Parent Participation

SBMS parents and families are expected to enthusiastically participate in every aspect of the School’s programs. In fact, parent participation is essential to the on-going development of the School’s community while directly benefiting each and every child in the School. Indeed, the School’s role in the greater community, as the area’s only AMI-Recognized Montessori school brings added responsibility to each family’s role as stewards of authentic Montessori principles and methodology.

AMI – Association Montessori Internationale – has specific requirements and criteria that each AMI-Recognized school must achieve. AMI has great expectations for its Recognized schools, and “We” represent those very same ideals, those very same great expectations. SBMS is AMI’s only Santa Barbara-area school. Thus, truly, SBMS is Santa Barbara’s only “Montessori” school.

Accordingly, every SBMS family is expected to observe their child’s classroom on a regular basis; to eagerly attend and participate in all School “Parent Education” events; to participate in Montessori 101 and Journey & Discovery events; and to support the School’s essential fundraising functions—Book Faire; Annual Giving Campaign; and the Annual Auction Extravaganza.

Parent Participation at SBMS is vitally important to each child’s growth and development. The basic guidelines for each and every parent:

Observation. Participation. Support. Stewardship. Great Expectations.

Conferences and Reports

Parent conferences are typically scheduled with the parents of new children in October, and for all children in March of each school year. In addition to these scheduled conferences, parents or teachers may call for conferences as the need arises.

Homework (the extended classroom)

Homework in the elementary and Erdkinder classes can become an extension of classroom activities and is occasionally a preparation for the type of home study necessary in future educational experiences. It exemplifies independent work habits, and helps to further develop skills the children are establishing in the classroom, but is often the exception rather than the rule at SBMS.

For children to get the full value from homework—the extended classroom activity—parents must help create the proper conditions and atmosphere for concentration and study. A quiet room in the home, where other people in the family are also reading, studying or quietly working, is ideal.


The Elementary and Erdkinder classes are tested each spring. Unless otherwise scheduled the children are tested at the third-year level in the Lower Elementary, and then the 4th – 6th-year levels in the Upper Elementary, and both the 7th and 8th-year levels in the Erdkinder. SBMS currently uses the CTBS achievement tests. The children take the test that is appropriate for their age and grade level. These types of tests have some value in providing an annual assessment of each student’s growth and development, while also providing group and individual performance based upon national rankings and standard grade level achievement. The tests also help in evaluation as students matriculate into other programs. Test scores remain part of the child’s academic record.


SBMS’s AMI Montessori classes are “un-graded” without literal judgments being made of the children’s work. Children are encouraged to strive and produce their best work possible through their greatest and most sincere efforts. True satisfaction is reached when their best effort is put forth with their task being completed.

Repetition and repeated effort brings about the recognition that their work continues to develop as it becomes more and more sophisticated.

AMI Montessori teachers are trained to recognize when children have satisfied their needs with one apparatus or activity, and then introduce to the child new activities or new levels of work. In an abstract sense children in AMI Montessori environments are self-graded each day, all day long, as they work purposefully with their chosen and directed activities—these grades, however, are not judgments made by the classroom teacher, but a literal demonstration by the child of whether they’re prepared, or not, for a given task.

Success is both the goal and demonstration of whether or not a child is prepared for, or capable of, any given task or activity. At SBMS it’s the process as much as the product—the journey as much as the arrival.

Grace and Courtesy at SBMS—Campus Guidelines

Every community has a culture of expectations for behavior. The SBMS community’s culture is built upon a belief of caring, respect, and consideration for others in and within our community’s environment—indoors and out, at school and away from school (at home, too).

In order for everyone to be comfortable in our community we would like to share the following guidelines while interacting and communicating on campus and within the SBMS community…if understood and utilized then teachers, parents and others visiting the campus can provide role-model behaviors representative of what we foster and introduce in the classrooms. Thus, everyone has a better opportunity to understand and be active within the SBMS community.

Follow direct lines of communication; that is, speak to the person who can directly address your concerns, provide the information you seek, or offer the support you need. (This can be a challenge, sometimes, especially if you’re trying to speak to a teacher who is busy with their first responsibility—the children. Email or leave a note in the office—or maybe someone in the office can provide the information you need?)

  1. Walk and speak softly in all areas where children and adults are working and concentrating.
  2. If you need prompt assistance and the person you’re seeking is occupied please leave a note requesting immediate action.
  3. Greet people, young and older, in a warm and friendly manner.
  4. Use a respectful tone of voice when speaking to others.
  5. Suggest positive actions or resolutions
  6. Listen attentively and with an ‘open’ mind.
  7. Communicate in a clear and timely manner.
  8. Clean and straighten up after finishing an activity.
  9. Show appreciation.
  10. Listen.
  11. Empathize with others.
  12. Support our natural environment by reducing, reusing, and recycling (at school and at home and when away from home—SBMS is a Green Award recipient).

