Ocean View Montessori
El Cerrito, CA
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Re: Good preschool for my active 3.5 years old boy?
Please try Ocean View Montessori in El Cerrito. Our athletic active spirited yet sensitive son has thrived there and blossomed academically!!! It helps that it is a small school, it has been around for decades with the founder still very active in the school. There are multiple opportunities for the children to refresh themselves with outdoor activity balanced with academics and the development of social skills. Proud parent
Hi, We are strongly considering Ocean View Montessori in El Cerrito for our 3 yr old son, and all the reviews are at least 3 years old. I was hoping someone with more recent experience could give their opinion? Any thoughts, comments, experiences would be greatly appreciated! Thank you! Anon
Our son finished at Ocean View last year, and it was exactly the right program for him. Both Natalie and Aaron manage to create a structured and calm environment while at the same time building very loving and playful relationships with the kids-- which I think is really rare. They both are very skilled at individualizing activities and curriculum. Thanks to Ocean View, my son is thriving in kindergarten. We miss it! Good luck in your decision. Happy OVM Parent
Our son is in his first year at Ocean View, and we really like it there. The school was highly recommended by friends who have two years of experience with Ocean View.
Natalie and Aaron (who is Ronna's son, by the way) are fantastic, and so are the other teachers who are involved on a regular or substitute basis: Sarah, the art teacher; Ronna, who is still there frequently despite her retirement a few years back; etc.
I really feel that they genuinely care for my son and all the children in their care. They are exactly the sort of caregivers all of us strive to be: patient, gentle, kind, loving, and even-keeled -- all while remaining consistent and firm. They are really unflappable.
Negatives? Well, the school is very structured, but that's Montessori for you, and honestly, I appreciate that environment and feel it's a good transition from purely play-based daycare as well as being great preparation for kindergarten. Frankly, we don't provide nearly as much structure at home, and I think that our son benefits from his time in a more structured environment, especially when it's provided by adults who are so very nurturing and caring.
Three other things I'll mention:
- The academics are very strong, as you mentioned. I can't believe the things that my son comes home talking about. And his reading and writing progress is impressive (plus he LOVES it -- it's not a chore).
- The art and creative projects are abundant and awesome. He comes home everyday with the coolest art projects that he is soooo excited about.
- There is a good community feel at the school - opportunities for parent and family involvement, etc. But at the same time, I don't feel like we have to turn our entire lives over to the school community. It's a nice balance.
I recommend Ocean View and all its teachers without hesitation. Happy Ocean View Parent
I am a very critical person with very high standards for honesty, sensitivity, and love. Usually you'd expect me to end that sentence with emphasis on competitiveness and academic skills. All the kids at OVM are going to do quite well academically. We love our daughter very much, and I am so thankful that OVM is her school, because it is ideal. Yes, ideal. I have no negative criticism. The staff, as others have said, are phenomenal. I think it all flows from Ronna. Our son went to two other local preschools, one of which was deceitful and unsafe, and the other of which was tolerable but essentially day care. OVM is ideal.
I'd like to post a response to the June 2005 question about Oceanview Montessori:
During my visits to kindergartens, I met a few other parents and I asked if they considered Oceanview. They said they didn't because of the negative post and no other school has a negative post. I wanted to either ask you to consider taking that post down as I had experience with that particular situation and it was very much an aberation due to family/personalities extenuating circumstances. Or i'd like to find a way to post to the historical discussion and talk to directly to prospective parents. My post would be:
"First off, let me say that we have had our son at Oceanview for three years and love it. Our younger son will go next year as well. Siblings are totally the norm there. Ronna and her teachers are unbelievable at reading children and helping them individually grow into secure young kids. I've talked with a few teachers at k-5 schools for my older son and they all comment on what great kids Oceanview students are. The other reason I'm posting is that I met a few prospective parents on my kindergarden visits with my oldest son. When I asked if they considered Oceanview for their younger children, they said they did initially, but then read a negative comment here and decided against it because no other preschool had a negative comment. I was saddened to hear that this unfortunate experience stopped people from seeing for themselves and getting a real feel for the place. So, I'm writing to give my stamp of approval and to encourage you to visit. Talk about your concerns with Ronna. If my experience is any indicator (my son is very sensitive and cried everyday for the first year at drop off but now is very confident and self reliant) I think the growth potential for your child is huge.
