Philosophy of Black Bear Academy



“Play is the work of the child”

Jean Piaget


At Black Bear, the benefits of your child’s play are facilitated by our instructors to increase developmental readiness for future developmental, academic, and social milestones by improving language skills, increasing core vocabulary, facilitating healthy neurological maturation and supporting efficient and effective construction of rapid neural pathways and processing centers.

All of our teachers have academic training in related fields such as Speech Pathology, Early Childhood Education, Psychology, Music and other related degrees which support the philosophy of our program. They are prepared to maximize your child’s readiness to participate in communication, academic and social contexts successfully.

Our clinical staff has six years of academic training in addition to twelve months of Clinical Fellowship in Speech Pathology. They are university trained with over 250 hours of course work and clinical experience in pediatric language and cognitive development prior to licensing by the State of Illinois and certification by our national organization, ASHA, holding a certificate of clinical competence.

We have five exciting programs, Academic, Therapeutic, Therapeutic Enrichment and Transitions, Academy Arts and our Language Enrichment program for Lil’ Guys. These programs will inspire your child through play-based activities in wonderful, bright classrooms. Activities include arts and crafts, music, opportunities for both fine and gross motor activities in our sensory gym, computer play, reading, guided free play, snack time and so much more!

Our program is designed to encourage parents’ observation of their children via closed circuit television in our bright, comfortable parent sitting area. Have a cup of tea and watch your child learn, grow, and have fun. Class sizes are small to insure that each child is actively engaged and fully participates. Come see us today, and learn why your child’s play is the key to their future success.

To schedule a tour of our facility and services, please complete our online Tour Request form. To request information by email, please submit to: For specific information pertaining to the Academic or Therapeutic Programs at Black Bear Academy Chicago-Private, please call 773-244-0500 to schedule an appointment with Jennifer Snell, Director of the Academic Program, or Katie Tengel, Director of Therapeutic Programs. 

Ten Positive Developmental Signs

1. Children spend most of their time playing and working with materials or other children. They do not wander aimlessly and are not expected to sit quietly for long periods of time.

2. Children have access to various activities throughout the day. Look for assorted building blocks and other construction materials; props for pretend play; picture books; paints and other art materials; and table toys such as matching games, pegboards, and puzzles. Children should not all be doing the same thing at the same time.

3. Teachers work with individual children, small groups, and the whole group at different times during the day. They do not spend all their time with the whole group.

4. The classroom is decorated with children’s original artwork, their own writing with invented spelling, and stories dictated by children to teachers.

5. Children learn numbers and the alphabet in the context of their everyday experiences. The natural world of plants and animals and meaningful activities like cooking, taking attendance, or serving snack provide the basis for learning activities.

6. Children work on projects and have long periods of time (at least one hour) to play and explore. Worksheets are used little if at all.

7. Children have an opportunity to play outside every day. Outdoor play is never sacrificed for more instructional time.

8. Teachers read books to children individually or in small groups throughout the day, not just at group story time.

9. Curriculum is adapted for those who are ahead as well as those who need additional help. Teachers recognize that children’s different background and experiences mean that they do not learn the same things at the same time in the same way.

10. Children and their parents look forward to school. Parents feel secure about sending their child to the program. Children are happy to attend; they do not cry regularly or complain of feeling sick.