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After successfully enrolling our son in Transitional Kindergarten in Piedmont we will no longer be taking our spot at Growing Light Montessori in Oakland so they have a spot open in their Wizards PreK/K Class that I would like to help them fill.
Growing Light is a charming preschool and on all our visits we have been impressed with the warm, friendly, respectful and fun - yet calm - environment. The teachers and children all seem very engaged and happy to be there. Some part of every day is Spanish immersion which drew us to the school in the first place. The school campus is on the site of the Greek Orthodox church and is a lovely, large, well organized site. The Wizards class runs from 8.45am-3pm however they also offered extended care for parents needing full day care.
If you are still looking for a school this fall for your 4-6year old I strongly suggest visiting Growing Light Montessori.
I wanted to share the amazing experience that I had with Growing Light Montessori School of Kensington. All three of my children graduated from the program not only ready for elementary school but ready to be amazing citizens of the world. The way the teachers implement the Montessori Curriculum is very holistic and true to the philosophy. The kind teachers set examples for the children of how to treat others and solve problems in a powerful way. Many of the teachers have been teaching at the school for more than 10 years some even close to 20. My children learned the basics and were ahead of their peers. They weren't pressured, only inspired to learn and discover new ideas and concepts.
The best thing we got from the school was the community. My kids have all remained friends with their classmates from preschool. As a parent, I made great relationships too and I still see many of the other parents and even the teachers. We loved our experience and highly recommend this school to everyone. They have now added an early elementary program which is great for kids who are not able to attend Kindergarten due to the new age requirements. If you have any questions or want a tour just call Surya. 510-527-1278. She is wonderful . Margaret
I am a Mom of two girls ages 5 and 7. And our family has been with Growing Light Montessori School for over 5 yrs. I am happy to say that we have been and continue to be extremely grateful for their nurturing and skilled teaching environment. The administrators as well as the teachers are all keen communicators in keeping us informed on a daily basis. I find Growing light is a very diverse community where families become life long friends. My 7 yr. old still keeps in touch with her friends that she made in the toddler program. Both of my girls are enthusiastic about school with a love for learning that I credit to all the teachers here at Growing Light. I highly recommend Growing light Montessori School to whoever is looking for a perfect spot for their child. A Very Happy Parent
I was wondering if any current or recent parents could share their experience with Growing Light Montessori School in Oakland? I'm looking to start my toddler there just after he turns two. The teachers seemed loving and I liked the student-to-teacher ratio seemed very good. How has your young child settled? Do the children actually learn any Spanish (I saw all of the Spanish-speaking teachers speaking English)? How ''montessori'' is it and how are the academics--are children well-prepared for kindergarten by the time they leave (counting, reading, etc.)? Do you kids look forward to going to ''school'' most days? What do you like or dislike about the school? Soon-to-be mom of a preschooler
I am interested in hearing from parents whose children attend Growing Light Montessori. We are looking into local Montessoris and are considering Growing Light for our toddler. Thoughts? oakparent
The school has a great parent community, the kids all seem to thrive and learn, and it's all done in a very nurturing environment. Our son's social and academic development has been really amazing to watch over the last couple of years. If I could keep him there until he was 18 I would. Feel free to email me if you have more questions. leslie
I wanted to respond to a posting asking about Montessori Schools in the area. I used to teach at Montessori Schools and I am teaching First Grade in Oakland.
I am currently a parent of a 2.5 year old at Growing Light Montessori School in Oakland. I am well versed in all three campuses and have nothing but wonderful things to say about the staff, environment and heart of the place. GLMS is a community. You are not just buying into a school but a group of like minded people. GLMS is open and accepting. It is incredibly diverse and meets the needs of all learners.
They are rooted in caring and the school exudes a warmth that I am comfortable and impressed by. The teachers are Montessori trained, communicate well with parents and ensure that the children are safe, loved, happy and thriving. I work many hours and my son's teachers have helped make the transition easy for both myself and my son.