We greatly appreciate your desire to support the extensions of the Grace and Courtesy lessons we give in the classrooms (Dr. Maria Montessori was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, after all!).

Parent – School – Parent Communication

Administration, faculty, and staff are available to discuss questions during school and office hours, however, the highest priority of staff and teachers is the direction of the children enrolled in the school’s programs—please do not hesitate to contact the office for information and guidance, and to schedule conferences or discussions with teachers or School staff.

Teachers and staff can be reached by email, telephone, notes, and often most effectively by contacting the School office (805.685.7600). Everyone on the SBMS staff is intent upon responding to your queries or concerns, however, the School’s responsibility is to every child and every parent, at all times. SBMS’s organization tends to allow for immediate and responsible communication between School and families.

Day-to-day communications often entail details about changes in a child’s schedule, e.g., any change in a child’s dismissal from school requires written notification. Notes, delivered to the office, to a staff person, to the bus driver, remain to be the most effective way to keep the School up-to-date on your child’s schedule, medications, and particular circumstances.

Arrival and Dismissal

The SBMS school day begins at 8:30am; completed at 2:45pm.

It is imperative that arrival and dismissal times are closely adhered to. School drop-off is from 8:15am to 8:30am Please do not drop your child before 8:15am School begins promptly at 8:30am. Please say goodbye to your child outside the classroom. California law requires the School to dismiss children only to those authorized in writing by the parents or legal guardians.

Toddler Procedure

State law requires the School to keep attendance records verifying your child’s attendance each day. Please sign your child’s attendance record upon arrival and dismissal each day. Drop-off for Toddlers is between 8:30 and 8:45am. Please, park at curbside and walk your child to gate, or an Erdkinder student may be available to walk your child to the Toddler area.

Primary Procedure

State law requires the School to keep attendance records verifying your child’s attendance each day. Please sign your child’s attendance record upon arrival and dismissal each day. If you choose the “drive-by” method of drop-off or pick-up, your child will be escorted from (or to) the car and classroom.

Elementary/Erdkinder Procedure

No formal sign-in and sign-out procedures are required. Please let us know, however, if your child walks or rides a bike to school without parental supervision. Because there is no formal sign-in procedure for the older children it’s imperative that families notify School in the case of absences.

Arrival and Dismissal

It’s a state and school district requirement. Visitors arriving on campus, for whatever reason, must first register at the main office (sign-in). Observations of SBMS classrooms always begin in the School office.

Health, Illness and Emergencies

Health and Emergency Forms

Your child’s health form and emergency cards must be completed before school begins. Each year we are required to report to the State your child’s health and immunization record. In addition, parents are required to submit two original Emergency Cards, with original signatures.


All medication (prescription, over-the-counter, natural, or homeopathic) must be brought to the main office (in the original prescription container) with written instructions for administering. No child shall self-administer medication at any time.


The most important thing parents can do for their sick child is to keep their child at home until fully recovered. At the first signs of contagious illness (fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, mucous from eyes or nose) please notify the office that your child will not attend due to illness. In the event of illness at school, parents are contacted immediately and arrangements to pick up your child up must be made, even though our campus is wonderful we do not have areas nor staff to enable us to isolate children.


In the event of an accident or sudden onset of illness, the School will not hesitate to seek proper care for the child. The information provided on the child’s Emergency Card is consulted immediately and the parents are called. If necessary, the child will be transported to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital emergency room by staff, the police or fire department, or by private ambulance. In order to provide for immediate emergency treatment SBMS is required to provide a “consent statement” parents must agree to and sign before their child attends School. It is imperative to keep your child’s Emergency Card up to date!


Simple, washable clothes are the recommended attire. Try and limit commercial images on clothing as they are often distracting. Please be mindful that the School has many activities that include paints, oils and solutions that stain clothes. Montessori environments are “hands-on” classrooms, so expect your child to participate at the “expense” of their clothes. Sneakers or other rubber-soled shoes are recommended. Flip-flops, high heels, or clogs are strongly discouraged. Please label clothing with your child’s name to avoid confusion. Remember: FUNCTION over FASHION!

Play Dates

Play dates planned in advance of dismissal time avoid disappointments and delays. The School must be notified, in writing, giving permission for a child to go home with another family or caregiver, not already designated on the Emergency Card. Please understand the sensitivity of “curbside” social arrangements—see birthday party page. That is, children spontaneously arranging an afternoon social event not only put parents on the spot, but the other children not included feel isolated. The School encourages the extension of the social experience, but not at the expense of others, please guide your child in making visits and social arrangements in advance while heeding everyone’s emotional needs.

