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Chiaravalle Montessori

I personally like the approach but realized that it is not right for every child. I do worry a bit about taking a child like Cole and putting him into an environment that is so consistent with his current style. On one hand, he could fit right in and really excel here. On the other hand, it may not stretch him to adapt... or more evilly conform to a school and learning style that is more consistent with mainstream public education. It might not be important.. what I don't know is how successfully do these kids transition into other schools.

Director

Nancy Kramer. She is always on it when I call. She remembers who I am (or pretends well)Eye-wink and Cole’s info.

Location

It is about a 5 minute drive from the house.

Timing

Classes meet 2 days a week from 9:45 to 11:45. They also have 3 day and 5 day. They are thinking of getting rid of the 2 day version since the kids seem to have a harder time adjusting. They don’t like giving the kid too many days off from school in a row.

Ages

They have two classes for 2 year olds but there classes go well into grammar school so small children are not their sole clientelle.

Structure

They have open play/activities from 9:45 to 10:45, then gym play, then clean up, circle time and bye-bye.

Activities

The class is about exploring at your own pace. There are various stations (not overtly so) set up around the room and the kids choose which station they want to play in. It is very homey with big adult-sized chairs, lights, a kitchen, etc. They do have an art corner as well, but the kids are not forced to do any one thing (they can stay playing with the same toy the entire time). Most of the toys are educational toys and wooden e.g. lots of blocks, peg boards, counting machines, etc. (disproportionately more than the other schools). The teachers then intentionally rotate new toys in to introduce new concepts. It was amazing to watch the children—they were like little adults with self-directed play. The room is very large and provides a lot of space for the kids to walk around. It is very calm and chill—not chaotic and dynamic like a lot of the other places. It is definitely a more educational feel. You definitely can't be a very wild child in my opinion…. (by the way, the room was set up as an observation room—one way glass. Oh my! Intense!) I would say this is more for a cerebral child.

Teachers

The teachers all have college degrees. All the lead teachers are required to be trained in the Montessori approach and serve as an intern for 1 year. (Midwest Montessori is one of the teaching schools and it is here in Evanston). The assistants are typically interns. The ratio is great—2 or 3 teachers for 10 or 12 kids. The parents seem to be very involved in the whole educational experience. They do work with the teachers on the transition program that is right for their specific child.

Type of education

Montessori e.g. the child would say "Teacher, I want to learn about xxx."

Food

They have snacks that the school provides. Today was goldfish and apples.

Outing

They have a gym and an outdoor play center.

Overall Feel

The school has so many windows. It is incredibly bright and welcoming. It also feels very educational and less fun than other schools.

Fundraising

They really expect the parents to get involved. They do gift wrap, auctions, etc. They also require 14 hours of volunteering by the parents in a year.

I went to montessori schools

I went to montessori schools for preschool (2-5) and junior high (12-14) and have nothing but praise for the system. I specifically think children of those two ages stand to benefit. (we had the one-way glass in my preschool too)

Also Chris's friend nicole is doing montessori training. Maybe she would be a good person to talk to if you're considering this school but having questions about the approach.

Cole will have plenty of opportunities to learn to conform in life, there's no need to seek them out.