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Oakland Montessori School (Oakland, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > Oakland Montessori School (Oakland, CA)

May 2014

I agree with the description provided in the Sept 2012 posting. My eldest son graduated last year and my younger attends now. OMS seems to be getting better and better. The staff is a bit older and very experienced, all have Montessori certifications, and are all loving and supportive of the children. Teachers know your children very well and have great recommendations on how to support them in their development. Communication between teachers and parents have improved greatly over the past few years and they now how ''presentations'' every few months where teacher talk to parents about key topics (positive discipline, supporting different learning styles, technology in the home, etc.) and it's great for parents to connect and share parenting techniques and challenges. Kids are both challenged in very supportive ways and encouraged to be self-reliant and explore at thier own pace. The staff is professional and responsive when issues arise.

Another benefit to OMS that sets it apart is its huge outdoor space. With 2 active boys, we are grateful that there are tons of options for ourdoor games and exploration. We also love the field trips, veggie garden, family get-togethers.

We recently moved to Piedmont and looked at several other preschools near our new home - Montessori and others. Still decided to come back to OMS because of the great teachers, large outdoor space, divers activities, and great community. Very happy OMS mom

May 2013

The reviews for Oakland Montessori School are sparse and dated. We're considering sending our 3-year-old son and I want to make sure it'll be a good fit. Though I'm just familiarizing myself with Montessori principles, I think he'd do well with the classroom organization and structure as well as the freedom to choose activities. The outdoor space is a huge plus. My son is active! I'd love to hear about the teachers, director, and anything else noteworthy. Thanks! wanting the best for my son

As a former OMS parent, I have mixed feelings about the preschool. OMS might be the right fit for some children and families, but certainly not right for everyone. It certainly ended up not being the best place for us and my child is now much happier elsewhere.

OMS is not a warm and fuzzy place. Instead, teachers generally observe from a distance and students are expected to engage themselves. After some time, I decided that I was not thrilled with the 3-5 year old classroom as age-group cliques were small and tight, which left younger students without many same-age playmate options.

In retrospect, I'm not sure we got our money's worth, as the classroom component was only in the morning and the tuition ($1,530/month for 8:30-4:30), plus additional monthly costs (gymnastics, music, field trips are extra), was expensive compared to other comparable Montessori programs.

When we reported seeing an afterschool caretaker shove my daughter from behind, we were disappointed that the Director didn't consider our request that the caretaker stay an arm's length away from our child. Instead, she suggested confining my daughter to a certain area or withdrawing from the school. I was at a loss for words when this community we had embraced so suddenly made us feel completely unwelcome, so we took the opportunity and left. Former OMS parent

Feb 2013

Re: Oakland vs Rockridge vs Renaissance Montessori
Our child thrives at Oakland Montessori. When our 2 yr old outgrew his family day care (needing more space for play) we decided to take a look around and chose OMS- we loved the people, the facilities and diversity. Yes- diversity at a Montessori school! Tanya (the owner) is committed to having a school with families that represent Oakland's rich diverse community- most recently celebrating Chinese New Year with a parade and presentation during circle time. Teachers continually rotate activities that explore world culture and geography. For the toddler class, Wendy and Antonia are so great with the kids we missed them greatly when our little guy graduated to the preschool room. Caring and fun, they might text pictures or email videos that would put some light into my day. I could see how engaged my little guy was in music class or how silly he was being in the yard. And about the yard, not only does the school have an amazing play yard the space is truly made for the independence of small hands. Everywhere one might look is a smaller version hand tool or short railing or little toilets/sinks! The most important aspect of OMS is that my son loves going to OMS everyday and everyday he's picked up, he has a smile on his face! Happy OMS mom

Sept 2012

Re: Moving to Oakland in 2 weeks, need preschool ASAP
Take a look at Oakland Montessori School. They are not too a far from the Grand Lake area and I think they do have openings. I think they meet a lot of your needs. They have a beautiful classroom where the kids work in the mornings doing all different kinds of activities. The teachers have all been there forever and seem great at letting the kids explore the materials and guide them through their learning. There is a huge emphasis on outdoor play and the kids spend several hours outside each day. Their yard is really nice. They offer music, gymnastics, art and field trips. I like it because it seems like a very peaceful environment for children. I like the balance of the Montessori curriculum in the morning (and for another short period of the afternoon for the non-nappers) with lots of free play options. I think they are open between 7:30am-6pm with lots of options for your hours. I have a son who went there several years ago and my daughter is currently in her 2nd year there. I have been very happy with it! Oakland Montessori Mom

Feb 2008

I recently visited the Oakland Montessori School and liked their campus/facilities. I am wondering if people have feedback regarding their teaching staff and impressions of the teachers/program there? Also, specifically any feedback about their toddler program? Thanks!! Anon

Hi- Sorry for the late reply regarding OMS. My older son went there for 8 months last year and my younger one started last fall. There were issues last year and summer regarding communication, the leaving/dismisal of a popular teacher (that my first son had) and a few other things, and while I was a little nervous on how the school year would be for my newly entering child, I have been pleasantly happy.

