Adolescence is an age of rapid growth, emotional development, and the transformation of the child into an adult member of society. At this critical age, adolescents need more guidance as they develop key communication skills and a more mature and complex understanding of social interactions. They need creative and physical outlets, especially for processing complex emotional and psychological issues. They crave personal space, but they are also highly social! They still need to move on a regular basis, and being physically engaged in work that produces tangible results is rewarding to them.
The Middle School program at Alcuin Montessori School is designed to meet the very specific needs of children from 12 – 14 years of age and to support their families through this unique time in their development.
The program incorporates both traditional Montessori philosophy and current “best practices” for middle school education. The program emphasizes independent, project-based and student-driven work. Students are encouraged to do high-level critical thinking and to consider themes and issues across all areas of the curriculum. Daily and weekly homework is given in addition to student-managed long-term projects with the goal of having students engaged in 1 – 1.5 hours of homework a night. Students are introduced to formal lectures along with interactive presentations, dynamic activities, student-led research, group projects and more. Students are given quizzes and tests, as well as alternative forms of assessment and informal observation.
The program also includes weekly enrichment programs in art, theater and physical education led by child-focused specialists. They engage the students in learning about and through all areas of life (not just textbooks) by incorporating real-world applications of studied concepts. They discuss current events and their implications on all spheres of life and they contribute to our school and local communities through volunteering and service projects. The students take weekly trips into the Oak Park and Chicagoland area to facilitate curriculum enhancement, community engagement, and authentic orienteering and practical life experiences.
Our curriculum has been carefully designed to meet or exceed state standards in all fundamental areas of study, as well as to align with the benchmark outcomes of local public schools, ensuring full preparation for a smooth transition into high school. Our units of study are theme-based and center around several essential questions. The curriculum includes mathematics, the sciences, social studies, literature, humanities, writing, Spanish and more.
Alcuin Montessori’s teaching staff is fully committed to mentoring and coaching students through a sometimes complicated and confusing time in their lives. They facilitate appropriate, effective communication and problem-solving skills through one-on-one, small group, and large group interactions. Additionally, they support students in balancing their school and home lives, helping to plan homework around family time and extracurricular activities.
With a clear understanding of the emotional, social, and academic needs of this formative developmental stage, Alcuin Montessori’s program is specifically designed to guide and nurture students as they transition into high school and their teenage years.
Once we had a good night's rest, everyone woke up at 6:45 am (willingly or unwillingly I can't say) and started getting ready for breakfast in the hotel. Breakfast consisted of bagels, fruit, pancakes, cereal, etc. After breakfast, everyone filed into the bus and headed towards the Capitol Building. It was a colossus of a building, and it was covered in scaffolding, which made it which made it even more intimidating. The security was the strongest we would have to deal with on this trip; however, it was efficient.
Once inside the building we were greeted by a dozen marble and copper statues. They were depictions of famous people (mainly politicians) from all fifty states. After the statues, we saw an interesting video about the founding of the nation and the Capitol.
After the tour, we went to the Library of Congress. It was a beautifully made building with many arches and mosaics. The most popular thing there was Jefferson's library. There were so many books!
Yesterday, we woke up at 4 am, and we didn't know that a hard walking day was waiting for us. First, we got dropped off at the airport; all of us were excited about the trip. At the airport, some people got breakfast, and others just stayed reading. We were really tired! As we arrived in Washington, we got dropped off at the Smithsonian American History Museum. We stayed for an hour at the museum in which we were able to see exhibitions and learn about the American presidents, the First Ladies, and the wars that the US joined (among other things). The First Ladies dresses were gorgeous and elegant!
As our trip finished at the museum, we walked back to the US Department of Agriculture building (and that was just the beginning of our walking day) and had lunch at their amazing cafeteria. After we recharged our batteries, we headed to the Holocaust Museum in which we saw a huge exhibition about the horrible genocide that happened during World War II. We recalled what we learned about World War II, saw heartbreaking photos about what the Jews suffered, learned facts about the Holocaust, and got to know stories from the ones who survived it.
A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Teen Years
Roxy Krawczyk, Middle School Teacher.
Parenting a tween can be a daunting task. We often hear parents bemoaning the alien that seems to have taken over their sweet, darling child and left them with a moody, defiant teenager. They worry that this new phase will be permanent, and they worry even more that they are ill-equipped to deal with it.
