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Black Bear Preschool

1801 West Byron
Chicago, IL 60613

(773) 244-0700


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Teacher-Led

From the Director:

Experiential, engaged, multi-sensory, fun, back door with intentions at every level.

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

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

More Information

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

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  • Puzzles
  • Banking, ATM machine, grocery store in gym, restaurant in gym, projects which involve learning measurements and values.
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
  • Classroom projects, scavenger hunts, organised sports
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
  • Life process projects
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
Other subjects taught symbols and sounds numbers and quantity concepts social language through games learning and lyrics pre-writing starts at 3.5

From the Director:

Neurologically based, multi-sensory, multi-modal, extremely small classrooms with ratios of 1-2 and 1-3 max. Philosophically, Piaget had it right in our opinion along with neurolgical formation/maturation based on exposure to opportunities to support strong skill sets and a solid neurological foundation.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

We have very small classes, well trained staff and asses each child's baseline skills prior to starting class thus set goals for each student at the highest level of successful challenge and identify areas where support will be required. Company focus on continued education.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

It is our belief that the most important period in anyone's life is that time when the brain is actually creating neural pathways and processing centers that encode and decode a variety of information including sensory, language, cognitive, motor planning, auditory processing, music, tactile, visual, vestibular and propriceptive to name just a few. This happens from birth, when 30% of your brain is developed to about six years of age when 90 percent of your brain is developed and hardwired. Additionally, developmental changes, academic skill sets and the joy of a preschooler must be respected in the process through play based activities that support incidental learning. Most importantly these are children, who need to run and play, catch frogs, dig for worms, play kick ball, get filthy dirty and be so thirsty after all of this that no water has ever tasted so good! Children were meant to move and they must have opportunities for gross motor play with peers, enriched and more complex play skills while being engaged through teacher facilitation to continue their development. The other ideas that we feel must be integrated in the program is that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose but the most important aspect is getting off the bench and participating. We do keep score. Also sometimes you get to be self-directed and other times you have to follow the instruction of your teacher. Opportunities for both are extremely important for higher level learning tasks. We believe in addressing each child based on their aptitude not their chronological age as a foundation for complexity of learning opportunities presented, again, in a play based, rich experience, facilitated by engaed activities.

A Typical Day

Free play facilitated by teachers in a 2-1 or 3-1 classroom ration, maximum of 6 student in class untill JK and SK when it changes to 12 with 2 teachers.
circle time, hand-writing, or question of the day depending on the classroom
art tasks
academic tasks
gym time
story time
science projects

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

homework, formal reports and conferences, cameras in each classroom for parents to observe, caregiver training, parent laison boards and open door policy. We also provide parent feedback after each class.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • 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:

  • Small group sessions
  • Parents in classroom early on

Handling Separation: From the Director

However both child and parent feel the least amount of stress initially. We always attempt to have the student "anchor" with the teacher for support. Additionally, as much as we can, take away the unpredictability by using picture schedules, transition songs, counting, visual timers etc.