Sometimes it’s best to hear from other parents…

“This week marks the one year point for us being a part of the MINE family. We speak from experience having our child at another childcare facility, so often make comparisons between the two. To us, there is no comparison. MINE is the best there is. Almost immediately as we made the switch to MINE with our then 17 month old, our family changed. We were amazed, within the first week, how relaxed our child had become, how excited she was to go to “school” each day, and the amazing person she was becoming. All of this led to a completely new dynamic within our family – with our child, as spouses, and as a family unit. The school is not only teaching our daughter, but teaching us, as parents, as well. We have learned much more effective and respectful ways to interact with our child and it has been a complete joy to be able to learn with her and have her teach US so many things.

The MINE family is amazing. From the teachers and staff to the families of all of the students. The teachers welcome you, daily, to observe their classroom, encourage you to be part of the environment, and interact on a one-on-one level almost daily. This really helps to reassure us, as parents, that our child is often getting this same type of attention throughout the day. With regular parent conferences and daily check-ins, the teachers are able to describe in full detail everything they observed of our child – from what she ate to how she was making decisions. We get reports on her focus in her work, efforts to learn new skills, communication with friends, and general silliness. We love to see the genuine smile the teachers have when they talk about our child and the other children at MINE. It helps relieve all of the anxiety we have about leaving her for the day.

As impressed as we are with the teachers, we are just as impressed with the director. There have been several occasions where we have raised a question or concern regarding our child’s development. Rachel is quick to lend an ear, advice, and shows an intense amount of interest in the whole family. We were immediately impressed the first time we met Rachel to determine if MINE was the right fit. She answered all of our questions with well-researched answers and we quickly became victims of her passion for the school and Montessori education. Rachel visited our home, as she does with all newly enrolled students, to determine how our child would fit into the MINE environment. She expressed a genuine interest in understanding our family, our history, and what we wanted for our child. This level of care is unique and has contributed to a very respectful and trustworthy line of communication between parent and director.

We love the MINE program. We love that our child is encouraged to persist through challenges in order to gain new skills each day. We love that she is encouraged to explore a very diverse culinary palette, which we have not found in any other childcare center in the area. We love that our child is encouraged to be mindful of her peers, her environment, and her whole self. We love that our child comes home covered in dirt or mud because she spent so much time outside exploring the forest and her natural surroundings. We love that she needs to be prepared to go outside, regardless of the weather, and that a good portion of her day is spent outside. Most of all, we love that our child doesn’t want to leave at the end of the day because she is having so much fun. She is always happy, smiling, playing, and laughing and this, in and of itself, is worth everything to us.

We cannot recommend MINE more highly for an amazing start to your child’s life!”

Dr. Liesl Walker and Mason Walker

“MINE is a school. As it happens, all schools also provide care for the pupils, but it should be clear that MINE is much more than childcare or daycare. The teachers at MINE are well-trained experts. My daughter has been there for a year now, and from the first week, it was obvious how much she was learning at MINE. Whenever we visit our friends and family, and they see the things Mary can do for herself, and her interest in exploring and trying things, they comment that she’s so independent and ahead of where they’d expect. While I hope some of that has to do with her own constitution, I’m confident that any child at MINE would exhibit similar abilities thanks to the hard work of the teachers at MINE. It’s difficult for me to write a thorough review of how great the program is at MINE especially in comparison to other places because as much as I try to learn about parenthood and child rearing, I’m a graduate student, and always wish I had more time to educate myself. Thankfully, I learn from MINE, they’re teaching me and my wife, in addition to our daughter. To me this is a tremendous additional value: I learn, in a way that many other parents don’t have the opportunity, from the experts at MINE to give my daughter room to explore, learn, and grow and to decide for herself when she’s ready for things that I would’ve considered beyond her at a given stage.

At MINE, aside from their instantiation of the well-renowned Montessori curriculum in which the children are taught various “works” that are developmentally appropriate and challenging, they are teaching her about eating, nutrition, cleaning up after herself, and communicating with adults and peers. The music time when they play guitar for the children has become my daughter’s obsession. She loves to watch and listen and especially enjoys helping to strum. She’s note even 18 months, but we’ve got her a small ukulele, that she’s started to enjoy at home. From a young age they’ve helped her learn sign language along side english (note: please don’t hold the misconception that was popular in the past about this having a negative impact on the children’s spoken-language development because a tremendous volume of research directly contradicts this), and we think this may be why she seems to have many fewer tantrums than other children her age: she can communicate with relative precision what she needs, and we can understand and at least acknowledge, if not provide for her request.