Maria, the head teacher and Kathy, the other teacher for the Preschool program are really wonderful with my son and let me know what he is up to there. On communication: Whenever I need to talk about an issue, I always am able to with Maria, but I had 2 meetings missed by the director for legitimate reasons, but I wasn't notified beforehand...more annoying than mad, but I feel it was worse last year -things have definitely improved. I've also been thru another preschool and have lots of friends with children in various schools, and communication is always a huge issue, so it seems to not be one that stands out here by any means. The program offers variety (traditional montessori work, music, art, gymnastics, cooking, etc) and my son always emerges happy and talks about his friends and what he did for the day.

There was an uproar when art sessions were being evaluated - how much art based on how often your child attended, but I feel that the parents were able to speak up and a resolution that felt good to all of us was reached. When I mention my concerns, I do feel that I am listened to and that is always a good feeling. Our Parent Advisory Group is pretty strong and that has also helped shape what happens at the school.

It feels really good there for me and for other parents that I know - I'd recommend this school for sure (and I have to lots of friends)!

Good luck in your school choice. Happy at OMS

March 2007

Hi, I have read the various postings on the Oakland Montessori School, which seem to be mixed. I sense that parents have been generally happy with the teachers and the physical facility, but are frustrated with the Director. Can anyone provide any insight as to whether that situation has improved (or whether the negative posts are isolated cases that don't fairly reflect the school)? We're thinking of moving our 3-year old daughter there. Thanks in advance. em

My son is currently in his first year at Oakland Montessori, and we are very happy with the school. Most importantly, HE is happy at the school. We have had no problems with the director, Tanya. She is kind and clearly cares about the school and the kids. She is not as involved in the day to day activities as my sense is that diretors at other schools are. But this has not impacted us negatively. Our relationship is with the teachers, who are fabulous and have been consistently responsive and available to discuss our son and answer any questions we've had. The bottom line is that the school operates smoothly. My child is happy, safe and loved there. That says a lot to me about the director and the teachers. Very happy OMS parent
Our daughter has attended Oakland Montessori School since last spring. We are very pleased with the school, its teachers, assistant teachers and the facility --especially the new school building and the HUGE play yard. There has been recent upheaval at OMS because one of the teachers went on maternity leave and one of the two old buildings was torn down and a new building built over the summer/fall. Lots of change! However, my husband and I felt that the changes were communicated pretty well and that my daughter's experience didn't suffer at all. She is thriving there. That said, there have been issues (mostly communication style and frequency) involving the director. However, in the last few months, a parent's action group has been formed in order to facilitate communication (both ways). My husband and I attended one of the meetings and we think that the suggestions made coupled with renewed parent involvement will make all the difference. Currently, there is a monthly newsletter that details what's going on in each of the two classrooms (daily lessons, monthly themes, that sort of thing) and also the director has been getting much better about sending out e-mails to communicate in a more timely manner. The parents' group is working on making the web site a much more interactive tool, also.

Finally, I think that the most important thing is to go with what makes your child comfortable. Any minor irritation that my husband and I have felt hasn't ever bothered my daughter. She is thriving at OMS -- and that makes us happy! Good luck with your search! Happy OMS Parent

February 2005

I'm interested in current experiences with Oakland Montessori preschool. (last posts were in 2003) I've applied to the school and am very interested in the school for my son. Please give any good/bad feedback. How does the school handle special needs children? hopeful mom

