What makes Intercultural special?
At Intercultural, students learn a second language from their native speaking teachers. Our teachers are the heart and soul of our school. They come from around the world and share their cultures as well as their language with our students. Intercultural is fully accredited by the American Montessori Society.
What credentials do your teachers have?
Our school is accredited through the American Montessori Society. As such, our teachers are certified and hold credentials that align with their guidance. All of our Lead Teachers have their Montessori certification, or are completing the process and most of them hold 4-year college degrees or Master degrees as well. Our Elementary teachers are also state certified, along with holding the appropriate Montessori credentials.
What is your student: teacher ratio?
For our Little Apples program (2 and 3-year-olds) the ratio is 8:1 or better. In Early Childhood (Preschool – Kindergarten) the ratio is 12:1 or better. In our Elementary program the ratio could be as high as 15:1 but typically is lower and averages 10:1.
If my child does not get accepted, is there a waiting list?
For our Little Apples program (2 and 3-year-olds) and Early Childhood (Preschool – Kindergarten) programs, families join the waiting pool if there is no space available. We are often able to offer a second choice language program or location. Our aim is not to keep families waiting for long periods. However, we need to ensure that student: teacher ratios are maintained, the classrooms are well balanced, and that we are offering a great experience to all students. Enrollment can change quickly. We do our best to communicate as often and clearly as we’re able.
Our Elementary and Middle School programs are highly selective. Students may not be offered a space in the Elementary program if there is limited space or if the Admissions team and teachers feel it is not a good fit.
Is financial aid available?
At this time, Intercultural offers aid to families after they’ve enrolled for one full academic year. We use an outside independent service called FAST (Financial Aid for School Tuition) to determine financial awards. Eligibility is based on need and is determined by several factors, including income, assets, the number of children at tuition-paying institutions, etc. The Board’s Finance Committee approves financial awards, as the budget allows, based on the FAST recommendations. The financial aid application process and awards are confidential.
How do students learn the language?
Our Early Childhood (Preschool – Kindergarten) program is immersive. Both the teacher and the assistant are native speakers of the target language. Children learn to read, write, and speak in Chinese, Japanese, or Spanish. In our Early Childhood classrooms, the teachers introduce English literacy in the afternoons. The immersive nature of the classroom aligns with the sensitive period for language learning in young children. Our Lower Elementary program (1st – 3rd grade) is a 50/50 dual language program with an English teacher and a target language teacher in the classroom.
Do you have a choice of language for 2-year-olds?
Our Little Apples program is a language exploration program. Currently, our teachers are native Spanish speakers, therefore the program is immersive in Spanish. In the future, we may have a Japanese or Chinese teacher and they would speak their native language. It is helpful for us to understand which language program you are most interested in when you enroll in Little Apples but it’s also a good opportunity for families to think more before deciding.
How much outdoor time / gym time do the children have each day?
Gross motor movement and time outdoors are important parts of child development in the Montessori tradition. Everyday that weather permits, teachers take students for 30 minutes of outdoor time at the park. In Oak Park, students use the outdoor playground. In Chicago, students play at Skinner park and at our indoor playground, The Dock. Each Elementary classroom also has physical education as part of their curriculum.
What is the lunch program and how much does it cost?
In Chicago and Oak Park, our hot lunch provider is Gourmet Gorilla. The food is not strictly organic but it is fresh and popular among students and staff.
What types of extracurricular activities are provided?
We offer two 10-week sessions of extracurricular activities each school year. Extracurricular activities are led by outside providers. Some examples are: robotics, soccer, chess, Chicago Children’s Theatre. Intercultural also partners with the Merit School of Music who offer optional private lessons for piano, guitar, or violin.