Not only is the school wonderfully staffed with these loving, caring experts whom my daughter is delighted to see, and sometimes reluctant to leave, but the facilities are beautiful. It is clean, and obviously very intentional in the entire layout and even which “works” (manipulatives, or “toys” if you must) are currently out in rotation.

They school is young and growing and as such they are on the cutting edge of utilizing information and communications technologies *where appropriate* (and intentionally not, when a nuisance, burdensome, or diminishing the quality of education and care) to communicate with the teachers, parents/families, and public. The community among the families is growing with people sharing babysitters, nannies, clothes, toys, tips, events, and etc.

In my role as a graduate student for research and for assistantships I hold, I have to travel a few times a year. This is already a difficult thing to leave my family for several days at a time, especially with my working wife to have to care not only for our daughter, but also our dog on her own. I really don’t know if I would be able to bring myself to do so if we were not both completely confident in and happy with Mary’s education and safety all day every (week)day at MINE. To know that not only is she at least safe, but further is learning and growing and working every day and eating better than either of us, is such a pleasure.

I whole-heartedly recommend that you very strongly consider enrolling your child or children at MINE.

Dr. Michael Stewart and Emily Stewart

“I am a military trained former division 1 athlete that holds a bachelors in psychology and a masters in education. I have coached over 50 professional athletes, thousands of college athletes, and too many youth athletes to keep track of. I also have multiple years of sucessfully counseling and reforming at risk and troubled youth. I am highly motivated, intrinsically driven, and deeply passionate about self improvement. I am the son of a primary school teacher and brick mason. Early in my life it was made clear to me the value of education and a strong work ethic. One without the other is as useful as a plane without wings. So is a school without teachers.

I have 2 children enrolled at M.I.N.E. I previously had my oldest enrolled in a daycare for 5 months prior to being enrolled in the M.I.N.E. school. I toured every daycare in Blacksburg and Christiansburg and chose what I believed to be the best option. My experience with the daycare was not acceptable. Through my observations, it seemed as though the care providers were not actively involved and just trying to survive the day between drop off and pick up. The children spent the majority of the day in front of a tv without any type of structured development. The menu contained absurd amounts of sugar (50-80 grams/day) and highly processed foods. A breech in identity security was the final straw that prompted my daughter’s unenrollment. I then resumed my stay at home dad role and began searching for alternatives. The reason I initially decided to enroll my child in daycare was for peer socialization (she didn’t know how to play with kids her age). I stumbled upon M.I.N.E. by chance without knowing anything about montessori.

The reason I shared my prior experience with an area daycare is to highlight the differences in a daycare and the M.I.N.E. school. At M.I.N.E. they have college educated teachers that are actively involved in the children’s education. It is amazing to see how they build and develop the child’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment through teaching and allowing them to do tasks on their own, starting with simple ones and progressing to complex tasks. Most importantly they allow the child to fail on their own and try again. This developes the foundation for problem solving perseverance. This, in conjunction with ignition, is a very important aspect of early education. The children get to spend a significant amount of time playing and exploring nature (not a gated plastic playground). The diet is organic vegetarian that is mostly sourced locally (not microwaved highly processed boxes of preservatives). The teachers are respectful to the children and their feelings, set boundaries, and hold them accountable to the rules. The way the children are cared for reminds me of spending the summers on my grandparents farm (good times). Because of the environment and structure that compliments my daughter’s home life, she is progressing well. Before the age of 3 she was completely independent with bathroom duties, able to serve herself at diner, clean up messes, dress herself completely, read one syllable words, do simple addition, write over half of the alphabet, hike over 2 miles, and laugh when a friend does something funny.

I have my children in M.I.N.E. because I love the environment, not because of necessity or lack of options. I take my children to school every morning knowing they will be happy, safe, and loved while receiving the foundations of early education. This is a wonderful place with wonderful teachers, that is filled with wonderful children. It is a credit to our community.”

Mr. Sam Brown and Dr. Sandra Brown

“We have two children attending Montessori Nido Environment, and we are very pleased. Due to our jobs and education, our family has moved around quite a bit. In total, we now have had experience with FIVE different early childhood care/centers. They are as follows; 1) very well respected University childcare center in another town, 2) Nanny, 3) in-home daycare center, 4) very well respected and expensive Montessori school in Northern Virginia, 5) MINE.

We like MINE the best.