The last posting I saw on Oakland Montessori pre-school was from 2002. Any recent comments--positive or negative? Thanks! Kerrie
Our daughter went to OMS for three years and is in kindergarten this year. OMS has some excellent teachers who have been there for a long time. My daughter had the same teachers for all three years. They take kids on great field trips, and the curiculum is really fun. When they were focused on geology at OMS, my daughter and her friends from school picked up rocks constantly and discussed them with great fervor. satisfied mother
My son is in his 2nd year at OMS and we have been very happy with it, for the most part. I like that it has all the pureness of Montessori in terms of the curriculum and energy, but is balanced with other enriching activities such as art, music, cultural and language exposures. The teachers are very warm and nurturing. Yes, those things are true that the posting said last week regarding the director being not very responsive, communicative or proactive with parents. However, that has not affected my child's experience there. He LOVES it. I feel that he has gotten great care, learning, and experiences. The head teacher on in the Fruitvale classroom is fabulous. There have been parent concerns this year because a beloved teacher left at the beginning of the year unexpectedly, and we were unhappy with the way the director handled it and communicated it, and with her process to hire a replacement. The replacement that is currently there is wonderful, but does not have Montessori experience; however, he is apparently planning on doing so. In my experience with the director, she is frustrating and a poor communicator en mass, but I have found that when she is much better to deal with one on one, personally, and has been flexible to meet my needs on a few occations. Also, again, I have not found these issues to impact the classroom, and my son loves it. To me, that is most important of all. content parent
December 2003

I just wanted to put in a few words for Oakland Montessori School on Fruitvale Avenue in the Diamond Neighborhood. My daughter is enjoying her second year of preschool there and my family and I have been extremely pleased with the atmosphere, curriculum and staff at the school. I am impressed by the warm, caring, home-like environment as well as all the fun, academic learning in addition to gymnastics, art, Spanish and music that fill the days. I have felt that the staff really share my values of good citizenship, good manners and learning conflict resolution at an early age. Additionally, there has been a fieldtrip with a cultural focus every month, parents have been encouraged and do come in and share their home cultural traditions and there are children representing a diversity of languages, cultures and races. The director's phone # is 482-3111. Her name is Tanya. Karen

My three-year old has been at Oakland Montessori School for the past year, and my older child spent almost a year there before starting kindergarten. It is a low-key Montessori preschool in the Dimond district with caring teachers and management and a lovely, large playground. There are two classrooms in separate buildings (former houses) on either side of the playground, and I think some of the older negative posts may have had to do with surprises about kids being in one classroom vs. another. So if you are interested in OMS, be specific about asking which classroom your child would be in. There is some overlap - e.g. one of the teachers does Spanish for both classes, plus field trips, after-school care, etc. They also have people come in for art and gymnastics (for an additional fee).

This is a pretty high-involvement preschool compared to others we have experienced. Parents are expected to ''volunteer'' 10 hours a year per child (they charge you if you don't), bring snack materials for the class two weeks per year, and provide your kid with diapers/changes of clothes and lunches. Volunteer opportunities include chaperoning the numerous field trips, helping with holiday celebrations, odd jobs, and an annual clean- up day. Lately they have started having evening get-togethers for parents and teachers as well. Field trips have included the Nutcracker, SF Symphony, Hall of Heath, Lawrence Hall of science, a farm, and the Oakland Zoo. Pretty ambitious and the parental involvement is what makes it possible.

I don't know how intensely rigorous the Montessori curriculum at OMS is (one classroom has 2 certified Montessori teachers, the other has one who is also a certified elementary teacher, plus an aide), but how intellectual do 3-5 year olds really get anyway? As in all Montessori schools, they learn about the solar system, holidays, numbers, the calendar, and weather. One of the teachers is from Guatemala so they have a unit on that country each year. They have free choice time each day, and the options include practical life work - pouring, cleaning up, etc; sensorial work - touching, tracing - and more traditional reading/writing stuff. I think Montessori emphasis on procedure is great for little kids - all those wooden puzzles do seem to help them learn organization. They do learn how to put things away! OMS parent

May 2003

The archives have only 2 comments about Oakland Montessori School, one about the now non-existent elementary school and one about the pre-school that is very negative. Do any other parents have experience with the school, either good or bad? I'm considering sending my daughter there in the fall. Thanks for your help! Molly G

Re: Oakland Montessori School. Our family was involved at OMS for a total of 11 years. Our first daughter attended from preschool through 4th grade and the second from pre kindergarten through the third grade. One is finishing her sophomore year in college and the second fininshing her freshman year in high school and both seem to be well adjusted, productive, sociable, academically competent (honor students when they got into schools with grades) and fun to be around. We think OMS was good for our kids. The other kids we met there and still associate with are also in good to great shape.

