Creative Learning Montessori considers its environment a learning “community” in every sense. As in all communities, activities are going on at many levels. Learning happens through individual, small group, whole group, co-operative and peer teaching venues throughout the day, in planned and spontaneous activities. This teaching style is one that requires intimate knowledge of each child academically, socially and emotionally. The structure of a Montessori program, as well as the training of the teaching staff, facilitates this classroom style perfectly.
Our elementary classrooms truly embrace the Montessori philosophies of children teaching and learning from one another. With a Lower Elementary (5-8 year olds) and an Upper Elementary (9-11 year olds) classroom, each child’s opportunity to learn at his own level and work to her greatest potential is a constant. The two classes might work together on specific activities or a child may join the other class for an appropriate lesson. Though the groups are very connected, to accommodate the variety of learning that takes place with this wide age range, the classrooms have spatial divisions that offer areas for multiple activities to happen simultaneously without disturbing one another. Children see daily how learning is a process of building on acquired knowledge and have others to model from.
The elementary classrooms are staffed with a Lower and Upper Elementary teacher. This provides the children with their “base” teacher, which gives a sense of continuity, and group directed activities, while having the other teacher to offer an avenue into activities and materials that may, in many settings, be unavailable. Each teacher focuses on her core group, while freely interacting with and teaching all children in the elementary program.
Montessori groups are made for 3-year cycles of learning with the same peers, teachers and curriculum cycle. This 3-year programming has many benefits that are enjoyed by student, teacher and parent. The ability to start a school year with a teacher that has a knowledge of your child offers the advantage of knowing that learning will start on day one, without the usual lag time while a teacher gets to know a child’s abilities, learning style, strengths and challenges. The peer group is well established and the friendships formed over multiple years make the educational experience all that much more enjoyable and beneficial from a social standpoint. The emotions of dealing with the unknown are greatly minimized, and those that are character building, are faced in an environment of comfort and support as the children pass from year to year.
Though a child’s participation in a full three year cycle is ideal, Creative Learning Montessori students and staff warmly welcome children from other educational environments as well as those that will be moving on. The small, warm social setting makes it easy for a child to quickly feel at home in our learning community and, allowing for an adjustment period as a child accustoms to a new learning style, the self-directed venue that encourages a child to take part in the responsibility of his/her education is an exciting and joyful experience for any young learner. When children move to new learning settings they do so with confidence and a love of learning.
The daily activities in our classroom are as varied as the children who make up the program. Each day includes class meetings, independent work time, and individual, small and large group lessons.
Though a class curriculum is set for the areas to be covered during the course of the year, the time spent on each unit and the depth of study is often determined by the interest of the group and the direction they take it. Often lessons are carried much farther than planned as we “follow the lead of the child”. Individual curriculums are based on the needs and abilities of each child and are ever evolving and changing.
Art, Music, & Physical Ed.
Each of our enrichment courses is taught by contracted teachers who join us weekly for their area of expertise. The children look forward to the weekly classes when they can delve into developing an understanding and appreciation for these extended learning subjects.
Each child in our elementary program is responsible for recording his/her daily work; with different expectations for different grade levels and individual abilities. This written work acts as an ongoing visual of the work accomplished, the sequence of lessons being presented and a “child created textbook”. By recording entire activities, as opposed to filling in blanks on ready made worksheets, the child gains a more concrete understanding of the lessons being given. By reviewing these cumulative works the teachers are able to adjust future activities to the specific needs of the child. Seeing your child’s paperwork and talking to him about the lessons represented becomes an interactive way of participating in your child’s education.
Consistent daily attendance is very important. Included in this is arriving at class in time to start the day with the rest of the class. Lessons often carry from day to day and week to week. Excessive lost time is hard to make up. Although the program is very individualized, being part of the group and participation is paramount to achieving all benefits of the class. Each child is given a great deal of responsibility for their learning and the adults in his/her life must show a prioritization of education in their life.
Though class time is important; learning happens through all arenas of life, and life experiences can sometimes be worthy of missed class time. These times should be kept to a minimum and chosen with care. As a registered elementary school with the State of Illinois we are only able to promote children to the next level of education if we feel their learning experience warrants a full “year” of learning.
LUNCH & SNACKS
Catered lunches are ordered in advance and are included for all children in the tuition. A snack break is available each morning for the children to enjoy. Children go to their snack as a break from work, to have a few minutes of social time (or alone time) and to get a “boost” that is often needed in the hours between breakfast and lunch. Please provide your child with a healthy snack to enjoy during their morning at school. We ask that only fruits, vegetables, proteins, and/or grains are included - no sweets please. As a rule of thumb please pack enough for a SHORT break from morning work.
The elementary children enjoy a recess period every day of about 30 minutes. The advantages gained by getting out in the fresh air for free play and social fun are many. With few exceptions, if a child is healthy enough to be at school they will benefit from outside exercise and fun.
