Editor's note: This story is part of the 2012 Winter Education and Enrichment Guide, a special advertising section produced by Wednesday Journal. Click here to view the entire 2012 Winter Education Guide.
Children come from far and wide to KeystoneMontessori, a school that has gained the reputation as one of the country's premier Montessori schools. "The beauty of Montessori education is that it takes into consideration the whole child," says Vicki Shea, Keystone's administrative coordinator. "The physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of children are nurtured as well as their academic development and each child is respected as an individual with unique abilities."
If you're wondering what Montessori education is all about, it's based on the teachings of Maria Montessori, Italy's first woman doctor who went on to become a renowned educator. From her observations of the natural development of children, she believed that a child's independence, self-esteem and love of learning could flourish, given the right environment and with guidance from a properly trained teacher. Today, 100 years later, there are Montessori schools all over the world.
Keystone has a class for two-year olds, primary classes for 3-6 year olds, junior elementary classes for 6-9 year olds, senior elementary classes for 9-12 year olds and a middle school. There are parent/infant classes also. One of the hallmarks of Montessori education is grouping together children of different ages. "In this way children learn from each other," says Shea. "It also helps the older children learn a sense of responsibility toward the younger ones." Children learn by working with specially designed 'materials' in an age-appropriate environment which stimulates the senses and encourages exploration. The children are busy, each one involved in doing something either individually or in small groups. In one of the primary classrooms a three-year old is mopping the floor, and a five-year old is counting with a bead chain. In the junior elementary classroom a student is researching snakes and in another part of the room, a group of students is analyzing the grammatical parts of a sentence with the teacher. "Many of Montessori's observations about how children learn have been borne out by recent research showing that children have windows in their development when they can best absorb things like language, music and math," explains Shea. The school is proud of its consistently high academic achievement but places great emphasis on helping children become well-rounded, responsible members of society.
Keystone Montessori is holding an Open House on Sunday, January 22, 2-4 pm. The school is located at 7415 W. North Ave., River Forest. 708/366-1080.