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Alcuin Montessori School

Oak Park, IL 60302

(708) 366-1882


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Montessori

From the Director:

Our programs are designed for children ages birth through 8th grade. Classrooms include ages 3 to 6 and children stay with the same teacher for all three years. Older children serve as role models and mentors to younger children. In addition to academic subjects, children learn grace and courtesy, conflict resolution, time management and respect for others. Practical life (including hand-washing and dressing oneself), sensorial (including vision, sound, and touch activities) and academic (including number, counting, cursive letters, word construction and reading) are introduced.

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
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
  • 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 Spanish (for all students), musical theater and art (5-year-olds.)

From the Director:

Qualified, nurturing adults guide children to moments of discovery that give them great joy and a sense of dignity as an independent human being. Respect for one's self, for others and for the environment are the foundation of a Montessori education. We believe that the world's future depend on how children grow up. Alcuin is committed to being a community reflective of our diverse world where children of all backgrounds respect and care for one another.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Classrooms operate on the principle of freedom within limits. Children under the guidance of a teacher, work at their own pace with materials of their own choosing. Different levels of ability are expected and welcomed within each classroom. A Montessori classroom is design to fit each child instead of making each child fit the program.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

"We are a community of parents, professionals, and children brought together by common goal, and our values are dedicated to providing an education based on Montessori principles.

Interactions within the Alcuin Community are based on equality and on respect for individuals and diversity. Parents, faculty, and staff must each have a voice in the governance of this educational enterprise.

As an educational community, we are accountable for the education of our children. We use collaboration among all its constituents, parents, and professionals alike to build a secure and supportive environment in which each child can prepare for his or her future in a rapidly changing world.

Alcuin strives to be an active and responsible member of a larger community that includes alumni families, Chicago and its suburbs, local community, and the national and international Montessori Associations. Our first major goal is to use these principles to provide children with an excellent education firmly based on life skills, an appreciation of history, literature, and the arts; an understanding of nature, the environment, and the world; and a mastery of mathematics, language arts and sciences. This knowledge will stress relationships, similarities and contrasts between and among disciplines.

Alcuin is a place where children are encouraged to discover and reach their full potential. The second major goal is for each child to be confident, self-disciplined, curious, motivated, accountable for his or her own actions, flexible, tolerant, and committed to life-long learning. These attributes, when coupled with a sound knowledge base, foster clarity of thought and objectivity when solving problems."

Excerpted from the preschool's website

A Typical Day

The preschool program includes independent work, individual or small-group lessons, snack preparation and snack time in pairs, group time before morning dismissal, and for full day students, group lunch and recess outdoors.

Before and after school programs are available starting for 3s.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Alcuin provides ongoing communication with parents starting with informational coffees and school tours for prospective families, parent education throughout the year (including the Montessori Journey which allows parents to experience materials as their child would), weekly bulletins and a monthly newsletter, parent conferences and parent observation in classrooms and ongoing communication with teachers as needed.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • Go on field trips
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

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


Separation is Handled through:

  • Home visits by teachers
  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Small group sessions
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

Alcuin provides a transition program at the start of each school year for children new to the school with smaller groups to allow children to acclimate to the classroom. During these shorter sessions parents are welcome to meet together (coffee provided!) while these shorter sessions take place. Teachers will keep in touch with parents and discuss strategies if issues arise during the year.