Sherri K. writes: “I am a parent of two children who attended Willistown a few years ago. My daughter is now a freshman at Stanford and my son is in 10th grade at Great Valley. WE miss EVERYTHING about Willistown. My children’s experience at Willistown not only prepared them academically and socially, but it ignited a certain curiosity about the world and a love of learning which, in my opinion, sets them apart from many of their peers. Most importantly, I am struck by the tremendous confidence they now have, which I also attribute to HOW they learned in that environment. Simply put, there is NOTHING as COMPLETE as a Montessori education, and children who are fortunate enough to enjoy a Willistown Montessori education will reap the benefits for the rest of their lives. The MONTESSORI WAY is a “GAME CHANGER” in the game of LIFE !! Thank you, Willistown … we hope to be able to attend the holiday concert and catch a few minutes of that special MONTESSORI SPIRIT that we miss SO MUCH!”
Willistown Country Day School is an exceptional school in every way. It truly practices Dr. Montessori’s principles. Since enrolling my child one year ago, she has profoundly blossomed. From practical life skills to foreign languages to interpersonal relationships to simply following my directions, the positive growth in her is truly amazing. And, her growth has had a direct effect in creating a happier home for our entire family. One of the best aspects of Willistown is how celebrated every child is as an individual. In addition, the academics are well above standard, as are the Montessori teaching tools provided to each student. While it is a bustling environment, the teachers’ decades of experience working as a team shines as the organized school day flows and each child gets what he or she personally needs. Children here nap soundly, eat well and play vigorously as children do when they are safe and happy. Approachable, dedicated and supportive merely skims the surface of the wonderful staff. I truly believe that because of attending Willistown, my daughter will have a life-long love of learning, a sense of community awareness and a deep seeded self-confidence.
I remember the moment I fell in love with Willistown Country Day School. Believe it or not, it was when my son Seth first tentatively crossed the threshold of the upstairs classroom. Seth was visiting Willistown as a prospective student, and Ms. Jen got down on his level, shook his hand, and asked him what he liked to do. Seth lit up like a lightbulb as he shared his love of math with her, and before I knew it, he was off, happily working with the fraction materials. To those familiar with the Montessori method, Ms. Jen’s actions may appear ordinary, and my strong reaction may seem strange. But at that moment, I was filled with gratitude and relief that we had finally found an educational situation that just might work for our son.
Prior to starting Willistown Country Day School as a kindergartner, Seth had been enrolled in a traditional preschool setting that had left him unchallenged and frustrated. Day after day, Seth had been required to perform tasks that he had mastered years before. My husband and I were desparately searching for a school that could accommodate Seth’s needs when we found WCDS. After his disappointing prekindergarten year, we knew we needed a school that would enable Seth to work at his own academic level, yet still offer him opportunities to interact with kids his own age.
As a teacher myself, I had not learned much about the Montessori method in my teacher training program. I was hesitant to believe the WCDS staff when they assured me that they would be able to individualize Seth’s learning. Once Seth started in kindergarten, I quickly became a believer. For the first time in his short but painful educational career, Seth was being challenged and learning at his own level. Much to my surprise and delight, each piece of Seth’s instruction was being individualized, from his math lessons to his homework. Seth was thrilled to have uninterrupted work time all morning long. His multi-age classroom allowed him to have lessons with the older students when necessary, but still to have plenty of interactions with his age mates.
As we near the end of our second year at Willistown Country Day School, I think back to that small five-year-old boy walking into his first Montessori experience, and I am amazed to realize the extent of his growth and development. WCDS has managed to keep Seth intellectually challenged, which is no small task with an avid learner like him. In addition, the staff’s emphasis on educating the whole child has not only expanded Seth’s mental capabilities, but enriched his repertoire of self-care abilities and social skills as well. Instead of making Seth feel different by pulling him out of his classroom or accelerating him into an older classroom, Willistown has embraced Seth’s academic abilities in a multi-age setting. As a result, Seth has blossomed socially, making friends with academic peers as well as students his own age. Do I think love at first sight really exists? Absolutely. My initial reaction to WCDS’s dedication to individualizing instruction has proven to be right on the money. Seth’s excellent Montessori education at Willistown Country Day School is providing him with sufficient mental stimulation and enabling him to enjoy all the benefits of being a well-adjusted, well-liked and happy elementary student.
– Kristen C.
We have four children. All of our children have started in kindergarten. Our eldest left after finishing fourth grade and is now in sixth grade. We have a daughter in fourth grade and a son in kindergarten. When looking for a school, we looked at everything on the Main Line and were drawn to Willistown Country Day School. Up until our visit we did not know that much about Montessori and had planned to send our daughter to another school. We were so impressed with Marilyn Reeves and her passion for a Montessori education. She wanted to instill in her students a life long interest in the love of learning. During our visit, Madame Nadine and Ms. Jen exemplified that same passion. It is a small, special, and nurturing environment where the best in each child is brought out.
We view the process at WCDS as one of a blossoming flower. Upon entry in kindergarten our children were closed flowers. Through the years they were nurtured and learned so much and blossomed into confident, caring individuals that have a genuine interest in the love of learning and the world at large. This experience culminated for our daughters by speaking on the floor of the United Nations and starring in the school play.
Also, you will never find a school that compares when it is time to leave. It is a compromise but the academic transition was easy. Our daughter was well prepared academically and has had no problem in a “traditional classroom.” Ironically, the WCDS classroom is more self-structured than the traditional classroom. The biggest challenge is meeting children who have not grown up with the Montessori philosophy of treating others with respect. You will find your children are thrown into a competitive environment but their WCDS upbringing will keep them from becoming caught up in it.
One of our children summed it up best by saying: “Mom, it’s simple: WCDS is like our second family.”
– Catherine M.