We are intending to send DS to a private Montessori school for the 2010-2011 school year, but just as a back-up and out of curiosity, I got all the paperwork and applications to enlist him in a Free VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten for the uninitiated) instead. The VPK folks were at the YMCA yesterday so I figured I would check it out.
First and foremost, 99.9999999% of the schools offering VPK are religious and therefore of absolutely NO INTEREST to us, so I decided to visit one of the 3 Montessori schools offering VPK in our area. I called them this morning and let them know we would be coming for a tour after my first doctor's appointment this morning.
So we get there and my first impression was that the place looked very small and run-down. Upon entering I was disgusted by how filthy it was. It was apalling. The "director" if you even want to call her that was literally 12 years old and HAD NO MONTESSORI TRAINING. When I asked if all the teachers were Montessori certified, I was informed that no one but the "head teacher" (whatever that was) was Montessori trained. Um, ok.
The first thing we were shown was the 2 year old group WHO WERE WATCHING TV. Are you kidding me?!?!?!? Montessori method is not about watching TV. Sorry. The next room we entered was the 3 year olds sitting on a DISGUSTING rug listening to a woman read a story. There were NO Montessori equivalent activities present (block stacking, number matching, eye/hand coordination lessons), NOTHING. The room was filthy, nay the entire BUILDING was filthy. So finally we are taken into the VPK rooms and I just wanted to scream. There was absolutely NO LEARNING or INSTRUCTION going on. Just kids running amok playing with standard toys. Half the toys were broken and raggedy as well. NONE of the standard Montessori activities were present: globes, maps, animal identifications, musical instruments, mathematical projects, etc. Are you effing kidding me?!?!?! There was no structure, no teaching, no sort of any Montessori program present and I was furious, embarassed for setting for in there and disgusted with the whole place.
Then the "director" took us out to the playground which looked like something out of Chernobyl or Dawn of the Dead. Garbage everywhere, rotting picnic tables, and a playground that looked more like a torture chamber from the movie Saw.
We were very nice and said thank you as we left (our "tour took less than 10 minutes) and we were given a card and told to "be in touch". HUGE FAT CHANCE LADY. How dare they attach the Montessori name to this pile of crap?!?! Seriouly, it looked like a glorified daycare run by idiots who couldn't care less.
Seeing this made us realize that somehow, someway, we are GOING to send DS to the private Montessori school that we fell in love with. It's a shame that the children in this dump will not benefit from such a place.
On a side note, and a whole other discussion altogether, I am also frustrated and unhappy about the lack of nonsectarian, nonreligious schools that are available to people out there who don't believe in god and are raising nonreligious children. But that's a whole other can of worms all together.