The teachers here are educated, experienced and highly invested in the children. Unfortunately, You don’t find this in all childcare/school settings. At MINE, the staff is so respectful and intentional in the way they interact with the children. Even though my kids are young (2 and 4) they are respected and listened too. They are held to high standards. They are guided in their daily endeavors by caring adults who are attuned to their needs and know them well. They are given appropriate amounts of freedom within very safe boundaries. They are comforted when the get overwhelmed, frustrated, sad or hurt. They interact all day long with adults who are genuinely interested in who they are and who they are becoming.

Teachers and staff are communicative and responsive to my questions and concerns. On a regular basis, I have in depth conversation with my children’s teachers about how my kids are doing. I leave those interactions feeling grateful that my kids have these people as teachers; and, that our family has this school as a resource.

MINE emphasizes being outside. The teachers are sensitive to when the children just need to be outside and burn off steam and when there is an opportunity for the children to work and focus in the classroom. This type of sensitivity and flexibility that MINE provides speaks to MINE’s deep understanding of what kids need and how they learn best. My children are developing a quit wonder and reverence for the natural world. I wish I could say this all comes from me, but I know it’s because MINE gives them the opportunity to be outside. They spend time jumping in puddles, poking sticks in the mud and picking flowers all under the watchful eyes of the MINE teachers.

They food program at MINE is incredible. Lets face it; getting small kids to eat healthy food is a challenge. In between picky toddlers and working parents, it can be hard to get your kids proper nutrition. MINE provides a vegetarian, organic locally sourced (when possible) menu. Lots of early education centers feed the children highly processes foods. MINE supports our efforts as a family to get proper nutrition. I am happy to report that my kids are eating fruits and vegetables!

There is an abundance of information available regarding the benefits of Montessori education, so I will not address that here. I will say that I believe Montessori helps my children with their concentration. They are given the time to become absorbed in their task without being interrupted. This crazy modern world is constantly spinning, buzzing, dinging and lobbing heaps of sensory stimuli at us around the clock. The children in Montessori programs are allowed to build their own understanding in a self -directed fashion without interruption. I see these skills emerging at home when I watch them try to do puzzles or build with Legos. It is amazing to watch.

Being connected to this Montessori community has also helped my parenting skills. I regularly observe the teachers interacting with the children and I have picked up some good strategies and language for setting boundaries with my kids and encouraging cooperation. The rules and boundaries are so consistent at MINE that my kids behave quite well while there. It is helpful for me to see just how cooperative, peaceful and dignified they are able to be.

If some of what you have read hear strikes a chord with you, I would strongly encourage you to consider Montessori Infant Nido Environment for your children.”

Drs. Bryan and Sarah Lewis

“Our daughter has attended MINE for the past 1.5 years, since she was 11 months old. With guidance from caring teachers and staff, she has transitioned beautifully from the Nido Environment to the Toddler Community.

The caring teachers and staff at MINE allow our daughter to develop naturally. They introduce her to appropriate activities by observing her unique interests, abilities, and development. The authentic Montessori materials and “works” provide a hands-on approach to learning. The classroom is always thoughtfully prepared with a variety of works including pouring water, flower arranging, puzzles, art, and books—all in excellent condition and displayed with a sense of order. My daughter routinely chooses what she will do for an uninterrupted work cycle, which leads to focused engagement and intrinsic motivation. With her developing sense of self-efficacy, the Montessori-trained teachers at MINE encourage her to practice both accomplishing tasks on her own and asking for help when she recognizes that she needs it.

At MINE, my daughter has opportunities daily to interact with and learn from younger and older children. This “real world” arrangement helped her easily accept her recent role as older sister when her baby brother was born. Beyond the individual work cycle, there is community time for singing songs and enjoying music, daily nature walks in all types of weather, and meal time with friends and teachers. We recently sat in during afternoon snack and were so impressed by how the toddlers served themselves and cleaned up when they were finished. The consistency in MINE’s healthy meals has really influenced my daughter’s eating habits. At first, we were totally surprised at a family gathering when she chose for dessert the fresh fruit instead of the chocolate wafers! Now those kind of healthy choices are just normal.

As parents we introduced a few of the MINE principles at home and we noticed welcomed changes in the rhythm of our day. For example, instead of “cleaning up” after our toddler, she is involved in putting away toys, setting and clearing the table at meal time, getting herself a healthy snack, matching socks in the laundry, watering plants, etc. The list goes on!

Everyday, our daughter gets to see herself as a valuable member of the MINE community. The pride and pleasure she experiences from the teachers focusing on her efforts, instead of outcomes, will have long lasting effects that will serve her the rest of her life. MINE is a warm and welcoming community of teachers and families who value the development of the whole child.”

Dr. Lenny Grant and Holly Grant