Growing Light Montessori OaklandCommunity Subscriber
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If you are referring to Growing Light in Oakland, I can say that our daughter had a fantastic experience there. She graduated 6 years ago, so the information may not be current.
The staff and teachers were warm, lots of nice families. When she entered Kindergarten at one of the strong academic private schools, she was ready in every way.
We highly recommend it.
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I am wondering if any current or recent parents of Growing Light Montessori at the Oakland Campus have feedback to share. I am most interested in giving my daughter a safe and emotionally aware environment in which to socialize and develop a love of learning. It's not the academics but her social and emotional skills that I most want to foster at this point in her life. Have you noticed any emphasis or strengths in this area? What is your overall experience there? Do you have any concerns about the school or teachers? Thank you so much for your feedback! Growth Mindset Mama
My child was at Growing Light for a brief time. It wasn't a good fit for us on the social & emotional side of things. I think this would vary from kid to kid, but my little one was slow to warm up on the playground during the 30 minutes of recess and the 15 minutes of post-lunch playground time (we didn't do aftercare). I also had some issues with our particular teacher's approach to kindness and care of others (not hitting other children, for instance, was explained in terms of how much trouble you could conceivably get in, for example), but I can't imagine that all the teachers had this approach. The complete absence of imaginative and cooperative play was a huge problem for us, and was probably the biggest reason we left. We were only there for a couple of months, so I don't know if our experience will help you.
Wonderful school! Our son started GLMS when he was 2 years old, about 3 months ago and has been doing great there. I'm amazed by how independent he has become i.e always trying to put his own shoes/socks on, tries to dress himself etc. He adapted very quickly to the school and talks about his new friends and teachers incessantly. He is always bringing home new art projects and telling me about all the activities ''jobs'' he gets to do- including music time with various instruments, and soccer shots. The school has a very small and warm feel to it. I already feel like we are part of such a great community. Also- Great playground with a lot of outdoor times.
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 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
My son is in the Honeybees class class at Growing Light and absolutely adores his teachers. He loves school and looks forward to going almost everyday. As for Spanish he knows some really basic stuff like numbers, songs, colors, days of the week, etc. Email me directly if you have more questions.
Both of my sons attended Growing Light Montessori School in Oakland. My oldest is now thriving at a well regarded private school and my youngest is in the Lovebirds classroom. GLMS is the perfect combination of Montessori, with each child choosing their jobs and really diving into the learning at their own pace, and play. The teachers are absolutely wonderful, very warm, nurturing, and excellent at communicating with families regularly. I receive emails probably several times a month from my son's teacher and she is always happy to check in with me when I drop off in the mornings. My older son left GLMS writing, reading short books, and knowing simple addition as well as integers....incredibly well prepared for Kindergarten and most importantly, loving school. The curriculum and the Montessori method really builds on children's natural curiosity, and the multi-age classrooms not only allow children to challenge themselves with more advanced materials, but also lets them be the teachers for younger children, which has been a lovely benefit for my younger son. The office is organized and the administration has an open door policy and there is an active PTO at the school. In terms of Spanish, my kids both benefitted from their introduction to the language at GLMS and are able to converse with me and others but are not fluent. My older son has a gorgeous accent though, which was lovingly instilled by his preschool teachers. It is a special place, and I heartily recommend it. Mom of GLMS boys
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
Our son is about to start his third year at GLMS and we couldn't be happier with the place. The teachers are top-notch; very loving, attentive, imaginative. The school is administratively run very well, which makes life a little easier on the parents.
