The Montessori Method
Montessori is a unique, child-centered approach to learning based on the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori. It emphasizes the complete development of a child – academically, emotionally, socially, and physically – through individualized instruction guided by the child’s own interests.
In a Montessori school, children learn by working independently with the many materials available in the classroom. Children progress according to their developmental stage and needs with support from teachers. Within the boundaries of order and respect, children have the freedom to explore their environment.
Montessori teachers are required to undergo a certification program in which they study Montessori philosophy and child development. Moreover, they receive thorough instruction and training about how to present each of the special materials used in a Montessori classroom to their students. At Unity Academy of Chicago, our head teachers are fully certified and qualified to lead the classroom.
The Montessori teacher facilitates classroom activity while allowing students to pursue their passions and develop their natural love for learning. The teacher carefully prepares the classroom and guides students from one activity to the next. After observing and assessing each child’s ability and unique interests, she presents developmentally appropriate lessons in the classical subject areas, namely, Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Language, and Cultural Studies.
Each classroom environment has a head teacher and an assistant. The head teacher is fully responsible for guiding the children and observing them. In addition, there is often a third teacher present to facilitate Quran/Arabic learning.
The Montessori Classroom
The Montessori classroom is arranged with the child in mind. It is neatly organized with sensory materials and tools specially designed to promote a hands-on approach to learning. All furniture is child-sized to promote their sense of independence and self-confidence.
A mixed age level classroom provides advantages to the students for many reasons. Younger students observe and learn from the older students while older students demonstrate empathy and leadership skills in assisting the younger students. As with siblings, working closely with others who are not of the same age promotes bonds of brotherhood while cultivating valuable social skills.
The Montessori method uses little or no electronic technology as part of the educational experience for the student. The early developmental period is a sensory time when the child can better gather information through concrete experiences. In the Elementary program, students have moderate access to technology for research purposes. Additionally, the Quran/Arabic teacher may utilize technology to assist students in correctly learning Arabic pronunciation and for memorizing Quran.
The Montessori Child
Montessori methods inculcate the qualities of independence, self-discipline, concentration, and a joy for learning in a child. Montessori children are known for their ability to adapt to different situations. Because they are encouraged to make decisions from the start, they become confident problem-solvers. Their experience with older and younger classmates equips them with good communication skills and the qualities of empathy and leadership.
Yes, we require our students to be fully trained by the start of the school year. In emergency situations, our teaching staff is available to provide assistance.
The Daily Routine
Upon arrival, children are welcomed by a teacher. After putting their bag and outdoor shoes away, they assemble for recitation of the Quran and supplications. They sit down for line time where the teacher engages them with stories, anecdotes, and reflections. Children then have a work period with the teacher guiding and presenting lessons to individuals or small groups. They concentrate on works from different areas of the classroom including Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, and Cultural Studies. Children also receive individual or small group Quran and Arabic instruction during the work period. They are free to help themselves to a prepared healthy snack at any time in the morning. In the Primary class, after the morning work period, half-day students are dismissed, and the remaining students have a break for lunch and recess. Our full-day students continue with another work cycle in the afternoon while younger students take a nap. Similarly, in the Elementary class, there is an afternoon work period following a break for prayer, lunch, and recess. The day concludes with cleaning and rearranging the prepared environment.
In order to facilitate a smooth flow of learning for the child, our Montessori programs are offered for five consecutive days. A child taken in and out of school does not have the same advantage of pursuing their budding interests.
Students take turns bringing in healthy snacks to share with their class. Allergy or other dietary restrictions should be communicated at the time of registration. For the convenience of our parents and to provide healthy meals to our children, we have arranged an optional school lunch program.
Islamic Mindset and Curriculum
Our students have daily lessons in Quran and Arabic. Our qualified teacher assesses each child at the start of the year and then works with each child individually and in small groups based on ability. In the Primary program, parents can expect their children to memorize several chapters of the Quran and gain letter recognition while making progress towards reading the Quran. They also learn basic Arabic vocabulary. In the Elementary Program, children work towards fluent reading, memorization of additional chapters, and building a foundation for comprehension.
In keeping with the Montessori philosophy, Unity Academy of Chicago nurtures the spiritual development of our students. Religious instruction is based on guidance from the Glorious Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (s) and his pure family (as). We strive to develop an Islamic mindset by integrating values and practices in each student’s works and routines. This approach enhances the traditional Montessori approach for a more wholesome education of the child.
Yes, Unity Academy of Chicago follows a rolling admissions schedule. This means that we are able to accept an age appropriate child into our classroom at any time during the year, provided there is still an available spot. Because the Montessori method is individualized, new students will be able to easily adapt to the classroom environment with minimal disruption to our current students. Tuition will be prorated for new students.
Our school is committed to adding a new grade each year through the final year of Upper Elementary, which corresponds to sixth grade. In pursuit of our mission, our school board is actively developing plans beyond sixth grade.
Unity Academy of Chicago welcomes all interested families to apply for admission regardless of their ability to pay the full tuition. Our school offers financial aid to assist families in making education affordable. Financial assistance may vary in amount and is based on the need or financial status of the family, the number of requests received, and the amount of financial aid funds that are available for a given school year. Financial aid may be applied for at any time before or after the admissions process. To ensure complete privacy, we use a third-party organization called BeneFAQ to help us accurately and fairly assess a family’s ability to pay.