Progressive Education

Progressive Education at
the Co-op

At the Montclair Co-op, every aspect of a child’s development is important to us. Your child will experience an environment that encourages academic excellence, independent and diverse thinking, imaginative and innovate ideas, support for one’s passions, and active social responsibility. Co-op students’ minds are stretched in many ways. New intellectual discoveries are made every day. Our program emphasizes experiential, integrated, hands-on learning.

At the Co-op, our teachers go far beyond simply sharing information with students. They work diligently and intentionally to plan compelling, meaningful opportunities for authentic learning experiences. Using progressive ideals for learning, Co-op teachers measure their effectiveness by the growth and development of each student.

Including even our youngest students, children are encouraged to take risks as a natural part of their rich academic experiences. They are asked to explore, question, and hypothesize. We know, and wholeheartedly concur with child development experts, that children learn best when they are fully engaged in purposeful learning. Learning collaboratively, while also building on individual skills, helps each child solidly grasp age-appropriate concepts.

A Community of Learners

The Key Elements of Progressive Education at the Co-op

Challenging academics, social education, hands-on projects, and creative expression through the arts define our multi-dimensional progressive education. At the Co-op, these are interconnected, forming an integrated curriculum. During the course of a child’s career at the Co-op, the balance shifts – but they remain in harmony. As children progress through the program, the areas become more differentiated, allowing separate intensive instruction in academics, the arts and social skills.

This integrated approach, based on a classroom theme, provides children a riveting context in which to learn and practice academic skills, to develop their understanding of social interaction, and to express their creativity. At its core, it teaches children how to think, beginning with what they already know and then provoking questions that lead them to seek out new knowledge.

One of the Co-op’s unique hallmarks is the Trips Program and the learning opportunities it provides. Over their years at the Co-op, students participate in developmentally-appropriate, immersive trips to enhance learning through direct, hands-on experiences. Environmental stewardship has also been a long held tenet of a Co-op education and students beginning in second grade take part in a variety of environmentally-based trips, including camping, canoeing and for the 8th graders culminating in a backpacking adventure in the Southwest.

Progressive educators have long emphasized providing students meaningful, integrated studies that connect with the real world and encourage both critical thinking and creativity. A growing body of research is proving that progressive education is more relevant than ever and qualities such as social-emotional intelligence are key to a successful life.

Excited About Education

Our aim is to foster our children’s natural inquisitiveness so that they may develop a life-long enthusiasm for learning. We see that spirit alive every day as our children come to school eager for the day ahead, whether in kindergarten or 8th grade. The pride and joy in learning is particularly tangible when classes hold their festivals after the completion of a long study, inviting the whole school to experience their work as they explain their process and share their amazing stories and art.