Alcuin Montessori is pleased to announce a new partnership with Rogers Park-based Redwood Literacy. Beginning in the fall of 2020, Alcuin will expand its Montessori program to provide students with learning struggles with the option to receive a specially tailored curriculum through Redwood Literacy. This full-day, academic year program, for children in kindergarten through 8th grade, will feature Alcuin’s long-standing nationally recognized Montessori education, an academic curriculum with Wilson-certified teachers, as well as Alcuin-led enrichment such as art, Spanish, swimming, and theater allowing students to become fully immersed in the Alcuin community.
Redwood Literacy offers research-based reading and writing intervention programs for children with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and other learning struggles in kindergarten through 8th grade. Often, most schools are not equipped or properly trained for the support, or specialized instruction, necessary for the success of these students. There are currently no programs in Oak Park and the surrounding areas that offer this opportunity to children with learning challenges. Seeing a demand that wasn’t being met, Alcuin and Redwood worked together to create a seamless collaboration.
Alcuin’s executive director, Gina Gleason, states, “We recognized that the ideal educational mix for students with learning challenges was not being offered in our area and knew that the Montessori Method, partnered with specialized instruction, would be the best answer. This partnership allows students to continue to learn at their own pace and offers a balance of extensive one-on-one instruction to address their learning challenges while nurturing the child’s love of learning, creativity, social and emotional needs.” Additionally, Kait Feriante, founder and executive director of Redwood Literacy, adds, “We are thrilled to be expanding to the Oak Park area and partnering with an incredible institution such as Alcuin. We are confident this is going to provide a needed opportunity for many families across the community and are grateful to be a part of this new adventure.”
Virtual admissions, tours, and assessments for the program, which will begin in the fall 2020 school year, are currently taking place. For more information on programs, tuition, and the admissions process, please visit www.alcuin.org.
Our Primary team is working hard with their distance learning plans. Not only are they working on Practical Life, they are also bringing math, culture, art, Spanish, science, and sensorial into the fold as well as sending articles and much needed emotional support to families.
The children could paint with spices, they could make “Kindness Notecards” as part of the Giving Artfully Kids program, they built a bird feeder then kept track of the different birds that visited, they had simple drawing and handwriting games, or created their own Land, Water and Air Containers. These are just a few of the things that the children had the opportunity to work on.
Of course, their favorite part is spending virtual face-to-face time with their teachers. Hearing their voices and seeing their faces is beneficial to both the children and the teachers who are all missing one another terribly. It's lovely to still have that community connection during these uncertain times.
Here is a sample lesson you can try at home with your children...
Sensorial - Rough vs. Smooth
● Find 10 things that are rough. Take a photo, gather, draw, write a list or do all four!
● Find 10 things that are smooth. Take a photo, gather, draw, write a list or do all four!
● Sort something (clothes or found objects outdoors, maybe) into order: rough, rougher, roughest
And a sample recipe:
Quick Cucumber Pickles
● ¼ c sugar
● ½ cup apple cider vinegar
● 2 teaspoons salt
● 2 large cucumbers (or mini Persian ones), thinly sliced
● Dill (or basil leaves) about1 tablespoon chopped (½ Tbs if dried)
1. Put sugar, apple cider vinegar and salt in a bowl.
2. Whisk until sugar and salt are dissolved.
3. Add cucumber and dill (or basil) to the mixture.
4. Cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours.
5. Serve chilled.
Our teachers are hard at work, bringing Montessori to the home, connecting with their students, and continuing the Alcuin tradition of community. Junior Elementary teacher, Nicole Cochrane, shares with us what the elementary team has been doing during this new normal...
Our elementary team worked tirelessly over spring break to produce a system that will best support our Montessori learners, while also understanding this unique situation we are currently facing. In talking with families to determine their needs, we found a wide variety and set out to develop a system that would support everyone based on their individual needs.
Another major goal was to coordinate our resources in order to enhance the ease of use for the children, parents, and staff but to do so in a way that most effectively replicates the effective nature of the Montessori environment, albeit, in a digital medium.
That said, we have developed a comprehensive program constructed of three independently useful platforms for the elementary community to center around.
1. We have created a comprehensive library using Google Drive. It’s a one stop location for all your classwork needs and includes extensive work options, materials the children can create, passwords, Zoom links, parent resources, templates and more. This is a dynamic resource that the teachers are continuously working to expand and curate.
2. We have upgraded our Seesaw subscription level which allows students and teachers to interact directly through assigned activities. The upgrade includes new features allowing the children to post from home making Seesaw into a 2-way interactive tool!
3. We will be introducing the IXL personalized online learning platform as an option for those families who are comfortable with online learning. As the third leg of our new educational structure, this platform will additionally support the children in their learning through a highly diverse, and personalized curriculum which automatically self-adjusts to the child’s level. The program allows the children to explore different concepts of interest, but also for the teachers to assign recommended works, providing along the way general activity oversight and guidance. The teachers will have to ability to see exactly what the students are working on and their level of proficiency within each skill.
Lastly, there are daily Zoom class meetings at 11:00 am for updates, expectations, sharing, and community.