Going Out

Throughout the school year, Lower and Upper Elementary students and Erdkinder students “go out” to enrich their learning experience. Generally, only a small group of children go on these “research trips,” although there are occasions for all-class events, too. All trips are chaperoned by a teacher or parent.

Birthday Parties and Gifts

Upon coordination with the family a child’s birthday can be recognized in the classroom. Contact the office (805.685.7600) to begin the process. It is suggested that cupcakes or cookies be prepared at home to share with the class. (NO cakes please! Ditto for Root Beer floats, etc.) It is also a SBMS tradition for a book to be donated to the classroom by the birthday child. Please check with your child’s teacher for an appropriate treat and a book recommendation. Invitations to and/or gifts for “home” birthday parties are extremely disruptive at School: PLEASE, DO NOT distribute invitations at school, mail your invitations directly to your invitees planning for weekend parties so children aren’t bringing gifts to school for after-school parties.

Teacher Contact

Your child’s teacher may be contacted through email, via telephone messages, or scheduled appointments. Please understand each teacher’s first priority is the safety and care of all the children under their direction. Even “just a quick question” can lead to a time-consuming response. If you need to speak with a teacher, simply call the School office indicating your intent, or ask to schedule an appointment. This way, the teacher can give you their undivided attention when they have the opportunity to respond.


Adults (parents, grandparents, friends and family) are encouraged to observe the classrooms by scheduling appointments with the main office. Indeed, all SBMS parents are expected to observe the child’s class on a regular basis. The School recommends morning observations in order for observers to see the children during their most absorbed work period. All observers must register with the office prior to entering the classrooms.

Family Communication

The School’s main form of weekly communication is the “Friday Fun Folder,” or visit for ongoing School information and informative links to other websites.

Lunches—SBMS’s Green Award

At the youngest level SBMS introduces the children to recycling, composting and lastly, trash. Our innovative program was awarded SB County’s 2000 Green Award for reducing our trash by 80%. Please help your child pack a well-balanced nutritional meal, excluding candy or other highly processed or sugared foods, making sure to utilize reusable and recyclable containers. Try to avoid glass containers and mark your child’s name clearly on lunch boxes and containers. Involve your child in the lunch preparation process as they eat better when they have been included in its preparation!

The School’s lunch projects (directed and operated by the Upper Elementary and Erdkinder groups) includes Pizza Day, and Kid Kafe (a food preparation business run by the Erdkinder). SBMS families can subscribe to these special lunch offerings—info in the office (805.685.7600).


Montessori’s specific approach to the classroom environment allows for books or other educational materials, and learning experiences from home or the community, to be shared in the classrooms—when coordinated with the classroom teachers. Please, contact your child’s teacher, first, then be ready to help prepare your child for the responsibility of sharing with their class.


SBMS’s goal has always been to keep tuitions as low as possible (SBMS remains the most affordable independent school program in the area), and despite our efforts to keep our costs at a minimum, for each student the School’s tuition is nearly $900 less than what it actually costs to operate SBMS’s finely tuned experience. Thus, nearly 20% of our annual operating budget is dependent upon contributions in order to provide the School’s quality programs to families throughout the community.

Fundraising is vital to the School’s operations and the ongoing development of its programs. Every SBMS family is expected to participate in fundraising efforts and events. The current SBMS Fundraising Committee (volunteer parents and school staff) coordinates four separate events: Annual Book Faire; Annual Giving Letter; Annual Auction Extravaganza; and an Annual “Raffle.”

Fundraising is also vital to the School’s Financial Assistance Program providing scholarship to families already enrolled in the school, and additionally to those seeking enrollment. More than $35,000 in Financial Assistance was awarded for the 2006-07 school year.


One of the goals of SBMS is to invoke in each child the development and discovery of their own inherent self-discipline through lessons of “Grace and Courtesy” (Toddler and Primary) and “Freedom and Responsibility” (Elementary and Erdkinder). Within the prepared environments, beginning at the Toddler and Primary level, self-discipline develops in the classroom community through the ‘natural’ consequences of appropriate and inappropriate choices.

Children of the classroom “community” are directed toward an awareness of the varieties of resolutions for conflicts. When conflicts or inappropriate choices cannot be resolved by the teacher, or within the classroom community, the child’s family is contacted and involved in the process of resolution. The first level of resolution is with the children, the second level includes the family’s awareness, and the third level directly involves the family and School working toward resolution.

SBMS families are reminded to share with the school any and all concerns they may have regarding incidents occurring at School. Most social and behavioral issues can be resolved at School, however, occasionally misunderstandings or other issues develop where the School and family can work successfully together for resolution. On occasion a child’s version of a school situation can be distorted or misinterpreted—thus, parents are always encouraged to seek perspectives from the School.