Education at OMS is personal,interest driven and flexible. One year a planned two week lesson about indigenous people was so interesting to the kids that it stretched out over most of the year because they kept bringing things in and discovering more of interest. It is Montessori based (supported by a prepared environment)with ongoing staff development. The Owner/director was educated in the Montessori system as a child so the fundamentals are deep rooted. Our kids were happy to go to school, busy when they were there, allowed to be themselves and developed healthfully. The older daughter spent a year primarily writing poetry when she was seven.

Montessori is hard on some parents becuse it is different from the compliance based education or teacher directed education so many are used to. After pre school many families moved their children to ''real schools''. We ended up leaving because, in both cases, there were no same age peers remaining. In spite of being ''unreal'' all the OMS graduates I know of have done very well in all kinds of other schools.

I would recommend interested persons visit the school and get a sense of how it feels as a fit for you and your child. While we were there every year was different because of that year's mix of children and faculty. Our kids met teachers, children and families from a variety of cultures, social backgrounds and attitudes. In all it was a rich experience to watch children become normalized, confident in themselves and devel tagjag

Jan 2002

Our son attended OMS last year (2000 - 20001) for kindergarten, and it was a great experience for all of us. Because of major miscommunications and foul-ups with our local public elementary school, we applied very late, and felt very lucky that OMS had room. Our appreciation for the school continued throughout the year, even though we discovered that two of the 23 elementary students had some behavior problems. The teachers dealt with the children well, intervened when students acted out, and discussed how bad behavior affected other students (both individually - with victim and perpetrator - and with the class as a group). I found that the teachers and the director were happy to address any concerns I brought to their attention. Our son thrived in the mixed grade format of the school. He loved the music lessons, and came home telling us all about jazz and Louis Armstrong. He loved the gymnastics, cooking, and art, as well as the "work." Our only disappointment was that OMS only goes through third grade. Since we knew that getting into other private schools after that would be difficult, we chose to enroll him elsewhere for this school year. Thanks for letting me put my two cents in. Sherry


My daughter attended this particular school (OMS) in the second and third grade. It's pretty small and the grades were combined. By the fourth grade, the number of students at that grade level was so small, it was time to move on. Also, if I remember correctly, OMS wasn't going to offer anything above third grade. She then transferred to Head Royce in the fourth grade. OMS did a great job in preparing her for Head Royce. My daughter is now 18, so some of my recollections are pretty vague. I know that in general, I was happy with the quality of teaching there. Another classmate from OMS was also admitted to Head Royce at the same time (there were only about five 3rd graders). Since Head Royce is pretty selective, I think it says something positive about the quality of teaching at OMS. Olga

My son attended Oakland Montessori School for nine months and I was very disappointed in the level of care and schooling he received there. On the first day of school the teacher, who we were told was going to teach the preschool level began walking to the other classroom. We asked, she responded that no, in fact she was not going to teach that class and that someone else (whom we had never met, never the less evaluated) was to teach the preschoolers. The head of school acted surprised that we would even care. Both my husband and I felt that we had been victimized by a bait-and-switch. A strong part of me wanted to pull my kid out of there but since we had signed a contract and my son had already made a friend on earlier visits, we let it ride. Big mistake. My son's teacher, though a nice person, was totally out of her depth and received no support from other staff. She never got control, and the year was spent trying to rein in the behavior of several unruly boys, which as it turned out, was violent at times. Other kids spent the year wandering around and not participating in the curriculum.

One day, when school was almost over for the year, my son was punched in the mouth before quiet time. He was told to lay down and rest. Nothing was said to the other kid. When he got up, his upper lip was shockingly swollen. The aide told him to go outside and play. Fortunately I happen to arrive fifteen minutes early for pick-up that day and found my son injured and only semiconscious. He was so out of it he could not form a simple sentence. Worst yet was the fact that several staff saw his condition and nobody even thought to give him first aid or to report to anyone else that an injury had occurred. My son received first aid only when I demanded that ice be brought immediately. When I told the director of the injury, I was told to take my kid to the doctor right away. Fortunately, his lip was only split on the inside and his teeth were not knocked loose.

Later I requested an interview with the director to discuss her first aid policies and how she trains her staff to deal with emergencies. I did not blame the kid, I don't think he meant to hurt my son, I think he was acting out things he had seen on TV. At the meeting the director refused to discuss any of her first aid policies or how she trains her staff, claiming that what she did was good enough and not any of my business. Present at the meeting was a head teacher who had not witnessed any of the preceding events. Both of them began to attack me, on a personal level. I was literally told that I was a "bad mother" and that I was totally over-reacting to the event. It was all I could do to stay focused on my agenda, school safely and staff training, and not start screaming back at them. Helen

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