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The educational philosophy at Ronald Knox is based upon the research and work of Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian-born educator and the first woman physician in Italy. Fundamental to her approach is the idea that children must have freedom, achieved through order and self-discipline, in order to develop to their full potential. We are committed to inspiring our children to be conscientious, noble stewards of our world.

The following characteristics of the Montessori education foster the Ronald Knox mission:

Integrated Curriculum

Sometimes referred to as the "whole child" approach, Montessori's holistic curriculum features activities and materials that promote physical, emotional, social and intellectual development.

Mixed Age Groupings

The three-year age span in each Early Childhood classroom (ages 3-6) creates a cooperative learning environment that fosters multi-age friendships and conversations. In this family-like setting, older children gain self-esteem by assisting and guiding the younger children, while they, in turn, benefit from the availability of older and wiser role models.

Process over Product

The Montessori classroom is process-driven rather than product-oriented. Materials and activities are carefully prepared to allow children to follow a complete work cycle, thus enabling them to achieve a sense of completion and achievement, the key elements to the development of intrinsic motivation and self-confidence.

Development of Discipline and Independence

Children are encouraged to work independently, becoming self-directed learners. Large blocks of uninterrupted time allow children to explore their environment, while making decisions and managing their time well. This fosters self-confidence, self-discipline and independence in later life.

Social Development

One of the major goals in our educational setting is to learn to live in harmony with each other. Children are expected to respect their peers and teachers as they interact, support and work productively towards the common goal. At RKMS, the ability to learn to live in peace within a community is greatly valued. Children pattern their social behavior after adults and "leading by example" plays a critical role in our classrooms and throughout our community.

Spontaneous Activity in the Educational Process

Since each child is at a different point developmentally, the children are given the freedom to learn at their own pace and in their own style. There are no set academic goals for age levels; instead, the Directress observes each child and provides materials specific to their skill-level and interests.

These qualities result in active, self-directed learning that strikes a balance between individual mastery and small group collaboration.

The Montessori Classroom

The Montessori classroom is set up in several specific areas – Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math, Science, Geography and Art. The colors are purposely natural and subdued. The materials, not the decorations, are meant to draw the attention of the child. Each area and its materials are designed with a specific aim for the development of the child.

Practical Life

Materials in the Practical Life area of the classroom are taken from a child’s daily life. Here he or she might pursue activities such as setting the table, flower arranging, preparing a snack, polishing a mirror or learning to use screws and screwdrivers. The goal is to assist the child in acquiring the ability to care for self, others and the environment, as well as developing independence, concentration and a sense of order.


The Sensorial area of the classroom has manipulative materials to help the child learn through his or her senses. Each of the Sensorial materials isolates one particular quality such as color, weight, shape, texture, size, sound and smell. The materials help children refine their senses so they can sort out their many different impressions and better understand and adapt to the physical world.

After working their way through the Practical Life and Sensorial areas, children will move to the other areas but will also continue to return to these areas throughout the three years spent in the Montessori Early Childhood classroom to reinforce their learning, to feel competent, to explore in greater depth or to teach a younger child.


The Mathematics area of the classroom is designed to help children develop a logically ordered mind. The materials have been developed to teach children abstraction, numeration, place value, problem solving and other math functions.

Like the decimal system, most of the materials used in the Montessori classroom are based on units of ten. By working with the materials, children gain an understanding of our numeral system. For example, the child might begin by working with a set of ten numbered rods of graduating length. The child learns to order the rods according to their size. This exercise teaches the child the concept of quantity.

Once this basic concept is established, sandpaper numbers are introduced. By tracing the numbers, the child learns how they are formed. Soon, the child is able to link the concepts together – i.e. these rods are equal to a numeric value represented by this symbol.

As the child’s understanding grows, the math materials used in the classroom become increasingly more complex and eventually, he or she is able to work with abstractions.


The Language area of the classroom is designed to help a child learn to communicate effectively. The activities and materials found here promote oral and written expression. Through tools like our sandpaper letters, children are introduced to letter forms and the sounds they make. They learn to combine sounds to form words and then combine words to form sentences. Eventually, the child develops skills necessary to express his or her thoughts in writing.


The Music program at RKMS features learning through active involvement so a child learns body awareness, balance and tracking. Once a week, a trained music instructor comes to the school to conduct music classes for the children in the Primary program. The children are exposed to a wide variety of musical styles. Singing, dancing and exploring rhythm and movement are all part of the program. The music instructor also comes to the school once a week for the Toddler program.

