Lower Elementary

ELEMENTARY PROGRAM OVERVIEW

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.

We begin each school year with a focus on the culture we wish to establish together in our classroom. We emphasize respect, compassion, problem solving and conflict resolution. We learn about Non-violent Communication (NVC), also known as Compassionate Communication. We focus on understanding our values and the qualities we wish to develop within ourselves. Among the many values we nurture are friendship, generosity, courage, forgiveness, patience and love for learning. We continue to reinforce grace and courtesy as we celebrate diversity and the uniqueness of each child. In our culture of safety and trust, children develop positive attitudes toward learning. The Montessori method focuses on the acquisition of organizational, time-management and study skills through daily practice of independence and choice.

Unlike a traditional classroom, the Montessori teacher primarily gives lessons in language and math on an individual or small group basis. In this way, the curriculum is customized to fit the pace and interests of the students.

Teacher to student ratio: 1:15
School day, 8:45 – 3:15 (Extended care available from 7:30 am; afternoon extended care available until 6:00 pm)

Related Video: Montessori: The Elementary Years by American Montessori Society

 

LOWER ELEMENTARY CURRICULUM

Language
Montessori classrooms are language-rich environments. The Language program is an integrated approach, developing vocabulary, grammar, writing and reading skills simultaneously. Montessori teachers combine phonics and “whole language” methods in the teaching of reading. Reading skills are tremendously enhanced by the student’s research work in the Cultural Studies. Time-honored literature is the basis for the reading program when the child shifts into independent reading. Elements of our language-rich lower elementary curriculum:

  • Reading
  • Poetry
  • Grammar
  • Mechanics
  • Vocabulary
  • Punctuation
  • Oral Language
  • Creative Writing
  • Research Skills
  • Handwriting
  • Literature
  • Spelling/word structure

Mathematics
Our Mathematics curriculum is multi-dimensional, well-designed program that builds a base of math concepts, from the concrete to the abstract, through the use of Montessori materials. The children master math skills at their own pace. They are taught in a small group or on an individual basis and can move ahead freely into more challenging concepts. To follow are the main components that are covered:

  • Numeration
  • Estimation
  • Computation
  • Place Value
  • Geometry
  • Mental Math
  • Fractions/Decimals
  • Graphing/Charting
  • Measurement
  • Money
  • Problem Solving
  • Time

Cultural Studies
The Cultural Studies are the heart of the Montessori elementary curriculum. At this stage of development, the elementary child has the great curiosity to ask the BIG questions about life and the imagination to comprehend the possible answers. Children pursue these subjects with great energy and thirst for knowledge.

The purpose of the Cultural Studies (zoology, botany, history, geography) is to develop a view of the world as a whole and to see the interdependence of all life. From this grand view, careful steps are taken during the elementary years to deepen an understanding of life. The traditional sciences are woven throughout these subject areas. Students complete independent research projects on topics of interest to them. Montessori saw that these four subject areas comprised a comprehensive view of the world as we know it.

Zoology/Botany
We begin the study of zoology with the overview of the five kingdoms, the scientific classification of all life. It is followed by a focus on the plant and animal kingdoms and then a study of the nine major animal phyla. The invertebrate/vertebrate studies include the physiology of the animal as well as habitat, needs and place in the ecosystem. Students also study the needs of particular animals and their niche in the ecosystem. As with animals, the study of plants include plant parts, physiology, the needs of plants and their place in the ecosystems in which they live. The final year of the cycle focuses on biomes and ecosystems of the world and the interdependency of plants and animals.

History
History begins at the most general level with time and the formation of the universe. From the formation of the universe, through life on our planet, to the history of humans and their writing and numbers, the big picture is portrayed. Physics and chemistry are carefully woven through the history lessons as they relate to particles or the universe and the beginnings of life. As children grasp these big concepts, their studies become increasingly specific.

Geography
The study of geography includes physical, political and cultural geography. The initial focus is on land and water formations, and working with maps and globes. The study of continents and oceans leads to knowledge of the location of countries and cities of the world. The development of specific cultures and the way people adapt to their environment is the focus of study in the second half of each school year. We prepare an in-depth study of a designated continent each year. This curriculum follows a sequence of continent study over a five-year cycle. (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.)

The purpose of this course is not only to develop an appreciation for the people of the world – their similarities and differences – but also to become familiar with the world’s physical and political features. By the end of their three-year study, the students will have a good understanding and appreciation of the places and people of the world. Music and art are closely tied into our Cultural Studies.

Spanish
Spanish is our chosen second language. Students learn basic vocabulary and beginning grammar through verbal and written practice. The language is enhanced by the Cultural Studies included throughout the school year.

Art and Music
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.

Physical Education
Traditional games and sports are taught along with supporting skills and the practice of good sportsmanship. Aikido is taught one day per week for 2nd through 6th year students. Our 1st year students focus on perceptual motor skills.

Practical Life
Practical life in the elementary years includes care of the classroom, including plants and animals, care of the school environment and food preparation. Handwork such as embroidery, knitting, calligraphy, 3-D construction and electrical circuitry help to improve small motor skills, focus and concentration. Practical Life skills such as doing the laundry, making bike repairs and washing the car are encouraged at home.

 

To teach details is to bring confusion; to establish the relationships between things is to bring knowledge.
– Maria Montessori