Never fear! The transition from childhood to adolescence is indeed a marked one, but it is simply another phase of normal human development. Knowing what changes are taking place inside your adolescent’s body and brain can help you understand what to expect, and being aware of their shifting needs and priorities can help you keep your own expectations in check. The tween years can look different for each child, but there are some developmental markers that are universal. Knowing what’s coming will help you maintain your sanity, and theirs.
Wow, what a day! We saw so many things and learned a lot.
Our morning started off at 5:30 am. We got on our bus that was waiting for us just outside the hotel. Our first stop was the coffee plantation for a tour and breakfast. As usual, breakfast was great, and we got to go on a tour of how coffee beans are made. You wouldn't believe how long it takes to make coffee! The tour was really cool and the coffee smelled great.
Our next stop was the volcano. It is one of five active volcanoes on the island. It even had a sign saying, "in case of an eruption... stay calm." When we arrived, we had to walk up to this viewing area. When we got to the top, it was the prettiest thing I have ever seen. There was smoke arising from the volcano, and then when it cleared, you could see the crater. We decided to walk to another crater which had turned into a lake. The walk was pretty steep, and you were encaged by branches and leaves. I nearly passed out! We saw some wildlife along the way. When we got to the top, there was a beautiful lake. The landscape in Costa Rica is much greener than it is back home, and the air is fresh. After taking a couple of photos, we decided to walk back down to our bus to go to our last stop.
Today was the rainforest day. We had to get up super early in order to catch the bus to the boat place. The boat ride was amazing! The boat was kind of like a bus. It was small and covered, and it fit about 20 people. We saw monkeys, iguanas, and birds. I was really happy that we got to see the monkeys, because we don't get to see them that often.
After the boat ride, we got back on the bus and went to Monte Verde for lunch and a hike. On the way, we saw two pineapple trucks. It was really cool. I love to eat pineapples! I didn't know how close to the ground they grew.
For our last day of classes, we had class in the morning and then went to lunch and had a certificate ceremony to "graduate" from CRLA. The teachers said what we did and what we were good at and then gave us our certificates, and the people at CRLA made us cake to have after our lunch. I thought that the classes were very effective for the students at that level, and I had a lot of fun in the classes. It was a very different way of learning than at school. For example, there were only three people per class, so the teacher could focus more on helping certain students learn different things.
After CRLA, we went to a store called "Pequeno Mundo," which means small world. They had anything you could need for very low prices. We went there to buy food and clothing for the orphans that we had seen the day before and were now going to see again. When we were driving to and from the orphanage, we saw many houses that seemed to be leaning on each other without any stability. The people seemed to be very impoverished. Our tour guide told us that many people in those areas were drug dealers, drug addicts, alcoholics, and abusive or neglectful to their children. Many of the children in the orphanage had come from families that neglected them and left them on the street alone or were taken from their parents because their homes were unsafe. Some children in the orphanage were extremely nice, while others were unintentionally aggressive, but all of the kids would smile and laugh no matter what had happened to them in the past. I thought this was a very beautiful thing, because it shows you can change someone's life just by giving them safety and love.
Hola! We started off the day with our morning classes at CRLA. I have to say, waking up early and going to three hours of Spanish was something I was not looking forward to. But I did have a change of heart. Over the past two days we have learned so much Spanish it blows my mind. First of all, our (Alcuin) teachers, who basically knew nothing about Spanish, have been communicating at the places we have gone so well. Second, the classes go by so fast, and we all enjoy our teachers a lot.
When the noon hour arrived we filled up on a very satisfying lunch, that consisted of rice and beans, a choice of meat, and vegetables. Some of the kids also enjoyed an ice cream. After our lunch break we had an afternoon lesson and were assigned homework for this evening. It was then that we were led to a studio room for Latin dance lessons! Little did we know we would all be pushed to our physical limits as the instructor set the music level on high and led us through several styles of dance. Our smiles may have belied our fatigue, but it was such a great opportunity to try something new. Hopefully our muscles will recoup as we get another chance tomorrow to dance.
Whew! What a long -- but exciting -- day we've had today!
We began it all with a 4:00 a.m. meeting at the airport. We were all surprisingly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed running on adrenaline to be sure. We sailed through security, and our first flight was a breeze. After a quick layover in Houston, we hopped onto our second plane and enjoyed an equally smooth flight into Costa Rica. In keeping with the theme, we picked up our luggage and took a straight shot through immigration -- no lines, no waiting!
Articles and posts by our teachers, staff and administration.