I'm looking to place my child in Ocean View Montessori. Can anyone share their experiences with the head teacher and the two assistant teachers? How does the school's philosophy and environment compare to other Montessori preschools in North Berkeley and El Cerrito? Any advice about how to work with the teachers? The most recent posting on this site was three years ago. Parent of Prospective Student
I am a current parent at Oceanview Montessori. I have my middle son there for his second year and had my older son there for 3 years previously. It is a wonderful place! I cannot say enough kind things about the head teacher, Ronna Brodsley as well as her staff. I have not experienced any of the other Montessori schools in the area, but know a good bit about Montessori myself because my sister is a Montessori teacher in another state. Ronna has many many years of Montessori training and experience. Her other teacher is also Montessori trained. They believe in teaching t! o each child's strengths and cultivating their interests. I would say that it is a very loving, and somewhat structured environment. The kids learn a good deal about how to treat the teachers and each other with respect and care. All of the kids I've seen that graduate from OVM are extremely ready for kindergarten. The teachers have a way of making ''work time'' fun. The kids love it and gain academic skills almost without realizing it. At the same time, they are proud of themselves. The school also fosters a child's independence - they gradually teach the children to do many daily life tasks for themselves. I am a very satisfied parent. I cannot imagine my kids going anywhere else! Laura
I find the phrasing of your question interesting in asking about the best way to work with the teachers - as this is key at this school. It was hard for me to figure out how to work with teachers. I am the statistical skew here -- I have three good friends who have now placed their second children at the school and have found it absolutely ideal. Here is my take on it: The teachers are very good with kids, and wow--do those kids advance - all reading, writing, and doing math early - so if this is important to you, Oceanview could be ideal. However, what I didn't like was feedback from teachers about my parenting techniques.
Some people appreciate the feedback, for others it is very stressful to feel your teacher is judging you as a parent rather than just trying to be a partner in nurturing your kid. It was incredibly eye opening for me to go to another school where they were able to structure the school environment so the child thrives while in their care. Moving to a new school made both my child and I much more relaxed and my child is thriving immeasurably better in the new environment.
My main advice would be, make sure you feel in sync and compatible with the teachers and their approaches - and everything will probably be fine. Anon
I had posted last week about this amazing school, but wanted to respond briefly to another poster's negative comments. It saddens me to see a truly wonderful and happy place maligned. I also want to acknowledge that even the best school will not work for every child or every family. I have had children at Oceanview Montessori nearly continuously over the past 6 years, so I know the place well. I have seen many, many children and their families do incredibly well there. It is a very sweet and loving community of people. I will say, however, in my six years of experience with the school, there were a couple of situations that were handled extremely sensitively by the staff over a long and patient process. In both cases,a child was behaving in a disturbing and aggressive way toward the other children and the paren! ts were unwilling to acknowledge or help correct the situation. So while I can have empathy that there may be a few outlier examples of people whose experience was not particularly positive, I know that the vast majority of families have a wonderful experience at OVM. In addition, while academics from a Montessori perspective are taught there, academics are by no means the primary focus. The staff at OVM really look to develop the whole child: cognitively, socially and in other important areas of development. The children who graduate from the school are well-behaved, respectful and interact well with others - all gifts that serve them well in kindergarten and beyond. It is a remarkable place and I'm looking forward to having my third and youngest child attend there next year. Laura
I feel compelled to write in response to a negative review about Oceanview Montessori (OVM) that was written recently. I can honestly say that my husband and I have been extraordinarily happy with our daughter's two years at OVM. When we were looking for a school for our youngest daughter we looked for a nuturing, emotionally and physically safe, and structured environment that provided academic opportunities but focused on social development and play. In addition to these basic needs, we needed a place where our daughter could get special monitoring and guidance when needed due to her mild cerebral palsy. We have found all of these things and more at OVM.
The director and teachers have been observant and concerned about our daughter's progress. They've been willing to share their opinions while being respectful of ours. We have! felt like we have been working together for our daughter's benefit. The teachers' experience and Montessori training allow them to provide an amazing environment for the children. Younger kids learn from the older kids, classroom works are changed at the right intervals so the kids stay interested, and the activities (field trips, holiday celebrations, etc.) are just right - enough festivity without overloading the kids. We can't imagine a better place to have been during the last two years, and moving on to kindergarten is bittersweet. Julie
Has anyone had any experience with Oceanview Montessori in El Cerrito?
Our son has attended Ocean View preschool for three years and we are very pleased with the director of the school and the program. Our son *loves* going to school and often hates to leave at the end of the day (we even kept him there after moving from Berkeley to Oakland last year). Feel free to give me a call if you'd like to hear more about our experience. Holly
My daughter is currently attending OceanView Montessori. We really like it. She is thriving in the entire program. Ronna, the director, has 30 years teaching experience. She and the other teachers really strive to work with each child according to their abilities. They also have a policy of keeping the pre-school a safe place where everyone treats each other with respect. Jeanne
To the person who wanted a small place with Mary Poppins running the show:
I had a wonderful experience with a small pre-school with a fantastic teacher named Ronna Brodsley at Ocean View Montessori. She accepts children ages 2-5, and no more than 12-16 students.
My son was there for 3 years and I was very sad when he graduated to kindergarten.
Her phone number at the school is 527-3294.