According to the detailed observations of Dr. Montessori, the development of the child between the ages of 6 to 12 years is focused on the development of internal organization of thoughts and ideas, the capacity for imagination, and the thirst for understanding the universe. Dr. Montessori designed a curriculum for these years that would continue an education for peace and global awareness.
The Cultural Studies of history, geography, zoology, and botany are integrated into an understanding of the universe and life within it, thus giving a context for everything studied during the lifetime of the individual. The elementary-aged child is also in the sensitive period for social development and social justice, therefore great attention is given to responsibilities within the community and social organization. Students move between independent work and collaborative group work throughout each day.
Children grasp the concepts of time during these years and begin to plan their day’s activities independently. They learn to manage time effectively and learn to meet due dates for their work. Field trips are an integrated part of our curriculum. Besides being memorable and rich learning opportunities, our trips reinforce the fact that education happens everywhere in life, not just in a classroom.
9 – 12-year-olds are mastering many skills and moving into a place of competence and confidence. They work well both independently and within a group. Their organization and time-management skills are nicely developed. They approach decision-making and rule-following from a greater moral and ethical context. One hallmark of this age group is their increasing ability to take leadership roles in the school community and beyond. Their sense of social justice has matured and is voiced regularly. In the 6th year of this second stage of development, we see the hint of what is to come in the next developmental stage, ages 12-18. There is a continued emphasis on independence and collaborative learning. Students at this age seek deeper peer relationships with friends while exploring their own sense of self and what makes them different and unique.
Teacher to student ratio: 1:15
School day, 8:45 – 3:15 (Extended care available 7:30 am – 6:00 pm)
The core difference between lower and upper elementary students is the degree of depth and specificity in their studies. The students’ greater abilities to be independent and take initiative are supported by the expansive nature of the curriculum. The classroom environment and curriculum are designed to meet the specific needs of the older elementary student. More independent projects are pursued based on common topics studied. The 9-12 year old is ready to take overnight field trips that allow for more independence, responsibility and expanded learning opportunities. Trips are closely tied to the subjects being studied in the classroom.
The Upper Elementary classroom is a literacy-rich environment with a strong language program. Daily activities include the following elements: reading, written communication, oral communication, and handwriting.
In this age group, learning to read shifts to reading to learn, and reading becomes a primary source of information. Students read from a wide variety of genres. Reading comprehension is enhanced through discussion, written responses to literature, book projects, and exploration of reading strategies. Grammar expands to include sentence analysis and advanced verb study, which supports developing writing skills.
Written communication includes spelling, vocabulary development, writing and research. The development of strong writing skills is approached through a special focus on the six traits of writing: ideas, word choice, organization, voice, sentence fluency and conventions. Students are supported in becoming confident, expressive and fluent writers.
Oral communication is developed through small group presentations, whole school addresses, and theatrical presentations with an emphasis on confident, clear delivery.
Students continue to refine handwriting skills in print and cursive in addition to expanding their use of the keyboard.
Math work continues to focus on the four functions with whole number and fractional numbers using the Montessori materials that move the child from the concrete through to abstraction. These skills are applied to greater contexts in the sciences and geography studies relying on problem-solving skills. Math studies combine both arithmetic and geometric understanding of numbers and logical relationships. We focus our math study on the following areas: whole number computation, fraction computation (standard and decimal), ratios, percentages, probability, statistics, logic, geometry, graphing, measurement, and algebra.
The following topics are part of our life science curriculum: cell study, botany, zoology, human biology, ecology and the Tree of Life. The following topics are included in our physical science curriculum: simple machines, forces of the Earth, chemistry, and astronomy.
Subjects in the social sciences and sciences are the heart of the Montessori curriculum. The objectives of geography are to understand the functions of the earth, to learn to read and use maps, and to study the people on this planet, their cultures, economic circumstances and political distinctions.
The history cycle includes California History, US History and Ancient Civilizations. Each history study is framed with a focus on the building blocks of civilization and the fundamental needs of people.
Physical and life science study topics include: simple machines, botany, forces of the Earth, geology, the human body, physiology of invertebrates and vertebrates, fungi, chemistry, and astronomy.
Students participate in cooperative games, sports, Aikido, dance, and movement. Our emphasis is on good sportsmanship, teamwork, physical confidence and understanding the human body and how to take care of it.
Spanish is our chosen second language. Upper Elementary students expand their study of Spanish to include Sym-Talk materials, conversational Spanish, reading short novels and essays, and writing. They also use The Rosetta Stone software in the classroom. Spanish language skills are reinforced through cultural studies and performances throughout the school year.
Art and music classes are held weekly. Our Orff-Schulwerk music program includes voice, instrument, dance and ensemble experiences. Children develop their sense of tone and rhythm and learn music notation. Throughout their six years in the elementary program, students have hands-on experience with a variety of musical instruments. Our art program introduces students to basic drawing and painting techniques in addition to exploring a variety of creative media. Students develop an appreciation for the art of many cultures and time periods, while expressing their own creativity through arts and crafts.
Practical life activities include cooking, self-care skills, care of the classroom, and the school environment. Students in the Upper Elementary are directly involved in planning field trips, including planning and preparation for overnight trips.
Sixth year students complete a yearlong service-learning project, which includes a minimum of 20 hours of community service. Students choose their own project with guidance from the teacher. Past projects include: toy and clothing drive for youth in foster care, helping with building repairs and maintenance for farm sanctuary, collecting data on a demonstration forest, urban tree planting, and litter and creek clean up. Students research their projects, solicit community involvement and give an oral presentation to the community at the end of the school year.
Education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment.
– Maria Montessorii