I'd highly recommend taking a tour and checking things out for yourself. Debra
I am looking for more recent comments on Growing Light Montessori in Kensington. The last posting was in 2009. anon
Re: Pre-K programs with shorter day
Growing Light Montessori school (with campuses in Oakland and Kensington) has a 1/2 day option. It is a wonderful Montessori with well trained teachers, and a warm, caring environment. Both my children went there, and we highly recommend it. A happy parent
Re: Year-round all day preschool in Berkeley/Albany
Check out Growing Light Montessori school, which is right on the Arlington, 5 min. away from Berkeley. It is a very established Montessori school with well trained teachers, a warm environment, and a good balance between academics and freedom. My children went to school there, and really blossomed. The school is year-round with extended care until 6pm. It is a wonderful place. Happy mom
Re: Looking 4 preschool for 4 yr twins w/kindergarten
Check out Growing Light Montessori, which has campuses in Kensington (10 min. drive from Berkeley, 5 min. from Albany), and in Oakland. The school goes from toddler classroom through kindergarten. There's no parent participation requirement. More over, it is an authentic Montessori school, a warm community with well trained staff members and teachers who have a remarkably low turn-over, and also, it has a low teacher/student ratio. My older daughter graduated from there last year, and the younger one is still happily thriving there. The school works wonders. Katrine
I wanted to post a glowing recommendation for Growing Light Montessori in Kensington. It is a fantastic place for children to learn, to grow and to explore. Our son is in the toddler program and has been since the beginning of September. He is thriving--learning all sorts of things and making wonderful new friends under the tutelage of two gifted, loving and talented teachers, Hannah and Jason. The director, Surya, is wonderful--hands-on, aware of happenings in all of the classrooms and always available with a kind word for children and parents. Our son was ill this week and came back to find a handwritten card from his class wishing him well. Contrast this to our cooperative preschool last year where, when he was hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery, we heard not even a single expression of concern or support from the teachers or director. Our son is an asthmatic and the staff at the school is on top of his condition--we really feel safe having him in their care. Enrichment activities and special programs are constantly offered, as is childcare during days that the campus is not normally in session. If there is a better place for a child to thrive, we haven't heard of it! Happy Parent
Re: Looking for a Small Size, Structured Preschool
I highly recommend Growing Light Montessori. My older child just graduated from there, and my second one is currently in its preschool. It is a very well run, authentic montessori school, stuctured though by no means rigid, with a developmentally approriate approach. The teachers are skilled, compassionate, intuitive, and appreciate each student's personality and learning style. Because of its low student/ teacher ratio (roughly 7 to 1), the children do receive individual attention. Please feel free to contact me with futher questions. katibet
Re: Preschools with Male Teachers
my daughter went to Growing Light Montessori in Kensington. there are two wonderful male teachers-- Jason in the toddler room & Nobu in the primary class. they are kind, fun, silly & gentle men who truly love children. there are also 2 male subs. Virginia
Re: Seeking preschool with working mom's hours!
Growing Light Preschool in Kensington has working parent hours. They also provide childcare (at an additional cost) during the school breaks. You noted that you are on the wait list for Via Nova. Just thought I would mention that VN closes for about 5 weeks out of the year (Christmas, Summer and Spring vacations) and DOES NOT provide any additional childcare. -working single mom
Re: Day camp for 5 year old
Check out Growing Light Montessori on Lincoln Ave (near the Mormon Temple). Summer camp is open to the public for kids as young as entering K (my daughter is also 5). Camp has different fun themes each week and swimming lessons are at Head Royce school each day for the first six weeks of camp. I don't know if there are still spots or not but it's a great place.
Re: Montessori Preschools in Kensington/El Cerrito
My son has attended GLMS for a year now, and his dad and I are really really happy with the school, but it depends on what you want. My son had a rough adjustment period and the admin took the time to meet with us multiple times and give us ideas on how to help the transition. I feel that more than just learning stuff, I really feel like my son is learning to be a good person. They talk a lot about respecting the environment, learning about other cultures, feelings, etc. I like the other parents. I don't find it snobby. I can't speak about Keystone since my son never went there, but I think the parents of children that attend there like it too. I think either would be a good choice. Happy GLMS parent
I am looking at Growing Light Montessori for the toddler program. When I toured, I did not see many toys or activities in the toddler room. I was wondering if someone could tell me about their experience there. I know there will be a new director -- will this be a positive change? Thank you
Re: Opening in any montessori preschool?
