Find answers to all your frequently asked questions about City Elementary

What type of school is City Elementary?

City Elementary is an independent, not-for-profit private school serving kindergarteners through eighth graders.

What kinds of students does City Elementary serve?

City Elementary students are bright and capable, but for a variety of reasons tend to have challenges in a typical classroom setting. For many of our students, the sensory aspect of a large, bustling classroom is overwhelming and anxiety-provoking. For others the issue may be attention: larger classrooms are often full of distractions that can make it difficult for students to focus on the task at hand. Our classrooms are designed to be sensory-friendly and free of unnecessary distractors.

Many of our students benefit from movement breaks and other sensory integration supports. Our teachers and staff have access to a well-equipped sensory gym and are trained in helping students get the input they need to stay regulated and ready to learn.

Some of our students need extra support in social interactions. For this reason, social and emotional skills are a formal part of our curriculum. In addition, students are provided ample opportunities to work collaboratively with their peers. With support from teachers and staff, our students develop skills in communication, cooperation, negotiation, peaceful conflict resolution, empathy, and leadership.

Finally, our students often excel in some content areas and need additional support in others. They may vary in their preferred learning modality as well. For example, some of our students are visual learners while others learn more efficiently through a kinesthetic mode. Our individualized approach allows us to tailor the pedagogy to each student’s unique learning profile.

What is the student to teacher ratio?

Small class sizes and a low student to teacher ratio are fundamental elements of City Elementary’s approach. Class size is capped at 10 students per class with a maximum of three students per teacher.

What is the tuition?

Annual tuition is $28,000. Tuition can be paid upfront or in monthly installments.

Is financial aid available?

We are currently unable to offer financial aid.

Making City Elementary available to all families, regardless of income, is one of the school’s highest priorities. Members of our development team are actively pursuing grants and charitable gifts to support tuition assistance in the future.

If you think City Elementary may be a good fit for your child but find the tuition prohibitive, please get in touch with us so that we can follow up if financial aid becomes available.

What does a typical day look like?

At City Elementary, the day begins with Morning Movement, a systematic (and fun!) set of physical activities designed to provide our students with the kinds of sensory input that have been proven to facilitate attention and regulation.

Next, each classroom has Morning Circle. This is a valuable opportunity for students to come together as members of a classroom community. During Morning Circle, the teacher orients the students to the day and provides an overview of their schedule. The teacher also provides a brief lesson during Morning Circle and the students work collaboratively to solve a problem. Finally, Morning Circle provides an opportunity for students to share anecdotes, offer ideas, and deepen friendships.

From there, the students move through a series of instructional periods covering math, language arts, science, social studies, art, drama, and music. Movement breaks (using a wide array of sensory equipment) are interspersed throughout the day. Students enjoy a communal lunch with the teachers and staff followed by a daily recess period. (Our students go outside on all but the most inhospitable days!) At the end of the day, students work together as a community to tidy the classrooms in preparation for the following day’s activities.

The day ends with Closing Circle where students have the opportunity to review the day and collect any papers or work that needs to go home.

How are social skills taught at City Elementary?

All children need help learning how to navigate the complexities of social life. At City Elementary, we help our students develop their social skills in a number of ways.

We use the Social Thinking curriculum developed by Marcia Gay Winner to help students navigate social situations and develop friendships. We teach using visuals in group settings to help foster friendships and collaboration among our students.

In addition, our students participate in weekly friendship groups led by a licensed pediatric Occupational Therapist with expertise in this area. As these sessions evolve over the course of the school year our students develop increasingly sophisticated social and emotion regulation skills. Through games and cooperative problem-solving exercises, our students refine their communication and negotiation skills, practice patience and flexibility, and master new strategies for connecting with others, reading social cues, coping with frustration, and working together toward a shared goal.

Finally, one of our favorite events at City Elementary is Cake Hour, a Danish tradition we’ve customized for our population. Cake Hour is a special time we set aside each week to come together as a community. After participating in some exercises designed to flex our empathy muscles, one person shares a problem he or she is facing and we work together to find a solution (yes, over cake!). By putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, looking at the world through their eyes and contemplating how they might feel, we gain new insights into human nature, friendship, connection, kindness, and community.

Are there opportunities for students to interact with typically developing peers?

Absolutely. Inclusion opportunities are critical to our students’ growth and development. We’re fortunate to share a building with another small independent elementary school and our student bodies interact regularly. Often it’s as simple as playing tag and taking turns on the playground, but it also involves more coordinated interactions. For example, we’ve established a Reading Buddies program whereby our older students read to their younger students and vice versa. We’ve also constituted a Comics Club for members of each community who share an interest in comics. And subsets of our students work together on an Events Committee to plan and execute joint activities and celebrations. These opportunities to interact in meaningful ways with typically developing peers are tremendously beneficial to our students.

Is aftercare available?

Due to COVID policies we have temporarily suspended aftercare programming.

How is student progress assessed and communicated to parents?

Yearly goals are set at the beginning of the year and are driven by classroom and outside assessments, as well as through collaboration with parents and service providers. Student progress on yearly goals is measured at regular intervals throughout the year. Yearly goals are broken down into quarterly benchmarks and progress is shared with parents through a secure web portal. In addition, each quarter teachers and parents meet to discuss progress and adjust goals as necessary.

Is City Elementary accredited?

City Elementary has been approved by the Illinois State Board of Education and has been found to be fully compliant with all state requirements for private elementary schools.

What is our Anti-Bullying policy?

Click here to read our anti-bullying policy.