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Augustus H. Burley School

1630 West Barry
Chicago, IL 60657

(773) 534-5475


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

Both half day and full day programs include: Developmentally appropriate instruction, activities, and self-selected play opportunities for artistic and dramatic expression, including performances in school-wide assemblies individual, small group, and large group activities developmentally appropriate preparation for Burley's literature and writing curriculum literature-based field trips enrichment classes daily outdoor recess.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
  • Many manipulatives
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Tricycles
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
  • Loft
Other subjects taught

From the Director:

At Burley, discovery and meaning-making are central to the student experience. We cultivate curiosity and a love of learning. Burley classrooms provide text-rich environments that represent student language and student work products. Our literature and writing focus emphasizes a love of stories and documenting students' interaction with words, texts, and pictures.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Every child is special and gifted, bringing unique strengths and limitations to the learning process. Play and social interaction drive the instructional decisions of the teacher. Through the actions of each individual child, teachers determine the strength areas of each child and how to best integrate those strengths to address areas for growth.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Burley is Chicago's first Literature and Writing Magnet Cluster School, and within our century-old building is a dynamic and thriving learning community. Students, teachers, parents, and administrators work together to create an environment where all students are challenged and nurtured. Our teachers and administrators have written a literature-based, multidisciplinary curriculum based on current research, teacher experience, and local, state, and national standards. The curriculum is not textbook-bound; rather, it is driven by many resources as students engage in meaningful inquiry and immerse themselves in quality literature. At Burley, students grow to be readers, writers, thinkers, and responsible members of the community.

A Typical Day

Preschool children at Burley experience developmentally appropriate curriculum driven by the children's inquiries and interests. The day provides a balance between free choice play and large group instruction. During play, the children explore with their imagination and creativity. Teachers encourage and challenge the students through communication and exchanges of ideas. The children experience being a member of a community through social interactions and problem-solving. Literacy is a strong component of our curriculum and incorporated with read alouds, journals, and group activities. Throughout the day, the children's social, emotional, intellectual, and physical needs are met by an engaging environment and caring staff.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Parents drop off and pick up their children, so there are frequent opportunities for informal teacher-parent and parent-parent interaction. Regular conferences are scheduled with every parent each semester. Newsletters are sent home every month, and teachers and parents communincate by phone and email.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Home visits by teachers
  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Parents in classroom early on