A Montessori education sees the child, not as an empty bucket waiting to be filled with knowledge, but rather as a unique human being who most often has accurate instincts about what he or she needs in order to grow and to learn. Montessori school children undertake ambitious studies of their own initiative, show immense pride upon the completion of a project, and are eager to show what they have learned to others.
Our mission is to support each child’s emerging intellect and nurture his or her human spirit. The Forest Bluff educational environment fosters self-discipline through the opportunity to exercise freedom appropriate to the child’s developing sense of responsibility. As such, our students exhibit strong character, perseverance, integrity and respect for others, as well as a passion for life itself.
Forest Bluff School maintains that child development is not linear but occurs in four distinct “planes” of approximately six years each. During each plane, the child possesses individual characteristics and needs best suited by a specific environment and supportive, well-trained adult. Children remain in the same classroom for approximately three years, allowing close and trusting relationships to develop.
Over the years, I have repeatedly and successfully identified students with a Montessori background. Beyond their impressive creativity and unique intellectual curiosity, I see students from the Forest Bluff School consistently demonstrate a self-awareness that reveals an underlying emotional maturity central to being a healthy young adult. In my experience, this rare integration of intellect and emotion is a distinguishing trait of Forest Bluff students.
Matthew Dewar, Ed.D., Faculty, Lake Forest High School
I admire the academic environment Forest Bluff has created where children develop inquiring minds matched with a set of critical thinking research skills that helps them to dig deep into a topic and uncover excellent questions for discussion with professionals. I really like the process by which the children set up such visits where they make direct contact with the professional they want to meet and then organize all aspects of such visit themselves, including the itinerary and travel details. These students project a natural confidence, courteous manners, and an infectious enthusiasm for learning that makes spending time with them such a professional pleasure.
Shubhik DebBurman, PhD, Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, Lake Forest College
As I am now finishing up my second year of a Ph.D. program in Inorganic Chemistry, I have found myself thinking of my Montessori education often. I honestly think that it was my time at Forest Bluff that prepared me more for my current position of a full-time researcher than any of my years in high school and college. Because what do I do all day in the lab? I think of experiments to do that seek to answer a key question that I am interested in. It is up to me every day to figure out what I want to do, ask older lab members and post-docs for help, and think deeply about what I observe. These are exactly the skills that Montessori equipped me with: independence, curiosity, integrity, resourcefulness, perseverance.
Claire Cody, Alumna
Forest Bluff has had an unparalleled impact on my life—from my interactions, to my self-motivated learning, to the connection I feel toward the outdoors. I just finished my first freshman quarter at Northwestern University and was reflecting only days ago on how my time at FBS not only enhanced my education and social skills, but also gave me lasting and, hopefully, lifelong friendships. Something about growing up and attending school in a close-knit environment free of technology, substance-abuse, and other common but degrading elements of middle school fostered an invaluable sense of friendship and camaraderie in its purest form. Forest Bluff has given me so many life-changing experiences, like a night sleeping outside with no tent, gazing up at a star-filled sky on a frigid Minnesota night, or the chance to pursue academic topics of my choosing—The Fall of Rome and Great Lakes Contamination to name a few. I’m truly grateful for the experiences I’ve had at Forest Bluff School.
Liam Hubbard, Alumnus
As parents at Forest Bluff School, we became educated in the Montessori system and gradually saw with our own eyes the effects of Dr. Montessori's unadulterated methods put to practice. Our son learned from a very early start the importance of independent thought, collaborative study, and an ability to see the world through inquisitive eyes. He went from Forest Bluff to one of country’s finest prep schools, then to one of the country’s most exclusive universities, and then finished in one of the top law schools. Of course, a child’s innate abilities, the home environment, and other external factors all play a role, but the channeling of this talent and the harvesting of this ability all happened in the four walls of that wonderful school, Forest Bluff.
Shahab Fatheazam, Parent
A Premier AMI Accredited Montessori School
“Perseverance, Risk, Trust, Independence, Leadership, Responsibility, Friendship.” These are the words chosen by students at their recent graduation ceremony to describe their years at Forest Bluff School. What kind of 14-year-olds could stand before parents, friends and classmates and share their most intimate thoughts and assessments about the whole of their education from its earliest years as two-year-olds to the present? And how could they do so with such ease, confidence, humor and obvious enthusiasm for life and learning? To answer these two questions is to understand both Forest Bluff School and traditional Montessori school education.
Forest Bluff fostered a love and fascination for learning that has helped me tremendously in high school. With my strong Montessori foundation, I can connect concepts on my own, which helps me understand material and makes learning more fun.
Curiosity is an important and powerful force at any age. In my experience, there isn't a better environment than Forest Bluff to allow a child's curiosity to thrive, helping them to want to learn and be positive, contributing members of their community.
Lake Bluff, Illinois
The invaluable life skills our children acquired at Forest Bluff – work ethic, time management, leadership, collaboration, empathy, confidence, and respect for others – have had a profound impact on their success.
Connie and Tom Duckworth
Lake Forest, Illinois
In my 15 years of teaching, some of the best English students I have encountered have been Forest Bluff alumni. Their drive and excitement about learning, reading, and writing remained a constant.
Head of School,
Cardinal Gibbons High School
Former English Dept. Chair,
Lake Forest Academy