Our elementary school approach cultivates your child’s inquisitive mind, allowing them to take on challenges and preparing them to thrive in academics and life.

Children in elementary school develop critical thinking skills through a creative, joyful learning experience that’s driven by their natural interests.

Elementary school at Cardinal Bernardin Montessori Academy is a program that inspires wonder, awe and a desire to learn deeply. Led by their own stimulated interests and skill levels, children explore concepts in greater depth than most other educational models allow.

Freedom with Responsibility

By giving students the freedom to explore concepts in-depth in a practical context and to hone their critical-thinking skills, Montessori students are more than prepared to take on the rigors of high school and higher education.

As Chicago’s only Catholic Montessori elementary school, our students also embark on the next phase of their education with compassion, respect for self and others, and a desire to make the world a better place.

Equipping children to think for themselves

In the Montessori approach, we intentionally begin elementary school at age 6, the age at which children have finished creating themselves as individual entities and are entering a new stage of development. At this time, the child’s mind has matured to reasoning and thinking in new ways. While younger children desire for us to “teach me to do it myself,” elementary-age children want us to “teach me to think for myself.”

In elementary school, children move toward abstract ideas—and language helps them do that. That’s why we change our focus from sensory learning to discovering the cosmos. Children are now able to think about things they cannot see using their imaginations, from faraway planets to microscopic organisms. We focus on telling great stories with key ideas and concepts that develop the child’s interest so he or she wants to learn more about these things.

Our key stories encompass a big-picture philosophy, sparking the child’s very active imagination and reasoning to understand the universe. We tell these stories with drama to inspire awe and present the array of academic subjects as fully interrelated—including mathematics, geometry, language, history, geography, biology, art and music.

The “Story of Numbers,” for instance, begins with the large historical picture and sparks appreciation for those who helped develop the numbers we use today. We develop a sense of continuity and interdependence with the rest of human history and facilitate an appreciation for those unknown people who have made our present state of human civilization possible.

These stories inspire and foster gratitude for the Creator, the creation of humanity and the contributions of those who came before us. We inspire children to think about how they can contribute to the advancement of humankind.

Children want to become a part of these stories and fill in the details through exploration. They love to be challenged at this age, and we give them the freedom to follow their own interests as they explore these concepts.

Limitless learning

At Cardinal Bernardin Montessori Academy, there are no limits to a child’s learning. Education is process-oriented, not product-oriented. We help children understand their world, think critically and go deep into subjects. We don’t require children to simply complete a one-page worksheet or write a two-page paper. Each child is encouraged to explore concepts as deep as they wish to go.

Your child could read for hours on a subject that means a lot to him or her. When children are learning about measurement, they could work on basic measurements, or they could measure something like a football field if they choose. At the Academy, children have the freedom to go deep in whatever they are learning.

For instance, a 6-year-old who enjoys math could work ahead with older children and tackle something like dividing a 6-digit number by a 4-digit number. Children who are encouraged in their interests are very excited about the challenges they are taking on.

Without limits, our students thrive.

Grades 7-8

Since being founded as a Catholic Montessori school for very young children, we have grown significantly over the past 20 years, allowing us to serve pre-k, kindergarten and elementary school children up to Grade 6.

Our strategic plans include adding Grade 7 in 2021 and Grade 8 in 2022.