Forest Bluff School is an AMI-accredited Montessori school offering a range of academic programs for children from 18 months through 14 years, as well as parent and child classes from birth through age three. We are a small, supportive community where parents and teachers work closely together to support each child's individual developmental and intellectual journey.

Quick Stats (2021-22)

Top Rankings

Forest Bluff School ranks among the top 20% of private schools in Illinois for:

School Overview

Religious Affiliation
Grades Offered
Grades Nursery/Preschool-8
Year Founded

Student Body

Total Students
145 students
Student Body Type
% Students of Color
State avg.: 34%

Academics and Faculty

Total Classroom Teachers
15 teachers
Student : Teacher Ratio
National avg.: 13:1
% Faculty w/Advanced Degree
Average Class Size
20 students
List of Courses Offered
Classroom Dress Code
(Khaki pants, collared shirts)

Tuition and Acceptance Rate

Admission Deadline
None / Rolling
Tuition Notes
Tuition is based on age/program and ranges from $8,900 to $18,150.
Admissions Director
Lynn Lillard Jessen

School Notes

  • Our mission at Forest Bluff School is to guide children in their self-formation from birth through fourteen years of age. Self-formation follows universal principles, in addition to being unique for each child. It involves an integrating process that is guided by the developing intellect and human spirit. It is best achieved in an educational environment that fosters self-displine and the opportunity to exercise freedom appropriate to the child's developing sense of responsibilty. These skills of strong character are readily observed in the child's growing respect for others, the environment, and the self.
  • Academically, a Forest Bluff School education focuses on the child's skills for discovery and exploration of a world that is both physical and spiritual in nature. We believe that this search for understanding, as opposed to the presentation, memorization, and subsequent testing of information, is the essence of a meaningful education. It is a life-long process for each of us.
  • We encourage our teachers and parents to continue their own personal growth as a means to assist children in their self-development and in their attainment of those virtues important to a civilized and productive society: character, integrity, service, and a passion for life.
Profile last updated: 08/24/2021

