Year in Review 2017: Montessori School of Lake Forest educates the ‘whole child’

By Ann Jordahl, Executive Director, Montessori School of Lake Forest
as featured in the Lake Forest Leader on January 4, 2018 
View article online

Maria Montessori conceived the method of educating the “whole child” More than 100 years ago. The Montessori School of Lake Forest has been educating the “whole child” for more than 50 years.

Educating the whole child is achieved by showing students relationships between subjects to engage their natural curiosity and love of learning. At MSLF, students may choose to pursue their Montessori education beyond their classroom walls on lessons in outdoor education, organic gardening and cooking, physical education and movement and foreign languages. MSLF’s comprehensive span of learning opportunities provide students a hands-on exploration of these relationships and curiosities, structured in a manner that not only supports but enhances the work cycle of the student. 

Students learn science, social studies, history and mathematics as well as various outdoor practical life skills while working in MSLF’s outdoor classroom, 5.5 acres of natural prairie, woodlands, wetlands and grasslands. They discover relationships between natural science and math while working in the on-campus organic garden and greenhouse, new to our campus this fall. Through experience, students develop a clear understanding of the needs of the environment and the benefits of organic gardening and composting not only for their school gardens, but the environment in general. They find value in their work as they harvest healthy fruits and vegetables straight from the garden to either cook or sell. They learn about nutrition as they prepare various recipes and practice marketing and accounting as they host Friday Market, where they sell produce fresh from the MSLF garden as well as handmade recipes and goods such as student-made pottery and embroidered tea towels, muffins, jams and soups, with proceeds benefiting the outdoor education programs at MSLF.

The Physical Education program at MSLF meets the diverse needs of all students, offering younger students additional opportunities for gross motor and coordination development, as well as older students’ development of skills and exercise through a variety of activities including obstacle course training, team sports and games, and yoga. At MSLF it is understood that intelligence is built on movement. 

MSLF’s Foreign Language lessons provides students 3 years and older with instruction in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Not only do students learn to speak these languages, but they learn about Spanish and Chinese culture and history as well.

It is through the development of the “whole child” and the nurturing of the child’s natural love for learning that MSLF students are growing to be independent and successful citizens.

Montessori School of Lake Forest hosts Artist in Residence, Kathleen Warren
Montessori: Where Children Love to Learn
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