Did your vacation get cancelled? Already cleaned your room and played five rounds of Monopoly? Maybe try some of these…
Practical Life/Care of the Environment & Self
- Written by our Middle School team
The DCFS-licensed Infant and Toddler programs, at our Roosevelt Campus, provides learning experiences in an environment that is cheerful, inviting, and filled with opportunities to explore. There is always a hum of activity from the teachers and children. The natural routine in these classrooms includes a rich Montessori curriculum that includes exposure to music, outdoor time, and fun in our large muscle activity room.
Materials in the Infant program have been mindfully selected to meet developmental milestones in order to nurture and support the learning opportunities of each young child. Low shelves and tables make the materials easily accessible to the infant that is mobile. The classrooms, with its large windows and abundance of natural light, promote a balance of peaceful comfort and engaging stimulation in a caring, nurturing environment.
The Toddler program is composed of three elements: the prepared environment, observation, and non-directive guidance. Classwork focuses on practical life exercises, sensory exploration, and vocabulary enrichment to help children acquire a sense of order.
The Toddler classroom allows children to move easily from large muscle movement areas to fine motor exercises, including pouring, sweeping, dusting, buttoning, zipping, and table setting. A child's inclination for independence is respected by giving him skills to accomplish tasks independently. This provides opportunities for freedom and exploration in a safe and loving atmosphere. The children learn to take care of themselves and their surroundings and develop skills to communicate with one another. Lessons of Grace and Courtesy help the children develop respect for themselves, for others, and for the (class) environment.
A program this special deserves a space that is specifically designed with the infant and toddler needs in mind. At our Roosevelt Campus, the Infant and Toddler programs help to prepare your child not just for school, but also for life.
“Of all things love is the most potent.” – Maria Montessori
The days leading up to Thanksgiving Break are always quite busy at Alcuin, but the busy hum of activity is one that reminds us that community, friendship, and love are all around us. We celebrate our classrooms, our communities (both large and small), and we celebrate our families---wonderful moments spent together before we all go home and give thanks for our many blessings.
Last week, the children at the main campus finished their week-long Thanksgiving celebration. An Elementary classroom was paired with a Primary class, and the two sister classrooms partook in shared experiences. On Monday morning, smiles and stories were exchanged as the older children eagerly read to the younger. On Tuesday, they did a craft together cutting and gluing and laughing as they worked. On Wednesday and Thursday, the classes worked on food prep for their feast, and the week ended on a delicious note as the children feasted together with their partner class. What a lovely week!
Earlier today, the Middle Schoolers visited the Infant and Toddler classrooms as they surprised the littlest members of our community with a song (“Five Little Pumpkins!”) followed by a selection of board books read to the children. The infants and toddlers sat quietly and listened wide-eyed and filled with excitement. Their morning visit was rounded out with some shared pumpkin bread made from scratch especially for the infants and toddlers. It was so sweet seeing the 7th and 8th graders gingerly interact with them and offer up their baked goods.
Finally, to round out the festivities, the Main Campus hosted its annual Extended Family Day. Extended Family Day provides aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and neighbors to spend the morning with their favorite Alcuin students. The day began by performances in Spanish by Primary and Junior Elementary who both sang songs. The Junior and Senior Elementary also recited poems in Spanish. After the maravilloso entertainment, coffee and donuts, our guests visited the classrooms and were treated to lessons, lessons, and more lessons from the children.
As everyone left, with a souvenir Alcuin coffee mug, a smile, and a tummy full of donuts, it was a wonderful reminder of the power of community. No matter the child’s age, whether they are four months or fourteen years, connections and community do, in fact, remind us that love is all around. They are supported by their family at home and at Alcuin. It's such an amazing thing we are truly thankful for.
For more photos, visit our Instagram!
Dr. Maria Montessori once stated, “Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.” It’s a lovely sentiment, where we, as caregivers, do all we can to make sure our children have the kind of environment that will give them the world. A world they will one day become a part of as adults. It is important, however, in these times, that when we look toward the children and their future, we ask are we doing all we can for them? Are we freeing their ultimate potential?
At Alcuin Montessori, we pride ourselves on adhering to the basic Montessori tenet of following the child. What this means is taking their lead, meeting their needs, and advocating for them. As such, we recently introduced our “Alcuin Montessori School Policy Regarding Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and Non-Binary Students and Staff Members” policy. While Alcuin has always been a safe space, we felt it was important to have this policy in place.
According to Trans Student Educational Resources, “80% of trans students feel unsafe at school because of their gender expression.” Our policy is meant to foster an educational environment that is safe, welcoming, and free from stigma and discrimination for all students and staff members regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Yes, the policy facilitates compliance with local, state and federal laws concerning bullying, harassment, privacy, and discrimination, but it also achieves so much more. It ensures that all students (and staff members) have the opportunity to safely experience and express themselves, and live authentically. Dr. Montessori stated, “To assist a child we must provide them with an environment which will enable him to develop freely.” At Alcuin, we strive to provide that environment for each and every child.