School Reviews

  5.00 out of 5  (10 reviews)
As a parent with experience at both another Montessori school and a traditional school, I can attest to the strength of the program at Forest Bluff School. This well-established program is focused on what is best for your child's academic and personal development. The materials are time-tested and they evolve as your child grows throughout the program. The non-competitive environment is refreshing as you witness academic achievement without the constant stress of standardized testing. Children work together daily, which strengthens social and problem-solving skills. I remember when we initially toured Forest Bluff (we currently have two elementary children enrolled) and I was told there wasn`t a dedicated Art Class. I thought this was odd. Of course, I had no idea how many beautiful, hand-crafted reports would come home with colorful illustrations and intricate binding! Art was being taught not within a 30-minute period but was being seamlessly woven into content throughout the day. I suppose it could be easy for Forest Bluff leadership to add an "art class" to appease parent expectations but what they are doing is 100% working. The creativity and artistic interests of my children increased immensely after joining Forest Bluff. Not to mention the school offers an amazing drama performance week at the end of the year.I also appreciate the parent support at Forest Bluff. The book discussions and parent meetings have been helpful in building a homelife that further strengthens the academic and personal growth of my children. This approach to education does not stop when the kids walk out the school door there is so much we can do as parents to prepare the environments of our home, model positive behavior and provide healthy choices for our children. I encourage you to check out the parent resources found on the Forest Bluff website. Overall, our experience at Forest Bluff has been excellent - the teachers have so many years of experience and the program is tried and true!
- Posted by
I believe Forest Bluff School to be the best private Montesorri school in the area. And I did not only choose this school for my child, I chose it for myself, too because it puts in a lot of effort to guide and educate parents and bring likeminded people together. It is not just a great school but a community with values which makes one proud to be a part of. I try to make the most of book discussions and lectures myself. My husband and I are so happy with our choice. My child has just started and she loves her school and teacher. Even from the first week, I could see her being more self sufficient, more careful with her daily activities, busier in her mind. The administration and the educators show great attention to every detail. If you would like to address something, they are there to listen to you and you never feel rushed. The ones I got to know, I found inspiring in many ways. Such a special school. And I love the neat, tasteful and clean classrooms and the sensible dress code.
- Posted by
Forest Bluff Montessori school is defined by their fidelity to the Montessori method, a relationship based administration model, and family centered school culture. Our boys, ages 2, 6 & 9 are delighted to be attending school for the first time this year. Our transition from homeschooling for nearly a decade, to Montessori school, has been just the right fit. What a wonderful time they have had getting to know their classmates and teachers. We look forward to hearing stories about all they are learning and experiencing at Forest Bluff every evening. Our children`s hearts are full and their spirits fed! The wisdom and experience of their teachers in tandem with the Montessori approach, inspires daily investigations that sparks desire, creativity, and awe. Their capacity to wonder, followed by a desire to research and share their findings, has been a joy to witness. Our homeschooling years were a treasure for which I am grateful, but one big change has taken place since we started at Forest Bluff. Our middle son is smiling every day. He has a light in his eyes that I was yearning to help him share. I am so thankful that he has gained confidence and really started to let his light shine. The administration and staff at Forest Bluff recognize the importance of family time and create a school culture that support the parent & child relationship through Montessori From the Start classes, timely book discussions, and an invaluable series of parenting lectures. These opportunities help parents develop connected relationships with their children, with a multitude of resources and support built right into the school environment. Forest Bluff Montessori is AMAZING!
- Posted by
I am grateful to have the opportunity to share with others the results of our experience at Forest Bluff School. We have three children who attended Forest Bluff and are now college students, and one a junior in high school. They are remarkably productive people focused on making an impact in the world. Forest Bluff developed a foundation in them of genuine goodness and genuine interest in all people.At Forest Bluff the classroom was a place where learning was interesting and was the focal point. The relationships of the children were centered around solving a math problem together, researching a painter, or putting sentences together in the appropriate way. They bonded over the learning and the satisfaction in getting something right. There was no focus on one`s clothing, where one was coming from in the morning, or whether they would be included in a weekend event. They were equals in their own world of learning, and their bonds were deep. When our children left that beautiful world, they sought out other students who were curious learners and contributors. When one of my children was asked by her college counselor what type of college she wanted to attend, she thought for a moment and then said, "I really just want to go to a college where other students enjoy learning like me-a school that is the college version of my Montessori school." In the graduates you will find so many interesting professions-researchers, doctors, authors, and bankers. They are happy, contributors, and wonderful to be around. Our children`s experience and education at Forest Bluff was a gift.
- Posted by
I am an alumni parent who can't rave enough about phenomenal Forest Bluff School. Our youngest daughter went to Forest Bluff and learned to love learning for learning's sake and we attribute her academic success completely to Forest Bluff. She is the only one of our threedaughters who received an academic scholarship to the college of her choice. The environmentis so conducive to learning that there is just no comparison to other schools. It's a 10+ in my book!
- Posted by
Our family has been very lucky to send our three year old daughter to Forest Bluff School starting this spring. We have toured numerous private schools on the North Shore and could not have found a better place that will prepare our child for an exciting life where she will be able to make her own responsible choices with confidence, respect for other people, and love for nature. From the minute we stepped into the building of Forest Bluff School for a private tour my husband and I knew that this is a very special place. The school is airy and bright with light coming from the skylights. You often hear a quiet sound of bells creating a tranquil atmosphere in which it is so easy to focus and immerse yourself in learning. We have observed the work of children in this environment from age two to fourteen and were astonished at the level of concentration and respect to their surroundings. We also noticed an almost contagious stress-free, quiet presence that they all share from the youngest of ages to adolescence. The school is dedicated to providing such a peaceful setting in which children are comfortable exploring various subjects through hands-on approach without a limit to their curiosity and often far beyond traditional school curriculum. Our daughter is happy to go to school every day and talks about her teachers and classmates with fondness. The school helped our family to transition mid-year with so much attention and care for our daughter that shows experience and commitment of teachers and other staff members. We found it very easy to communicate with the teacher or other staff members: our questions have always been answered and phone calls returned promptly, with smile and kind voice. Overall, I have noticed that everyone who goes to Forest Bluff School ?? children, parents, and staff ?? always smiles. This makes my day every morning I drop off my daughter at school. Lastly, we wanted to note that this school is not just a wonderful place for your child but for an entire family. I have been able to attend educational seminars on various developmental stages in children`s lives, book discussions, alumni gatherings, and even an end-of-year school picnic. We have met so many amazing people already and feel welcomed into this multi-national, -racial, -cultural, and -religious community. We are a multi-lingual family that chose to speak our native language at home. Forest Bluff School provides diversity that we value so much. We look forward to seeing our daughter experience all the great things Forest Bluff School offers to its students for years to come.