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
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: 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
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: 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: 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
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
The description of what you are looking for truly sounds like Growing Light Montessori School where my child has attended for about a year now. She loves it and we also want her to have the freedom to express herself in many ways. It is montessori but not strict- they bring in a lot of the teacher's own cultures, passions and desires of the children. It is warm, fun, engaging and developmentally appropriate. I know they have spaces in the toddler program for the summer/fall but the preschool/prek is pretty much filled up. Their website is www.growinglight.net and number is 336-9897x2 for admissions. They are off of Lincoln Ave (Fruitvale exit of 580) not far from Grand/Lake. Wendy
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
Growing Light is currently accepting applications for kindergarten through 4th grade, as well as preschool for ages 2- 5. This fabulous school, located on the site of the Greek church on Lincoln Ave., may be one of the best kept secrets in Oakland. The teachers are all extremely bright, creative, nurturing people who stimulate the children academically while encouraging and supporting their physical, social and emotional development. In addition to a rigorous, stimulating and integrated curriculum, starting in K, all children have physical education 2 times per week, and 1 or 2 enrichment classes such as music, art, gymnastics, etc. Each child also has an individualized work plan and is equally respected, encouraged and celebrated. The Kindergarten and elementary classes have monthly field trips that are educational and/or cultural. On a personal note, I have had the opportunity to go on most of the field trips with the K class this year and am continually impressed with how bright, well-behaved and respectful the children are. The school also has a wonderful sense of community with an incredibly committed director, numerous community activities planned throughout the year, and a newly formed and very active PTA. Finally, the director makes a concerted effort to keep the tuition among the lowest of private schools in the Bay area. In sum, I am, obviously, incredibly impressed with this school, which is in the process of expanding its elementary program. As a mom of 5 year old twins who started in the K class this year, I am happy to answer any questions. You can also call the school directly to ask questions or schedule a tour. The school's number is 336- 9897. Amy
Hi, I am interested in the Oakland campus of Growing Light Montessori preschool. 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
My 3 year old son goes to Growing Light in Oakland and we love it. The preschool teacher, Tew, is an amazing person and cares for each of the kids as if they were her own. She is very sensitive to the fact that each child is an individual and is always striving to find the right key to open them up. I am constantly amazed by things my son is learning and the projects she has them doing, from learning the continents to making soap. If you want more information, I would be happy to email or talk to you. Natalie
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
Our son is in first grade at Growing Light Montessori at the Oakland Lincoln campus. My husband and I are very pleased with the school. The teachers are first rate; they are caring, experienced, creative, and very in tune with their students. The school currently offers a preschool, a kindergarten class, and an elementary program. The elementary children work independently or in small groups with a concentration and focus that is impressive. The Oakland campus is establishing itself at the Lincoln site after moving from Berkeley. The school is relatively small but growing. At the moment, the elementary program is 1-3rd grade but the school plans to include a 4-6 class next year. The head of the school, Rachel LaField, does a great job of creating a wonderful and inclusive school community. Jean
Many Montessori schools don't take kids under 3. Growing Light does take them at 2. Our daughter just spent a year in the Toddler classroom, which she loved. I have raved about this school, and especially the teacher Jessica, on this forum before so you can check the archives, but my opinion got even stronger as the year progressed. It was a magical year for our daughter. She will be starting Berkeley Montessori next week, as it is much closer to our house and she would have been changing classrooms anyway, so I can let me know how that goes. Feel free to contact me offline about GLMS, and I could also give you some other names of parents to contact. nancy
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.
In answer to your question about Growing Light Montessori School, my daughter, Sofie, who is now almost 5 1/2, has been at GLMS since she was 20 months old. I did not know much about Montessori education before she was enrolled there (and it can certainly be argued that I still don't know that much about it!), but I did take a trip down to the public library to do some research. Unfortunately, Maria Montessori's writings have either been poorly translated, or her writing style is very dated. They were difficult to get through. I solved this problem by picking up a fairly recent overview book about Montessori education. This seemed to answer most of my questions. (I think it was called "The Essential Montessori", or something along those lines.) One of the main tenets of Montessori education is that it focuses on what Montessori termed children's "sensitive periods" for building learning in a sequential fashion. Montessori thought that the urge for learning in children is a strong one, and that it is more worthwhile to give children activities to do that help them to focus on whatever that urge is within a particular sensitive period than simply allowing children to play aimlessly. Therefore, the education process focuses on the use of what are referred to as "materials" for learning which children have available to them (they are not forced to use them), in order to stimulate them at their own level.
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
Hi folks! I'm new to the list too. I couldn't resist a daycare recommendation, as I really like where my soon to be 6 yr old son is. Growing Light Montessori is on Eunice Street in Berkeley and has kids from 18 mos to 3rd grade. My son has been there for 3 1/2 yrs now. They're open from 8 am to 6 pm and cost in the range of $600 to $650/month. It's a large, bright, cheerful place located in a church although it is not affiliated with the church. They emphasize diversity in ALL of its concepts. Last year they had an International Day potluck with parents bringing dishes from their native or ancestral countries (for those who had been in the US for several generations). The atmosphere of acceptance and care is almost tangible. They offer extras such as movement and music classes, sometimes sculpting classes, swim classes -- these are extra costs but are minimal and the kids love the special activites.