Whether you are looking specifically for a Dual Language Japanese school or just a school where your child can be inspired to grow and develop, MLA is an excellent option.
Our child attended MLA's full day plus extended hours program from 3-years-old until Kindergarten. When entering Kindergarten (non-Montessori) our child was prepared both socially and intellectually. We remain on great terms with the teachers, and we made many good friends from the other families we met there.
The teachers were open and informative about their teaching practices and the development of our child. They put the best interests and safety of the children as group, and as individuals, as a top priority. In addition to interacting with the class as a whole they were able to listen to and interact with our child on a one-on-one basis, giving our child individual attention when needed.
The daily Japanese immersion was a major reason we chose MLA. They provided a social environment that showed a 3-year-old the importance and usefulness of Japanese beyond just understanding one parent and our child took major steps towards becoming bilingual/bi-literate. MLA provided a head start in reading and writing Japanese and English, math and science, introduction to and daily use of manners and Japanese culture, where appropriate.
MLA provided excellent weekly "extra-curricular" activities, most of which were included in the tuition. Activities included music, art and dance. Spanish, piano and harmonica lessons were also available for a fee. Activities and lessons were on site during school hours and instruction was by professionals from top notch external institutions.
If you are used to suburban settings you may find their outdoor space lacking, however, they do an excellent job with utilization of the space they have. The kids get outside 2 or 3 times a day and safely use an isolated part of parking area in addition to their play area.
Bottom line, MLA is full of great teachers who really care about the development of your child. We were extremely happy with the education and care our child received there, and wholeheartedly recommend it.
Our son attended MLA from the time he was 3 until he turned 5. He enjoyed it and grew tremendously from the experience. The staff is great, both in Japanese and English, and students focus on personal growth and on helping each other. They are calm, well-behaved, and curious. Most of them wind up reading in two languages and doing mathematics before they enter kindergarten. Our son attends a Selective Enrollment Elementary School in Chicago now a number of Chicago-based MLA students do that, and last year the acceptance rate was 100% for students that applied from MLA. When one considers that the aggregate acceptance rate is somewhere around 5%, this speaks volumes about the school.
When we called MLA to ask about enrollment, the director invited us to come in and observe a typical day at our convenience. We were so impressed with their transparency, and quickly saw why the forest park school district recommended their program. I am an early child hood specialist in Chicago, and MLA impresses me with their curriculum, approach, and classroom management. Each teacher is professional and exemplifies the Montessori tradition. We are ending our first year in the program, and look forward to having our son graduate from MLA.
I recommend MLA without reservation, it is a great school. The communication is the best of any of the schools we have had over the years. We always know what is happening, and when with plenty of time to arrange to join a field trip or pay an extra fee. Their Japanese language is native. Their faithfulness to Montessori precepts is exceptional. They know their students; of all the teachers my children have had, they have given the most thorough reviews of my son's development in all the pertinent areas for his age, including gross and fine motor skills as well as social and cognitive development. Their discipline is respectful and consistent. As mentioned before, they have a very fine music teacher and art teacher, whose classes are included in tuition. My son has learned immensely here, especially to be an enthusiastic, self-directed and responsible learner.
Our girls have attended MLA since 2006 and their experience really exhausts superlatives. We've found MLA unique in the way it combines a gentle, nurturing environment with serious academic purpose. We were a bit worried that, at least initially, the girls would have a rough time with the Japanese immersion orientation, as neither had any previous exposure. To our relief that never proved an issue, and our girls felt at home with MLA from the very first day. We've been impressed and delighted with all that they have learned, and our own lives have been enriched many times over through our association with the unique community -- teachers, students and the other families -- that MLA has generated. We've had a chance to observe many other quality (and far more expensive) preschools across the country, and none is better.
The school has great teachers. The director has won the Golden Apple award in teaching. We love their language immersion program: Japanese. They also offer Music and Art classes on a weekly basis and they are covered in the tuition. Their hours work perfect for us as a Montessori school : 7:30 to 6pm. All in all, we like the school.
My older daughter is starting her 2nd year here and my younger her first. Neither their father nor I speak Japanese, but this has made no difference to my children's ability to learn. The teachers are outstanding, all extremely proficient in their fields. Although the school currently only offers instruction for pre-school age, the fact that there is an after school program makes this school all the more desirable. My only regret is that we did not know about the school sooner so that our oldest could have started at age three instead of age four.