Council Oak Montessori School is taking big steps to shorten the gap between home and school.

At 8:30 AM on March 30th, 2020 Council Oak Montessori School returned to their classrooms – virtually.

Once the decision to close school due to COVID-19 concerns was made, and shortly thereafter mandated by the Governor of Illinois, Council Oak Montessori School’s (COMS) administration put into place immediate steps to prepare for online schooling.

“This is not homeschooling, rather it is school at home,” says Lila Jokanovic, the Head of School. “We do not expect our families to now teach their children in addition to bringing their offices home. Some adjustments will have to be made – with our guidance – to prepare a space in the home reflective of the learning spaces the student’s are used to, but the charge of administering the Montessori curriculum will continue to be with our teachers. In making our plan we have stayed true to our philosophy, our pedagogy, and our commitment to our community.”

When faced with the unique challenge of translating the essence of Council Oak Montessori School onto a digital platform, the administration and staff had to create a plan that honored the heart and soul of the school.

Certain characteristics that define Council Oak helped shape the plan – beginning with an intrinsic commitment to community. Through daily check-ins with students and their families, COMS maintains supportive and close connections.

In choosing the online platforms that would best serve the school as a whole, it was important to find something that allowed the students to interact with their lessons in a familiar way- albeit remotely. Daily, COMS students and adults have the opportunity to interact with their community at large – from their classmates and teachers to the head of school and support staff, and even the school pets.

Student learning continues to happen on a daily basis through school-provided materials, supplies and online engagement. Safe outdoor time is included in each teacher’s daily lesson plan, encouraging time in fresh air, movement, and engagement in a focused activity . Teachers have daily office hours for their students and families to check in – whether it is for a visit or with specific questions regarding assignments. Students will also continue with their enrichment activities such as yoga and mindfulness, music and farm-to-table.

Materials and lessons have been designed to allow for the maximum amount of independence, even in our youngest students – just like at school. Additionally, a very important part of our planning as COMS moved school online was to make sure that families continued to get support and guidance from teachers and school leaders – whether it be ideas on how to juggle constant parenting with their work responsibilities or how to assist their children in processing their current emotions.

“I have really been taking my lead from our students in navigating this unexpected turn in our school year,” says Jokanovic. “Our Montessori students are conscious of their responsibility both to themselves and to their classroom community. They learn to be leaders and change makers and to proactively contribute towards the benefit of all. We teach students to recognize their fears and resolve their differences by becoming engaged and responsible community members. Every staff member at Council Oak has risen to the challenges of this endeavor with grace, creativity, good humor and a high level of professionalism. We reflect the children we have the good fortune to work with every day.”

The school community looks forward to getting back into their physical classrooms when it is safe to do so – to perform the school play, honor their eighth graders and prepare for the new school year starting in September.

To learn more about COMS please explore our website, our social media, and give Dave a call at 708-926-9720.

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