You might contact Growing Light Montessori. The school has had 2 campuses for years (Kensington and Oakland), and has just opened up a new campus in Lamorinda (Orinda I think). While the programs in Kensington and Oakland are probably full for 4 year olds, the Lamorinda location may have openings, since it is brand new (www.growinglight.net for more info). Our twins attend the two-year-old class in Kensington, and so far our family (kids and parents) have been very pleased with the school. Good luck! Best, Carolyn
I would like feedback on people's experience at Growing Light
Montessori in Kensington. Most of the feedback is either old or
about the GL campus in Oakland. I am thinking about applying
for my son who will be 3 in 2007.
Re: Preschools that value guidance and humor
You should check out Growing Light Montessori School on Lincoln
near Hwy 13. We chose it a few years ago for our then 2.5 year
old daughter because it has just what you're describing. The
preschool is calm and structured and somewhat ''academic'' while
being also a lot of fun and very oriented toward each kid's
needs. It's definately worth a tour.
was happy there for 3 years
I highly recommend Growing Light Montessori located at the Greek Church on Lincoln Ave. in Oakland. My 6 year old twins just started their 2nd year there, and I have been incredibly impressed with the care, attention and education that they've received--academic, social, emotional, physical, etc. The teachers are all phenomenal, and it's a wonderful, diverse and involved community. Unlike traditional montessori schools, GLMS has a 2-year old class, a 3-year old class, a 4-year old/pre-k class, a kindergarten, a first grade, and a lower elementary (2nd-4th). Although the classes are separated, there is a lot of opportunity for formal and informal interaction between children of different ages/grades. They currently have space in the Kindergarten, 1st grade and lower elementary classes. For more information,! contact the school at 336-9897. Also feel free to contact me with any questions. Amy
I noticed their ad in the last Schools newsletter and thought I would chip in with my 2 cents.
We transferred our then-3-year-old to their Kensington campus for preschool after discovering that the preschool he was in was physically abusing him (among other problems).
He loved Growing Light Montessori. They had wonderful toys which were also (of course) great learning tools; teachers who were loving, patient, creative, and attentive; really nice classroom layout; and a huge play area, with a separate smaller area for the younger children.
Connor was very happy there. Some of the things I remember most
* That there was always a teacher ready with some awesome art project or game in the mornings, as an alternative to just running around in the playground before school;
* That the teachers, and especially Maggie who is the director of that campus, were always willing to stop and talk to us parents about anything, and could do it while still being there for the kids;
* That they had really wonderful conflict resolution skills, and helped the children deal with their problems and come up with solutions without blaming or punishing anyone;
* That they had a good variety of very healthy snacks;
* That they were concerned with the quality of the children's food in general, with clear guidelines like ''no snacks that have sugar in the first three ingredients,'' and would tactfully bring it up with us if the lunches we sent were too small for him or weren't in line with the rules - they put the children's needs first rather than just kissing up to the adults as some schools do;
* That if our child had problems at school, they were eager to meet with us whenever was convenient to work out a mutual solution;
* That they had great, enriching activities in all areas and offered several extra activities like dance and Spanish for a fee that we could manage;
* That they were open to all suggestions and requests from the parents;
* That they had a really, really, really good school photographer who included candid shots of the children as well as a formal class photo, and black and white as well as color shots - his school photo from this year is still my favorite picture of him!;
* That they had a variety of community events throughout the year, like a ''celebrate your heritage'' potluck, that were interesting and exciting for the kids and let the families mingle and meet;
* That they have campuses in Oakland as well as Kensington;
* That they have after-school education so that (if necessary) a child can be in their supportive and loving environment from 8-6, and that they have excellent boundaries so that parents actually get their children by or before 6;
* That they were very willing to work with us when our finances shrank in the Great Dot-Com Bust -- we ended up doing a work-exchange for the fees and some of the tuition, and talked about scholarship possibilities for the future.
Personally, the thing I valued most about Growing Light is that when our child's emotional problems became too much for them, they were willing first to work with us to find a solution, and finally to honestly say that they did not have the resources to help him, and to recommend several therapeutic preschools that could better support his needs. They were willing to put our child's needs above their own and be totally clear about what problems they saw and what kind of attention and resources he needed.
