Progressive Education

Progressive Education allows students to explore

The Baker Difference

You’ll notice the typical Baker classroom looks different from the traditional classroom.

Children here are actively learning through play. They are free to explore the world indoors and out. Teachers, engaging with them as co-learners, are exploring right alongside them. These explorations often take us out into nature and into the broader community.

It’s called Progressive Education, an educational model with profound benefits for all children.

Why Baker

Benefits of Progressive Education

Collaboration and deep engagement between student and teacher
Intimate Learning Environment
With just 220 students and an average class size of 18, your child can be known and get to know their classmates and teachers well, fostering fruitful collaboration and deep engagement.
An inclusive, diverse, fun and educational classroom
Inclusive, Diverse Community

25 zip codes in the Chicagoland area are represented here, and 26% of our students are multilingual, representing progress toward an ever-more diverse student body that promotes empathy and mutual understanding.

Students engage in physical education activities at the swimming pool
Active Campus

With five days of physical education, a gymnasium, swimming pool, three playgrounds and other amenities for play and sports, your child will have every opportunity to be up and moving, satisfying physical needs that are just as integral to learning as social and emotional needs.

Students benefit and thrive in project-based learning
Thriving Graduates

Graduates are prepared to thrive in any school they choose to attend, a product of Baker’s more than 100 years of nationally recognized educational excellence.

A (Brief) History of Progessive Education

Our roots are in the Progressive Education movement, which began over a century ago.

It was the late 19th century, and the world was undergoing dramatic changes. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing. It was rapidly creating new technologies and workforce opportunities for which educators needed to prepare their students. But how do you prepare young people for such an unpredictable future?

Progressive Education arose as an answer to that question. Its proponents, such as American psychologist John Dewey, Italian physician Maria Montessori and our first director, Clara Belle Baker, suggested the best way to prepare children was to focus more on teaching them through experience how to learn rather than merely what to learn. That would prepare them to adapt and thrive regardless of what the future brings.

Independent schools like Baker are leading the way, providing a truly progressive educational experience that prepares them for a world that is changing more rapidly than ever before. Here, your child’s natural love of learning will grow into the confidence they need to solve problems, adapt to whatever life brings them, advocate for themselves and ultimately thrive in whatever they choose to do.

Accreditation & Affiliations

What is accreditation and why does it matter?

Accreditation is the process of being evaluated by recognized authorities in academic administration. Baker is proud of the recognition we continue to earn from these accrediting organizations:

Independent Schools Association of Central States (ISACS)
The ISACS accreditation process includes an extensive self-study and external evaluation, and is conducted every seven years. Baker was accredited once again in 2019.

Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
Non-Public School Recognition, Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)

National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
NAIS is a membership organization representing approximately 1,200 independent schools and associations in the United States and abroad. NAIS-accredited schools must operate with ethical principles, offer an intellectual environment of free and open inquiry, show evidence of sound fiscal practice and have responsible governance and administration.

Lake Michigan Association of Independent Schools (LMAIS)
LMAIS is a non-profit organization established to promote educational excellence by supporting the interests of independent schools in northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, building strong relationships between independent schools, and creating innovative opportunities in professional development for the faculty, staff and administrators in independent schools.

Progressive Education Network (PEN)
Building on the common vision of pedagogy articulated by our forbearers in the Progressive Education Association and the Network of Progressive Educators, PEN is guided by a century-long legacy while enthusiastically embracing a commitment to diversity, equity and justice in member schools like Baker.