WHY MONTESSORI FOR ELEMENTARY?
Children in the 6-12 age group are starting to realize that the world is an enormous, interesting, and interactive place. They are primed to study continents, cultures, scientific concepts, and great literature. We believe a lasting education for this age group builds upon a solid foundation of both awe in learning and becoming a responsible member of society, with the world as a classroom.
It is in that spirit that our Elementary Program was built, integrating rigorous academic learning for our growing Montessorians with purposeful work and social-emotional development in a respectful, caring, thoughtfully-prepared environment. The carefully developed elementary curriculum guides the child through identifying, classifying, researching, and disseminating all of the fascinating concepts in each chosen field of study. The areas of practical life, language, math, geometry, botany, zoology, geography, and history are all represented in the classroom, with materials that lead the child to abstraction of the fundamental concepts in each area.
Our Elementary Year 1-6 students are served through:
The language area includes a comprehensive spelling curriculum, word study (including antonyms, synonyms, homonyms, and compounds), parts of speech (including prepositions, articles, conjunctions, etc.), creative writing, and research skills. Reading of every kind is highly encouraged, as children are introduced to poetry, folk tales, non-fiction, and classic literature. Children are also given many opportunities to read out loud – giving a presentation they have written, or dramatizing the work of another author.
There are specific times designated for the study of the basic concepts of music and art using the Montessori philosophy of discovery and independent study. However, these too are integrated into the work the students do with their cultural studies subjects. The children are taught how to use materials and concepts, then encouraged to employ these skills in their work with the core subjects.
“Sensorial” materials and activities encourage classification through visual, auditory, olfactory, and tactile impressions. Fine tuning visual discrimination skills will allow the child to easily distinguish between similarly formed letters for reading. Discovering patterns, similarities and differences builds a strong foundation for increasingly complex math skills. Fine tuning the senses enables precise observation and orderly thought patterns which lay the foundation of math, language, geometry, geography, science, art and music.
Geography and History
Geography and history include the study of civilizations and countries. Wooden puzzle maps of each continent are studied, with children learning the names, flags, animals, cultures, and geographic features of each country. History begins with the
study of time, including clocks, calendars, and timelines. As various fundamental needs of people (like shelter, transportation, food, and clothing) are explored, the children research and chart changes in these needs over time and across cultures.
Practical life, which was a separate area in the 3-6 classroom, is now integrated with the day-to-day care of the classroom and its inhabitants. Tasks may include preparation of snack and daily meals and watering of plants and care of animals. Elementary children dust the shelves, organize and straighten the materials, sweep and vacuum, and keep the classroom neat and clean, and have multiple opportunities to help with general upkeep of the classroom and building.
The math area begins with the Golden Bead material to teach beginning math concepts (place value, quantity/symbol association, and concrete addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). The materials bring a “hands-on” quality to the classroom, with children learning through trial and error, self-discovery, and teaching from other children. The materials quickly move the child to an abstraction of math concepts, including problem solving, fractions, borrowing and carrying, graphing, measurement, long division, and algebraic equations. Geometry is a fascinating area of Montessori. Actual wooden shapes are used to master the terminology of all of the plane figures and solids. Matching cards are used to introduce types and positions of lines, types and positions of angles, and special characteristics of shapes. Experimentation with other materials leads children to their own discoveries of spatial relationships, including congruence, symmetry, and equivalency.
Botany and zoology encompass a wide field of biological study. Matching cards are used to learn the characteristics of many plants and animals, and charts aid in the classification of the plant and animal kingdoms. After this first knowledge is gained, children begin to research on their own, using their knowledge of specific plant and animal species.
The classroom also includes a set of experiments or demonstrations that illuminate basic physical and chemical science concepts called “The Universe Experiments”. Like much of the classroom, science topics are integrated into every part of the classroom allowing the children to explore their interests, research their passions and design their own experiments.
LEARNING STRUCTURE & GENERAL SCHEDULE
Dr. Maria Montessori summed up the elementary level in the following way: “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.” It is now the job of the elementary teacher to provide the child with the materials and information to discover the interconnectedness of the universe. An elementary Montessori classroom is a warm community: a multi-age, stimulating environment with highly trained teachers and materials that invite exploration and research. Children learn to face challenges with confidence, and begin to find their own place in the world around them.
Our Elementary classes begin at 8:30 am, with an optional 7:30-8:30am early care time (additional cost applies). Our Lower Elementary class is composed of a multi-age group of 6-9 year olds, while our Upper Elementary class is composed of a multi-age group of 9-12 year olds. There are two Montessori Directresses/Directors in each classroom and while the American Montessori Society allows for a 1:25 teacher to student ratio, we strive to maintain a 1:15 ratio or lower.
Our Elementary students begin their mornings with group meeting time, in which the Directress/Director may do social and emotional development, introduce new academic concepts, and/or engage them in team-building and collaborative connections. They then engage in a period of extended individual work time, in which they are able to choose academic activities of interest to them and which is governed by work plans that students create themselves once they have learned the skill of budgeting time. Students bring their own snacks to school and are able to take a snack break when needed.
After individual work time, students engage in healthy outdoor activities and lunch. Lunch may either be provided by families or purchased through the school’s vendor. Afternoon classes consist of “specials” — drama, music, foreign language, physical education, and more. Dismissal is at 3:00pm and students with a 3:00 pickup program may be picked up anytime between 3:00pm-3:15pm. Extracurricular classes are offered on campus after school for families who are interested and whose children meet the instructors’ age/skill criteria (extra cost applies).
For our elementary students who need afterschool care (additional cost applies), the afternoons provide more opportunity to learn through exploration. Students are given time to partake of the snacks they packed from home, and have ample opportunity to enjoy more outdoor playtime if the weather permits. Additional social and emotional development with peers through group learning times are built in to the Aftercare program schedule as well. Those who choose to participate in separate extracurricular classes in addition to Aftercare will be picked up by the extracurricular instructor from the Aftercare program and returned to the Aftercare Program after class. Families may pick up anytime between 3:00pm-5:30pm.