I cannot think of a higher recommendation for a school than that, and I hope that someday he will be able to return to Growing Light and to Montessori education in general as an older and emotionally healthier elementary school student. And for his part, Connor has always rated Growing Light at the very top of the six schools he has attended in his short life, tied for first with Building Blocks (the wonderful therapeutic preschool he subsequently attended). Aidan
Re: Montessori schools Another good Montessori program is Growing Light Montessori. It has a Pre K/Kindergarten class at both of their locations - one of which is in Kensington. Their Kindergarten teacher, Deborah Carr, is the best! Call Maggie Scheving at 527-1278.
Hi, I am interested in the Oakland campus of Growing Light Montessori prescool. There are many recommendations about the Kennsington Campus but very few about the Oakland one. I'd like to hear anything positive or negative about it as we are trying to narrow down preschool options for next year that are near my workplace which is in the Dimond district.... Thank you, Renee
We found a fabulous pre-k program for our child at Growing Light in Oakland. It is a Montessori based school with a lot of developmental and other strengths. They now have a pre-k class and an ''expanded'' kindergarten that is roughly 4.9 to 6.0. The beauty is that the classroom structure allows for each child to progress and develop at their own natural pace. There is no template to either hold the child back or push them beyond their readiness. The focus is on the love of learning and deveolping the social and emotional tools that are so essential. The teachers are truly exceptional. It is not unusual for children to spend 2 years in the kindergarten class, without any stigma. I see a huge shift in my daughter, now 6 and in her second year with the kindergarten teacher. Having the extra year and the continuity with the teacher and classroom has made a real difference. Also, if you are on the fence about kindergarten readiness, with this kind of classroom you have the flexibility to later decide what is the best progression. There can be real growth spurts at this time and for some children, the ''readiness'' can really change between 5 and 6. If you are interested in learning more I recommend you call or visit the school and see if it is a fit for you and your child. A good pre-k year can be a great gift to your child. Growing Light is on Lincoln Ave. in Oakland. Feel free to email me directly if you would like. Claudia
What you are looking for can be found at Growing Light Montessori in Kensington.
GLM has a toddler program for 2-3 years old. My daughter is attending that class for her second year (she will be 3 in December). Jessica and Surya are both excellent, imaginative, caring, sweet, creative and smart teachers; Jessica has been with the school for several years. Maggie, the director, has been with the school for 7 years, has 2 toddler in class herself, and is very responsive to parents concerns. My daughter loves it, we love it, and recommend it warmly.
I know they have openings in the toddler class. The current fee is $960 month for a full day/5 days + material fees.
The school also has shorter days with pick up at 12.30pm and 3.00pm. Maggie phone is 510 527 1278 Silvia
We're looking for parents who can tell us about their children's experience at the Growing Light Montessori School. In particular we're interested in the Pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten program at the Kensington campus. (I think the teacher's name is Pam?) Recommendations on the website seem to date from 1998 and earlier, when the school was located in Berkeley; it now has spaces in Kensington and Oakland. I don't know how much the staff is the same, except that Maggie, who was a teacher at the time of the recommendations on the website, is now the director at Kensington site.
Also, if anyone has any insight or experience on how appropriate it would be for a 5-year-old to start in that program - or any new preschool program; he's a little behind many agemates in certain motor skills and we don't think he'll be quite ready for a large kindergarten setting. My concerns are: How difficult would it be for him to adjust to the school given that most of the other children in his class would be moving up from the 3-4 room? Is it a good decision to put him in a school where he'll probably only be able to stay for one year? (Commuting to the Oakland campus to continue in elementary school does not seem like an option to us at this point.) Thanks. Deborah
It has turned out to be a wonderful experience for my daughter. I feel like we gave her a gift by giving her this year. It has been great for her self esteem and confidence. Being the oldest in the class has helped her so much. She gets to feel proud of herself that she can do some things that the other kids are not able to do yet, and she actually helps the other children in learning some activities. She is not bored since it is a Montessori school and she can go at her own level.