- Posted by
I recommend Forest Bluff School for your children's preschool, kindergarten and elementary school options in Lake Bluff, Lake Forest and the North Shore. Please tour Forest Bluff - an AMI-accredited, internationally-recognized Montessori School nestled in its natural prairie setting in downtown Lake Bluff. Once you walk through the school hallways of this beautifully-designed bright school, you too will sense the peaceful environment and safe haven where your children will flourish. Our 10-year daughter has attended Forest Bluff since she was 2 years old (Young Children's Community ) and is now in Upper Elementary (Grade 5) where she is honing her independent research skills and group work. Montessori is a proven educational approach & philosophy that focuses on the whole" child intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Happy that our daughter experiences and embodies the daily joy of learning with great teachers who support her through the planes of development. We love the multi-age classrooms where older kids model and help teach the younger kids. From Upper Elementary, she will go to the Secondary Level (Grade 7 and 8) the promise land where academic studies are supplemented with long out-of-town trips to explore real life, work and community service. These trips are the "accelerants" in the fire of learning that help shape our child's readiness for the challenges she will face in high school, college and adult life. The School is internationally recognized for its Montessori excellence. One of the School founders, Paula Lillard, is well-respected worldwide as an authority on Montessori education. Her 4 books including "Montessori: A Modern Approach are seen as THE books for Montessori and Paula brings to bear her 50 years of teaching experience and leadership to the School. Finally what sets apart this School is the very tight-knit and supportive parent-teacher community. When I had shoulder surgery, the other parents helped us by driving my daughter to school everyday and helping me out. The School's big ask from parents is to support our child's Montessori education journey with best practices from school at home and to attend Continuing Education events. We have loved our 8 years here at Forest Bluff and look forward to the next 4 years.
- Posted by
As a former public school teacher with several years of formal training and experience in pedagogy, I can say with confidence that Forest Bluff School is the embodiment of an education for lifelong learning. The Forest Bluff administration, faculty, and staff are wholly committed to the foundational principles of Montessori education, which emphasizes the development of the whole child through experiences and an environment that inspire and foster the innate drive to learn, with which we are all born. My two children genuinely enjoy going to school at Forest Bluff (and have since they were toddlers), and as parents, my husband and I are convinced that Forest Bluff provides an unparalleled educational experience for our children while staying true to Dr. Maria Montessori's ultimate aim of nurturing the human spirit. Students at Forest Bluff visibly take pride in their work, as evidenced by their poised excitement as they set the table and prepare the food for morning refreshment, deliver an oral report on a thoroughly researched topic, or interact with parents in the school community when selling their hand-crafted goods to raise funds for an outdoor experiential learning trip. If this is not hands-on learning at its finest, I don't know what is. The learning environment at Forest Bluff is meticulously planned, the learning materials are authentic and engaging, and the learning experiences are designed for the deeper purpose of developing young people who are not only skilled and well-informed, but also responsible, empathetic, resilient, independent and full of curiosity, wonder, ingenuity, and gratitude. Forest Bluff is an exceptional school where students learn to take care of themselves and each other. We feel extremely fortunate to have found a school that we trust implicitly with our children's education.
- Posted by
Forest Bluff is an internationally recognized AMI certified Montessori school. Our three children have attended other AMI accredited schools, and Forest Bluff is, by far, the best that we have seen. Our experience has shown that the element that distinguishes a school simply employing Montessori principles from a school that truly embodies Maria Montessori's revolutionary insight as an educator is the vision and commitment of school leadership. From the emphasis on grace and courtesy (unfortunately uncommon these days) to the powerful combination of freedom to follow one's interest where it will lead with a focus on hard work and depth of study on a path once chosen, the Forest Bluff approach demonstrates that children thrive in an atmosphere of high expectations and well-communicated boundaries. Forest Bluff's leaders have demonstrated lifetime (and intergenerational!) commitment to educating children the Montessori way. As parents of Forest Bluff students, we are both grateful for and take inspiration from this sense of commitment. The school enlists parents as partners in the enterprise through the parent-child series, regular lectures on Montessori methods and principles, and access to teachers and school directors. However, it is very important to understand that the child is the priority. The emphasis is on the child, not the parent, as we see at so many private schools. The school has been put on sound financial footing through conservative fiscal management and very limited specifically targeted fundraising campaigns, so the near-constant cultivation of parents/grandparents as ongoing sources for supplemental funding (rather than principally as partners in education) is, thankfully, not a feature of the Forest Bluff experience. The Forest Bluff Secondary program is the jewel in the crown and the culmination of all that the school's emphasis on self-control and self-motivation is striving to achieve. Taught by a dedicated and inspirational husband-wife team, the Secondary classroom experience is purposefully designed to mimic the high ambition and strong support of a caring but demanding family environment. The safety and structure of this approach is particularly effective during this critical period of brain reorganization, social/hormonal commotion and growing awareness of and transition towards the demands and rigors of the adult world. In addition to the academic curriculum, the Secondary students carefully plan organize and share responsibilities for fall and spring class trips (touring Washington D.C. and hiking the Centennial Trail in the Black Hills of South Dakota were recent adventures (that our oldest son really enjoyed!). These trips supplement the classroom experience by strengthening relationships and providing real world challenges for the students to tackle together. Friends and acquaintances say that there is something positively unique about Forest Bluff students. We thank Forest Bluff for providing us with a framework for raising our children in such a fast paced, demanding environment where parents and children can easily be caught up in technology, video games and other distractions.
- Posted by
Forest Bluff is known internationally as a model Montessori school, and as a parent I''ve found that its reputation is deserved. The teachers are thoughtful, caring and intelligent, the building and grounds are beautiful, and this school has committed to a fully realized vision of Montessori education. Most families stay all the way through 8th grade.
- Posted by

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Quick Stats (2021-22)

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Did You Know?

The average private school tuition in Lake County, IL is $10,315 for elementary schools and $22,567 for high schools (read more about average private school tuition across the country).
The average acceptance rate in Lake County, IL is 87% (read more about average acceptance rates across the country).

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