought tears to my eyes and I know most of that behavior is due to the skills he is learning at VMS. Crazy to see how much he has learned in such a short amount of time! Thank you for choosing to spend your time with children and teaching them skills that they will carry forward in life. Thanks again!!”
Valley Montessori preschool is excellent. The teachers are loving and are very focused on the needs and growth of the students, and students are well cared for emotionally and physically. They are taught at their individual levels. I love the total environment and trust the teachers and school personnel to do what is best for my child.”
This school is amazing. In addition to small class sizes and lots of individualized attention, the curriculum is individualized as well. My son enjoys the other kids–bullying is no longer a problem and he never complains about having to go to school. His standardized tests scores indicate that he is above grade level in most subject areas and it is due to his education here because that was not the case elsewhere. You will not find more caring teachers.”
I continue to be thankful for Valley Montessori School. My son is thriving in Middle School, motivated to learn and excited to go to school every day. He couldn’t wait to get back to school this year! Apart from the fact that he is intellectually stimulated every day, he is learning life skills that are invaluable (both now and in the future). All of this does not happen by accident. Rather, the dedicated teachers and administration provide the cornerstone and community that make Valley Montessori School what it is! My son’s teachers partner with me and we are aligned on values, which provides an excellent foundation for my son’s learning and becoming a citizen of the world. We all know that the mutual respect for teacher and student is deeply ingrained in the Montessori method of teaching. Additionally, the methodology works with the student to understand where they are academically and how best each student learns. These, among others, are the gifts of an education at Valley Montessori School. Our teachers care about every student and work to motivate and intellectually stimulate all of our children based on their individual needs. So if another private school offered me a fully funded scholarship tomorrow, I wouldn’t take it. That is how committed I am to VMS and the gifts they have to offer. I see the impact of those gifts every day in my son and the benefits of his education here at Valley Montessori School.”