We could list the countless facts and data about the positive impact acceptance has on trans youth, but as with everything else we approach at Alcuin, ultimately it is about people, not statistics. Alcuin Montessori promotes acceptance throughout our school and provides a safe space as a support network for all. We strive to create an environment in which it is safe for people to express themselves and their individuality without consequence or judgment.
We hope to both educate and cultivate an attitude towards others marked by a generosity of spirit and acceptance, and welcome all students and families to our community. By instating this policy, we are not changing what we already do. We’re merely reinforcing our ideals that all children deserve recognition, respect, and love---and at Alcuin, they receive just that.
Each year, our Senior Elementary visits Nature's Classroom. Nature's Classroom is an outdoor education center and Montessori school in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The children are immersed in the great outdoors from the time they wake up until they fall into bed. The trip is an annual favorite where children can meet other students from various Montessori schools that are also visiting, but more importantly, it serves as a bonding experience for the classroom. Ms. Alla shares the classroom's experience this week...
We all have been having an immeasurable amount of fun at Nature’s Classroom. The children’s unbounded enthusiasm is shown from very early in the morning till the very moment they close their eyes at night.
Transition into nighttime has been smooth and successful. Ms. Heather reads aloud every night, which enables the children to fall asleep faster; plus, they really enjoy listening to her read “The Thing about Jellyfish” book. Your letters have also been anticipated and welcomed with much delight.
The weather and the scenery are so beautiful that the children truly enjoy staying outside all day. They are also enjoying the food at Nature’s Classroom. It turns out, NCI has the “BEST bread sticks in the World!”, and the “salads taste better than the ones back home.” We must admit, we have never witnessed so many children eating so much salad before.
Every day, children are immersed in different activities and learning experiences. They get to pick and choose from a wide range of classes, such as:
Here are also some quotes from our students that can give you a small window into their own view of NCI:
We will see you on Friday!
On Tuesday, October 1st, Alcuin Montessori hosted our annual High School Night. At this event, parents were able to learn about different high school options for their children. This year, representatives from Trinity, Fenwick, Nazareth Academy, Wolcott, GCE Lab School, Beacon Academy, and OPRF were able to join us. Parents learned about admissions requirements, testing dates, and application procedures and had some of their burning questions answered. Our favorite part of the evening, however, was the panel discussion made up of Alcuin alumni who shared some of their high school experiences.
Hillary Y., class of 2016 and a senior at Trinity High School, stated she felt Alcuin prepared her more than other students because, “The expectation [at Alcuin] was so much higher and… going into Trinity was very, very seamless. I felt super prepared, and the workload was something that I didn’t have difficulty with.”
Vincent V., class of 2019, and a freshman at Nazareth Academy, stated the daily schedules at Alcuin helped him with time management. This translated to the workload in high school feeling manageable. “Going into high school, all you need to do to keep up with the work,” he said with a smile, “is to do the work.”
What makes Alcuin’s program so unique is that it incorporates both traditional Montessori philosophy and current best practices. Its design helps transition students from the Montessori classroom to a traditional high school setting with relative ease. Ellie S., Alcuin class of 2017, and a junior also at Trinity, added, “One thing that really helped me at Alcuin was time management and organization… and that transferred over to high school.”
Alcuin's 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. This ensures a full preparation for a smooth transition into high school. Our comprehensive curriculum is theme-based and encompasses mathematics, science, social studies, literature, writing, Spanish, art, theater, physical education and more.
Education should not be one size fits all. At Alcuin, we follow a philosophy proven over more than a century to discover and develop each child's interests and talents and prepare them to excel in the next level of education and beyond. It's no surprise that a large percentage of our graduates take advanced placement and honors courses in high school. We invited you to come and visit the Roosevelt Campus and see for yourself.
Throughout the school year, we hold various Institute Days where classes are closed, and our faculty and staff come in for a full day. What is the purpose of our Institute Days? For the faculty and staff, it’s additional time for everyone to discuss school-wide events, work on conference reports, freshen up our environments, and plan and prepare curriculum for the upcoming months, but Institute Days also serve to reconnect as a community professionally and personally.
Often during Institute Days, we have professional development for everyone. In the past, we've had talks about food allergies, gender, childhood development, and social media—to name a few topics. These discussions not only serve as a springboard for more in-depth conversations but also to keep teachers abreast of current topics in order to better serve the children.
Institute Days also give time for intra-level connections. Coworkers who may not have an opportunity to interact during the school day have time to chat and build relationships on these days. They discuss new ideas and bounce them off one another, seek guidance or advice. All of this affords everyone time to see things from different points of view or another classroom level. It’s all about growth and maintaining perspective.
However, in between all the serious bits, we also make room for some good old-fashioned fun. Today, our teachers competed in a fast and furious game of Hot Potato (or rather, Hot Donut!) They also had a highly contested relay race—and let it be known that our very pregnant teachers are not afraid to out-run their competition. We also take moments to celebrate and acknowledge our amazing staff, from birthday cake to compliments during circle time.
When the children return on Monday, the teachers and staff will eagerly receive them happy to share new ideas and thoughts. And little will the children know that only a few days prior, their teachers were involved in a cut-throat game of Hot Potato.
A blog by various Alcuin staff members.