The small class size is wonderful and consequently everyone plays together. Up until this year my daughter never played with a boy, but this year a couple of her best buddies are boys. It really is a sweet environment. The head teacher Pam knows her stuff, she has been a teacher for many, many years. Since the class size is so small she gets to know each child well, and works with their personalities to get the best out of each of them. I would highly recommend the Pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten classroom at Growing Light in Kensington! Good Luck in your decision!
My daughter, who is three and a half, started attending Growing Light Montessori School in July. So far I like it very much.
I like the general Montessori philosophy, but NOT in it's strictest form, e.g. in some schools learning materials are to be used ONLY in their "correct," prescribed Montessori way. Growing Light has the teachers PRESENT the materials in the "correct, prescribed" way but if the kids themselves come up with a new way to use the materials, that is considered fine and appropriate. As they say, after all, Dr. Montessori figured this stuff out by observing what actual children actually did ... paying attention to kids ... and that has great value.
In addition, G.L. has a very large fine playground with permanent structures (tree house, swings, wooden boat) and a garden ... some schools have only black tops with trikes and balls ... to me, very young children need a fair amount of outdoor time with good equipment as well as indoor time.
In addition, at G.L. snack is a communal activity where children are taught to serve each other food, and to say "yes please" or "no thank you" when offered food. My understanding of very traditional Montessori is that snack is entirely selfserve, complete with little signs, to teach premath (e..g "you may have TWO crackers and one-half cup juice.") My personal bias is that giving and accepting food in a gracious manner in a communal setting is a much more important skill for a young child than learning the concept of "one-half cup."
The learning materials are nicely presented, and grouped in areas, and children are taught to use one thing and put it away before moving on to the next thing. The preschool ages run from just 3 to 4 and 3/4s ... a typical Montessori strategy is to mix ages, which I also find quite helpful. Mary Carol
I wrote already about our experience with GLMS back in March (Digest March 7, 1998). Our first child (now a second grader at Windrush) spent 3 years at GLMS starting at age 2 (from 1993 until the summer of 1996). And last September we enrolled our second child, age 2, who is happily attending now the toddler class and she is there for the full day.
It a great school! From the staff, all very experienced and loving, to the enviroment, clean, large, colorful. They have a great playgroung and the kids have a lot of fun also playing outdoor.
Their interpretation of the Montessori method is the best I have seen so far. While following a certain structure, and emphasizing respect for others and indipendence, they also provide a fun environment and they are very good on helping kids to develop their social skills.
heir curriculum is very reach. They read a lot, kids experience math with fun material, they sing, perform drama, learn about animals, the rainforest...These are just a few examples of what they do. Our first kid has been very happy there. The little one seems very happy too and she very enthusiastic every morning about going to school (this evening, when I went to pick her up, she didn't want to leave the school).
This year they opened a second "branch" of the school in Kensington. The main teacher of the toddler class, Julie, and co-founder of GLMS, is the director of the new site, therefore she is at the Eunice site only in the morning. We are kind of disappointed, mainly because, Julie, who is a great teacher, was always there when our first kid was attending GLMS, and we would have liked to have the same pattern with the second one. On the other end, we like very much also the other teacher of the toddler class, George, who is a lot of fun for the kids and I think does a great job.
The main preschool teacher, Maggie, is very good too, and we also know her from being the teacher of our first child. The rest of the staff, helping with the morning activities, and mainly there in the afternoon, consists mostly of the same people we know from the past experience, and they are all very loving, caring and creative people.
This year they are clearly going through a period of adjustment due, I think, to the extra work with the additional site, and also because of some changes in the staff. But, in spite of some occasional difficulties, at the organizational level, they are doing their very best to keep their high standards in the care for the children as they always had.
I'm confident that our experience with GLSM for the next three years will be as great as it has been in the past.
