“Council Oak Montessori: where children love to learn since 1990”—this unofficial motto of the school, coined by a student in 2015, speaks volumes about the school community.
In Council Oak’s mixed-age classrooms, children’s curiosity is nurtured through materials developed by Maria Montessori based on her scientific observations and studies of child development and learning.
Montessori materials isolate concepts while encouraging further exploration of ideas by the student. Children learn math, language and social studies in a manner that feels more like play than work.
Don’t be fooled, though; these students are building skills to last a lifetime. For example, the school’s youngest students are able to name and identify the continents through lessons using puzzles, art and song.
Montessori education acknowledges and respects the whole child and strives to prepare a child for life. The families at Council Oak Montessori have seen proof of that for nearly 30 years.
Each month, Council Oak Montessori School’s head of school receives letters from principals at various high schools, both private and public, in the Chicago area. Each letter names and congratulates a Council Oak graduate for embracing a strong work ethic and maintaining high grade-point averages for inclusion on the honor roll.
Recent graduates are attending such universities as Duke, Northwestern and Lewis.
Council Oak Montessori School alumni work in all types of professions—from music to aeronautical engineering to jewelry making. Regardless of age, grade or profession, one thing remains consistent with Council Oak graduates: they are leaders, innovators and change-makers.
The school’s staff is proud of Council Oak alumni. They’re even more proud of the authentic Montessori curriculum that consistently accomplishes these results.
Although Montessori education is nothing new, it isn’t widely understood. The word Montessori has no copyright, and it is possible for a school to use the name without following the insights crucial to this successful style of education.
The educators at Council Oak Montessori School take pride in offering a “high fidelity” Montessori education. The proof lies in the school’s accreditation from the American Montessori Society (AMS), which ensures a consistent quality of education in Montessori schools. AMS and American Montessori Internationale also provide the training and certifications for Council Oak teachers.
Sept. 3 will mark the first day of the school’s third year in Blue Island. In that time, Council Oak teachers have seen two classes of eighth-grade students move on to high school.
The school’s gardens, which began with apple and pear saplings, now give harvest to a variety of vegetables and fruits, and they serve as sanctuary to many pollinators as the school restores their habitat.
Students have the opportunity to learn about and interact with their natural world on a daily basis at Council Oak. Learning the life cycle of a plant, for example, takes on a whole new dimension when students get to excavate and dissect roots with their own hands. The way they interact with nature to how they experience their food is newly informed, creates additional layers of information and, ultimately, expands their potential in a meaningful way.
Just as the school’s outdoor program has been developed as an extension of the Montessori botany curriculum, Council Oak’s music program is informed by and enriches the Montessori music curriculum. Students are not only introduced to a wide variety of instruments, music appreciation and history, the school uses music as a way to expand students’ knowledge of everything from cultural studies to mathematics.
By letting the children take charge of their own learning, Montessori education teaches them independence at a young age.
“When a child is given a little leeway,” wrote Maria Montessori in “The Secret of Childhood,” “he will at once shout, ‘I want to do it!’ But, in our schools, which have an environment adapted to children’s needs, they say, ‘Help me to do it alone.’”
The educational environment at Council Oak Montessori takes away the stress of formal institutions, and its children thrive because of it.
To learn more about Council Oak Montessori, 2521 Grove St., in Blue Island, interested parents can arrange a school tour, which lasts about an hour.
For more information, call (708) 926-9720.