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Private Elementary School in Chicago

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The South Side School, Chicago:
The South Side School is an affordable independent elementary school with a Waldorf-inspired curriculum near Chicago's Loop in the vibrant urban environment of East Pilsen and we are happy to serve Lower West Side, Pilsen and South Side communities. We draw on an 90-year-old teaching tradition that engages the "whole child" - intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically - in time with the natural developmental stages of childhood. We are focused not simply on the college your child will attend, but rather the person your child will become: curious, compassionate, self-reliant. We are a new elementary school in Chicago, whose curriculum is inspired by Waldorf education.

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We teach our children in the deepest manner possible, allowing lessons to become fully incorporated into the individual. Children learn math, science, geography, literature and two foreign languages. All students are taught singing, a musical instrument, drawing, painting, woodworking, and hand crafts.

About Us:

In 2006, several parents of preschoolers attending the City Garden Early Childhood Center in Pilsen had the idea to found a new school. Watching their three and four-year-olds, the parents could already see how Waldorf education sparks the imagination. As they weighed elementary school options, the parents did not want that spark to extinguish. They formed a board of directors, created a budget, and set a start date.

Today, our board includes parents of children at two Waldorf early childhood centers, as well as advisors and educators from the Chicago Waldorf School and the Chicagoland's greater Waldorf community.

Our Mission:

The South Side School brings Waldorf-inspired elementary education to the vibrant urban environment south of the Chicago Loop. Guided by the principles of Rudolf Steiner, we believe that education must engage the whole child - hands, heart, and head - as he or she passes through the distinct developmental stages of childhood. To foster creativity, our curriculum integrates practical skills, artistic experience, and academic discipline.

Our students will develop self-reliance, flexibility, and compassion. Devoted teachers will plant the seeds for students to grow into free-thinking, caring adults who can make meaningful contributions to society. We aspire to reflect our city's racial, ethnic, socio-economic, and religious diversity.

Education Programs:

- Elementary School program
- Lower School program
- Middle School program

* Our curriculum includes Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Spanish, Chinese, Language Arts, Social Studies, Fine Arts, Music, Movement, Handwork and Outdoor play.
* In the Waldorf tradition, we intend for our classroom teacher to remain with the class until the children reach 8th grade.

Uniqueness of a Waldorf Education:

Photo of Private Elementary School in ChicagoThe uniqueness in a Waldorf education can be found mainly in how and when the students are taught-not in what they are taught. First comes the experience of the subject and from this experience comes the understanding of the concept. This genuine learning process, from perception to feeling to idea, is the basis for later abstract and intellectual learning. We teach our children in the deepest manner possible, allowing lessons to become fully incorporated into the individual.

Waldorf education strives to educate the full range of human potentialities within children. In a Waldorf school, the practical and artistic subjects play as important a role as the full range of traditional subjects that the school offers. All students learn to read and to write clearly as well as focusing on their handwriting and cursive writing. They learn math, science, geography, literature and two foreign languages. All students are taught singing, a musical instrument, drawing, painting, woodworking, and hand crafts. Children garden and have extended outdoor time as well as movement classes.


Image of Private Elementary School in ChicagoWhy should I choose The South Side School?
Our school was recently founded by a group of motivated parents. We hope you'll send your child here for the same reasons we do. The South Side School is a new school that's "old school," which is to say that it's a lot like the schools we attended as children. Our students learn art, music, and physical education. They go outside for recess-and a nice long recess, with time to explore, socialize, and get swept up in a fantasy. Because our curriculum follows the natural development of children, we don't push academics too soon. That means no homework while dinner is simmering and children should be blowing off steam. Perhaps most of all, the South Side School is a community that believes first and foremost that children should love learning.

How does this school differ from public schools?

Our school is not restrained by government regulations. We as parents have been dismayed to see that No Child Left Behind has resulted in long school days with little or no recess, homework in kindergarten and first grade, and the elimination of art and music as part of the daily curriculum. The South Side School puts love of learning first, and we recognize that students love learning when there is balance between academics and the arts, between the head and hands and heart, between schoolwork and good, old-fashioned outdoor play.

What kind of training do Waldorf teachers have?

Waldorf teachers have bachelors, and sometimes masters, degrees, as well as full certification from a Waldorf teacher training program. All South Side School teachers will have Waldorf certification.

What is it like to attend school outside of your neighborhood?

Chicagoans send their children to schools all over the city. That means your child will have friends from all over the city. But that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be driving all over the city for playdates. We offer plenty of outdoor play time, when children can socialize on their own terms. School festivals also offer children and their families time to come together regularly as a community. For those concerned about the drive, we are searching for sites near the 90/94 and 55 expressways, making our school convenient to neighborhoods on Chicago's Loop and West and South sides.

Will aftercare be available?

We cannot yet say if aftercare will be provided. Once we have a sense of demand, we will plan accordingly.

How is reading taught in Waldorf schools?

Waldorf schools do not rush literacy. The schools teach reading in a deeply integrated manner: building comprehension first, by engaging children orally through stories, then engaging the children physically through art and writing, and finally by engaging them visually through reading what they've written.

Teachers enthrall their young students with folktales, myths, rhymes and puppet shows. These stories are not merely entertainment for the children; the teachers are giving children the gift of living language. Rather than reading the stories, teachers tell them from memory, and they change and flow as all oral traditions do. Stories are repeated many times, and the children are exposed to a wide and changing vocabulary--one of the cornerstones of reading.

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Address: Pilsen, 920 W 19th St , Chicago, Illinois , USA
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