Lower Elementary (ages 6-9)
The Montessori elementary classroom is designed with the rapidly developing child in mind. No longer content to have just physical independence (as in the primary class), the elementary child now yearns for intellectual independence.
The Montessori classroom is designed to support the positive growth of students mentally, socially, physically, and emotionally. When children feel that they have control over their own learning goals, they are more intrinsically motivated and enjoy learning more. To support this, the children are given a great deal of free choice in determining their educational paths, with supportive limits and structure. As the children develop independent work skills, we negotiate certain requirements while seeing that all the core areas are covered during the year. The children work with the teachers to determine how and when their goals will be met as they assume more responsibility and take more ownership of their learning.
We adhere to the Montessori curriculum but we feel we must also reflect American standards of performance so that when our students leave for other schools they will be secure in their new environments. To insure this, we administer standardized tests to the children yearly to teach them test taking skills and strategies that they will need in the future.
The carefully developed curriculum guides the child through the exploration of language, math, geometry, botany, zoology, geography, and history. The child of this age wants to know how everything came to be. In the Montessori elementary classroom, we give the child the history of the universe, the world, the coming of plants and animals, and the emergence of humans on Earth.
The elementary math program allows students learn through trial and error, self-discovery, and teaching from other children. The hands-on Montessori materials allow students to fully conceptualize numbers and number operations. The materials quickly move the child to an abstraction of math concepts, including problem solving, fractions, exchanging, graphing, measurement, long division, and algebraic equations. Geometric materials encourage exploration and lead children to their own discoveries of spatial relationships, including congruence, symmetry, and equivalency.
When the children are seized with this passion for accurate expression of their thoughts in writing, when spontaneously, clearness becomes the goal of their efforts, they follow the hunt for words with the keenest enthusiasm – Maria Montessori.
It is this thirst for words, for new knowledge, that helps drive the language curriculum. Students in this age group are eager to connect to their world, and to use their imaginations to construct new worlds with their language. The Montessori language curriculum encompasses the following major areas: handwriting, mechanics, word study, grammar, sentence analysis, writers’ workshop, phonetic reading, and reading comprehension. Students use Montessori materials to actively explore grammar and parts of speech, as well as sentence analysis, while current, high quality literature is used to teach reading and comprehension. Students engage in writing on a daily basis and learn how to go through the writing process.
“The elementary child has reached a new level of development. Before, he was interested in things: working with his hands, learning their names. Now he is interested mainly in the how and why…the problem of cause and effect.”
– Maria Montessori
Dr. Montessori said, “What is a scientist? We give the name scientist to the type of man who has felt experiment to be a means guiding him to search out the deep truth of life.” Starting right away with the demonstrations of the laws of the universe, students are taught the importance and power of observation, of using their senses to strategically investigate what is happening. Along with an introduction of the scientific method, the science curriculum also consists of the study of matter and energy. This is an area that is well-suited to this age group, due to their propensity for imagination. The study of elements, molecules, and sub-atomic particles requires the use of imagination, and students most often are intensely curious to learn what their world is made of. The science curriculum also includes studies in biology. Children at this age have an intense desire to know the real names of plants and animals, and are capable or learning the differences and similarities among the kingdoms and classes. They learn about the external parts of vertebrates, as well as the parts of plants. Students further advance their knowledge of the animal kingdom by studying the characteristics of the five classes of vertebrates, as well as further classification of the plant kingdom.
To engage these inquisitive, imaginative minds of the child ages six to twelve, Dr. Montessori and her son developed what are called “The Great Lessons.” It is not enough to simply give the child information. “To interest children in the universe, we must not begin by giving them elementary facts about it, to make them merely understand its mechanism, but start with far loftier notions of philosophical nature, put in an acceptable manner, suited to the child’s psychology”(Montessori). Children at this age love dramatic stories that invoke their sense of imagination, and this is how the Great Lessons were designed- to spark interest, to leave the children with more questions than they started with, with a thirst to know more. The Great Lessons are comprised of five lessons: the creation of the universe, the beginning of life, the coming of human beings, the development of language, and the development of numbers. The creation of the universe begins with the dramatic description of a world where nothing existed. The beginning of life includes a huge timeline of life, demonstrating to the children what a very short amount of time humans have been a part of the earth’s history. This leads to the coming of humans, focusing on how humans are unique, with our capacity to love and intellectual reasoning. With this intellectual capacity comes the last two lessons- the story of writing and the story of numbers, both histories of how these forms of communication and reasoning came to be. These Great Lessons are intended to give children the big picture, to inspire. They naturally then lend themselves to further, more in-depth studies into civilizations and cultural studies.
Elementary classes are listed below.
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