Birthdays are celebrated by the class with the in-class baking of cupcakes by the birthday child and a chosen partner and recognition of the important event by the class as a whole.
A Montessori classroom tries to provide representation of different life forms so classroom pets are often a part of our school. The care of these animals provides the children with an age appropriate responsibility for their school. Please let us know if your child has any allergies that we need to be aware of.
Children in the Elementary years are learning to negotiate their social world, and exploring the successful (and sometimes not so successful) ways of interacting with others is important in helping them become the best they can be.
Classroom, as well as small group and individual conversations are held to help children consider options in behavior, adjustments based on specific situations, and others points of view.
The children at Creative Learning Montessori have highly individualized work plans that by their very nature include very little time each day spent on “unproductive” activities. This allows us to send minimal work home at the end of the day.
Typically homework is provided in limited amounts, with the emphasis on the responsibility of doing work outside of the classroom, finishing it on time, and getting it back to school in a timely manner. (Homework does become more labor intensive in the Upper Elementary program).
Independent research projects are done throughout the year. These projects coincide with subjects being explored by the class and usually have a due date a few weeks after they have been assigned. Research projects are assigned from kindergarten on, and have graduating levels of expectations depending on the age and abilities of the child. Upon completion the children give oral presentations to the class on the subject they have researched.
Experiencing learning outside of the classroom is very important to our program and the elementary groups go on frequent excursions to help facilitate this.
School Day Excursions
Monthly outings are to be expected, with additional trips taken advantage of if the opportunity arises.
Excursions are planned and announced well in advance if possible, but wishing to stay open to unanticipated opportunities, there can be times during the year when a “last minute” e-mail appears with information of a trip coming up on the near horizon.
All excursions require a signed permission slip for the child to attend, and there are no alternative activities provided at the school if a child is not released to join the outing.
In most cases, the costs of the excursions are covered in the yearly classroom fee. Excursion fees are applied even if unexpected situations cause a student to not attend since most venues charge a full amount regardless of the number of children who are in attendance..
All transportation is done by bus contracted through Barrington Transportation Company.
As an extension to the benefits of learning outside of the classroom, each elementary group has an overnight excursion for the children to enjoy. This experience begins at the First Grade level.
Open and frequent communication between teaching staff, administration and parents is a high priority for our program. The children know that we are a team working together, with them, in their best interest. Please feel free to contact any one of us with questions, comments or concerns, and we will exercise the same openness with you. Teaching staff needs to be selective as to the times spent away from the class, so we ask for your indulgence if they need to return a call or schedule to meet with you at a convenient time.
Regular newsletters are distributed to families of our school to keep you current on events and news that is important to all. We also send out a “Weekly News & Notes” e-mail with timely reminders and news specific to each class. We encourage you to email the school, or the teachers directly, to communicate with us at any time.
Scheduled parent, teacher conferences are held twice a year, in the fall and again late winter. Conferences are goal setting for the child and offer a platform for communication on progress being made.
Other conferences may be requested by staff or parents throughout the year to assess and discuss any of the many areas of growth that may apply to an individual child.
Parents & other family members are provided with a number of activities
throughout the year that let them feel like a part of Creative Learning
Montessori School. Events that take place outside of the school day hours
include a Fall Festival, Science Fair, end of the year Art Show, Presentation
Night and two school parties that include performances by the students. We
also invite any parents to share their skill and interests with the children by
scheduling to be a guest presenter in our classrooms.
Our program embraces the philosophy of acceptance and celebration of differences in individuals, so we have a wide variety of children. At times the academic, emotional or physical needs of students could benefit from the additional services of professionals that specialize in a particular area of child development. Our program does not have these support members on staff and therefore we may recommend contracting such support through outside services. In most cases this support may be recommended but not required. Occasionally, a child will have a need that we feel we cannot adequately meet without support.
The staff of Creative Learning Montessori School is committed to serving the children and families of our community. Please contact us with any questions, concerns, or conversation that will enable us to provide the best academic, social and emotional experience for your child.
Policies to Know
Assessment of student skills is easily done through observation & evaluation of classroom work since children and teachers are working together in all areas of study and for extended time. In general our students are working at, or above, grade level. With a well balanced population of students we have children working at many levels and staff is carefully assuring that each child is working at a challenging and appropriate rate. Each staff member is knowledgeable of the expectations of grade level skills and keeps ongoing records on each child for the 3 years the child is in their class. We will keep you informed if there is a concern.
If you are interested in having your child participate in additional assessment outside of our program we will be happy to help you find services.
Looking Toward The Future
We have had excellent feedback from families whose children have moved into programs ranging from continued private schooling to traditional public schools. It is with great pride that we can state our students have moved into their next educational experiences as confident, well rounded, self directed learners. Knowing that the question of “moving on” is on the minds of all parents who have chosen to participate in independent schooling, we have had many families whose children have advanced from our programs offer to share their experiences with others. Please let us know if you would like names & numbers for contact.