In the classroom, the children have an opportunity to work with bells to sharpen and refine their listening skills. These Montessori teaching materials help to develop and refine the child’s auditory sense, train the musical ear and develop awareness of musical notes and scales.

In addition to a music room, RKMS has a well-equipped gross motor classroom and playground. Physical activities are designed to provide enjoyment, encourage a healthy lifestyle and to promote the development of gross motor skills.

Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology & Astronomy

Other subjects are integrated in the Montessori classroom and intended to provide a logical approach to gathering information and problem solving. Some of the materials that the children encounter include maps, timelines, plant and animal life, magnets and gemstones. These materials offer children a sound introduction to botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, geology and astronomy.


We are proud to be designated a

Level 10 School

by the American Montessori Society. This means that we have achieved the highest ranking—actual accreditation—within the Montessori community. Participation in the Pathway process sends a signal to the community that we are committed to best practices and ongoing improvement.

Ronald Knox Montessori School is fully accredited by the American Montessori Society (AMS). The accreditation process is a rigorous, ongoing program that the school undertakes voluntarily. Accreditation means that Ronald Knox has met or exceeded standards.

  • defining appropriate educational goals and providing educational programs to achieve them    
  • maintaining a qualified faculty and an effective school organization 
  • assessing outcomes of school experiences and controlling the quality of educational programs
  • responding to concerns of parents and needs of the school community
  • providing for the continuity of its programs and planning for their future
  • describing with accuracy the content of its services and programs
  • developing plans and activities for continuous school improvement

 For more information on AMS school accreditation, please visit www.amshq.org

Associations & Affiliations

American Montessori Society (AMS)

The American Montessori Society (AMS) is the foremost advocate for quality Montessori education, an innovative, child-centered approach to learning. AMS sets the high professional standards that inform Montessori education as practiced in AMS-accredited schools and taught in AMS-affiliated teacher education programs.

A not-for-profit organization based in New York City, with nearly 13,000 members worldwide, AMS is also a hub of all things Montessori: an information center for its members, the media, and the public; a voice in the public policy arena; and a mobilizing force for the global Montessori community, through support services, research, and professional development events. AMS is a vibrant community of schools, teachers, families, and others determined to make Montessori a strong and positive force in education. RKMS follows the mission of AMS.

North American Montessori Teachers’ Association (NAMTA)

Founded in 1970, the North American Montessori Teachers' Association links Montessorians with their legacy and their future. Its services include print publications, audio visuals, conferences, and research.

NAMTA documents Montessori in the public schools, helps teachers and administrators become more effective, furthers the advancement of Montessori concepts into mainstream education, and helps parents extend the Montessori environment into their homes. Ronald Knox follows the mission of NAMTA.

Independent School Management (ISM)

ISM is dedicated to the advancement of school management. They provide creative strategies by combining extensive research, proven management techniques, and personalized service. By advancing school leadership they help enriching the student experience

Association of Illinois Montessori Schools (AIMS)

The purpose of the Association of Illinois Montessori Schools is to provide a professional organizational structure for Member Montessori Schools to: Establish and promote standards of excellence and ethical business practices; Monitor and disseminate pertinent educational legislation information; Conduct a consolidated public relations program; Act as a catalyst for harmonious interaction between members and other educational organizations; Foster appropriate prepared environments for all students.

Illinois Coalition of Non-public Schools (ICNS)

As a coalition of non-public educational groups, ICNS exist to support quality education for all children in the state, to be an advocate for non-public education in Illinois and to actively promote non-public school autonomy and parental rights.

Administration & Faculty

The Ronald Knox Montessori School faculty and staff are one of its most valuable assets. All of our lead teachers are trained and credentialed by the American Montessori Society. Some members of our faculty and staff have been with us for over twenty-five years, and one of our lead teachers is an alumnus of our school.

Who is Ronald Knox?

Ronald Knox was an English author and biblical scholar, highly regarded for his brilliant intellect, religious tolerance and especially, for his devotion to children.*

The Ronald Knox Montessori School is named after him, and was founded in 1963 by a group of parents who saw the need for a Montessori program on the North Shore of Chicago. The Sisters of Christian Charity graciously donated space, and several of the sisters have served as Directresses and members of the Board.

From the beginning, Ronald Knox has followed an authentic Montessori philosophy. The Directresses are trained in the Montessori method, and the curriculum materials are consistent with the Montessori principles of early childhood education.

* Ronald Knox Montessori School is a non-sectarian school.

2031 Elmwood Avenue

Wilmette IL 60091


We are fully accredited by the American Montessori Society.

©2018 Ronald Knox Montessori School