My daughter (who will be 3 in July) is scheduled to start at Growing Light in June. I looked at a half-dozen schools, including 3 Montessori-based schools, and picked Growing Light for a few reasons. The staff seem well-trained, responsive, kind. I went once during "class time," so I could observe the kids ... including my daughter ... interacting with materials, but once at playground time so that I could see how the kids functioned in a less structured time. One of the things that impressed me was that on the playground the children often ran up to one of the teacher/co-directors (the one who happened to be on yard duty that day) to talk with her, get hugs, whatever. Administrators can make any kind of clever verbal presentations to other adults, but if you just sit quietly on the yard for an hour and WATCH ... well, no one can get kids who are 2, 3, 4 to fake running up and showing affection in an unstructured setting. Such affection and trust is *earned* by adults, and it is real.
The outside space is large so there is lots of room for exercise and outside imaginative play. Inside seems well-equipped with age-appropriate Montessori learning materials. One thing I *didn't* like about the Oakland Montessori School, which is much more traditional Montessori, is that snacks are all self-serve. I am a person who believes in the value of collective eating; at Growing Light, snacks are served to the kids and eaten all at the same time. There are also regular story-reading times which is not part of real strict Montessori ... so Growing Light is a more "modified" program.
They have a philosophy of being committed to diversity, both in terms of racial/ethnic backgrounds of kids and teachers, and also family-types: heterosexual couples, gay couples and single parents all have kids at Growing Light.
My first child spent 3 years at GLMS starting at age 2 (from 1993 until the summer of 1996).
Everything about that school is great! From the staff, all very experienced and loving, to the enviroment, clean, large, colorful. They have a great playgroung and kids have a lot of fun playing outside. Their interpretation of the Montessori method is the best I have seen so far. While following a certain structure, and emphasizing respect for others and indipendence, they also provide a fun environment and they are very good on helping kids to develop their social skills.
Their curriculum is very reach. They read a lot, kids experience math with fun material, they sing, perform drama, learn about animals, the rainforest...These are just a few examples of what they do. Kids are very happy there. My girl (now almost 7 year old - first grader at Windrush) still feels great affection for all the teachers of GLMS.
In fact, just recently we went to visit them again and found they have even improuved a few things (remodelled rooms and furniture). And the staff is unchanged which is great! We will enroll our second child (19 months old girl) for next fall when she'll be 2 years old. She will spend at least 3 years there, and I'm sure, as her big sister, she'll also have a wonderful time.
At GLMS, they have materials set up at bookcases at the child's height (another thing about Montessori - everything is at the child's level --not the adults!). Some examples might be matching objects (like a piece of plastic fruit to a piece of fruit painted on a piece of wood, for example), or fitting objects into like-shaped slots, and so on. The methods have changed as my daughter has gotten older. I guess critics of the method might see them as rigid, but I don't, precisely because I have noted that the children seem drawn to the activities naturally. I was rather surprised to come in to class when my daughter was about two, and watch her calmly and methodically begin an activity using the materials and work her way through it and then put everything back as she found it. (This was when she was not even able to sit still, so I was pretty impressed to see her so focused and careful.) A sort of bonus out of all this is that I have noticed my daughter has an incredible respect for books (she chastises me if I fold a bookmark into a book I am reading!) and other learning materials.
Music and art are also widely used as part of the curriculum at GLMS. Jim Beatty of "Ha Ha This Away" does music and movement classes once a week during school (for what I see as I small charge), and the classes do performances for parents 2-3 times a year. They have also had Jennifer Berezan come and do music classes (singing along to a guitar with fun songs) with the kids, and recently they did clay classes, also at what I would consider a reasonable fee. When the children get into the pre-school program, they have the option of doing swimming lessons through the city of Berkeley during the summer. It has really helped my daughter get over her fear of the water.
One thing I have noticed as a parent is that structure is very important to both of my children. I think that the Montessori learning method provides a structure the same way rules, love and consistency of behavior provide structure to a child's life. It offers security and consistency without forcing the child to become engaged by allowing them to engage in the learning activities THEY feel drawn to.
What I have seen at GLMS is a loving and encouraging atmosphere for children. Ultimate respect for the child seems to be the abiding philosophy. My daughter has really flourished there. At age five, she is upstairs in the K-3 class (merged), and is reading very well already and doing 2nd grade math. It is not my sense that this is because she is being hurried but rather because she is being allowed to follow her own cravings for learning. Of course, no situation is perfect, but we have always felt free to bring any concerns to the Director and have always been met with openness and respect. Sarah
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