Below are our responses to our most frequently asked questions. As families tour our school, we also use this document to further capture and respond to more detailed questions about enrollment for 2020-2021.
What is Montessori? How is it different from traditional classrooms?
Montessori education is child-centered, offers independence and freedom within clearly defined guidelines and respects a child’s natural stage of development.
Primarily available in the United States as a private school option, a growing number of public Montessori schools have sprouted up across the country, serving diverse learning communities.
Montessori classrooms are:
- mixed age
- self directed — children select activities from a prepared environment
- organized around uninterrupted blocks of work time
- places where children learn through discovery
What is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is a process where students build empathy with others, reframe real-world problems and create innovative solutions.
What is Arts Integration?
Arts Integration is the use of fine/performing arts as part of the traditional subject areas.
What will my child(ren) gain by attending UMCS?
Our children work hard, are held to very high standards and perform on a wide range of assessments. Students and their families work together to build an inclusive learning community that is reflective of our culturally diverse city.
UMCS seeks to develop:
- Self-directed learning, so that children are capable of forming their own questions and adept at assessing the broad range of available resources to uncover answers.
- Emotional intelligence, so that children respectfully interact and engage with the most diverse cohorts across every conceivable category, from geography to religion to politics.
- Creative confidence, so that children have a process that they use to tackle challenges they are confronted with in and out of school.
How does UMCS address the culturally diverse, multi-lingual and varying socio-economic class levels of the student body?
UMCS is an inclusive and connected learning community that is reflective of one of the most diverse counties in the country. One of the powerful aspects of the Montessori approach is that it allows for different learning styles to flourish within the same classroom. We understand that different students have different ways of learning, some of them being culturally based. Our teachers and staff are all trained in cross-cultural communication regardless of background. We honor and respect the different members of our community and know that each member is a valuable component of our school. Our enrollment lottery has weighted preferences for students who attend program improvement schools. We support healthy cross-cultural relationships among all members of the Urban Montessori community.
What is a charter school?
Charter schools are public schools, free and publicly funded like district public schools.
What is the difference between Urban Montessori Charter School and other charter schools?
Our school was founded by a grassroots group of Oakland families, community leaders, seasoned educators and school administrators who have extensive experience starting up schools and advocating for students. We endeavor to realize an accessible public option for Montessori education in Oakland, as no such option currently exists.
What grades do you offer?
Multi-age classrooms serving children in grades TK-8.
- Primary: TK + K
- Lower Elementary: 1-3
- Upper Elementary: 4-6
- Middle School: 7-8
What are the school hours for students?
During the Learning Everywhere distance-learning program:
- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 8:30-3 p.m.
- Wednesday is a minimum day, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Is there an after school program?
During the Learning Everywhere distance-learning program, no. Generally, though, yes we have a safe and fun after school program for the UMCS community.
Is there a before school program?
No. When school is in-person again, children may be dropped off at 7:45 a.m. for supervised play on the playground.
If one of my children attends UMCS, will my other children receive preference in admission?
Yes. Siblings of current students must submit an application and are then exempt from the lottery.
Can I select Urban Montessori as part of the Oakland Unified School District options process?
Urban Montessori Charter School's admissions process is technically separate from Oakland Unified School District. In order to apply for UMCS, you must submit an application online.
What is the teacher-student ratio? Do you have small class sizes?
Montessori classrooms are designed to enable and empower children as independent learners. The teachers in the classroom act as facilitators of learning, working with small groups or individuals delivering targeted lessons while monitoring the classroom’s learning. At UMCS, there are a minimum of two teachers in every classroom of 27-34 students, for teacher: student ratios from 1:14 to 1:17. We also have support teachers and specialists who rotate through the classrooms at different times of day, working with individuals or small groups of children.
What electives are being taught at this school? Will there be P.E., music, art, foreign language?
All children at Urban Montessori receive instruction in art, music, design thinking and P.E. Our lead teachers are trained to integrate music, the arts, and Design Thinking into and among the classroom projects and activities. In addition, character and peace education is a major component of the UMCS curriculum.
Want to see Montessori in action?
If you are interested in Urban Montessori for your child, click the "Request an Account" button on the top right of this page and enter your contact information. We will be in touch shortly.