Based upon the concept of cosmic education, the elementary program honors the child’s innate desire to explore, examine, and make sense of the world. The curriculum connects inter-related parts and helps the children to place themselves in the myriad fascinations of life.
The Montessori materials are beautifully handcrafted and are displayed on low, open shelves. These unique materials are tools to stimulate the child into logical thought and discovery. Each piece of material has a specific purpose and is presented in a manner that will enable children to direct their own learning.
Each piece presents one concept or idea at a time and has what is known as a “control of error.” If the child has done something incorrectly, it will be self-evident. The geometric shape, for example, won’t fit the hole; or the last label will not match the last picture. In this way, children learn to work with increasing independence, taking control and responsibility for their own learning.
The Great Lessons
The Great lessons are connected stories that span the enormous historical frames of time and space. They serve as a starting point for further exploration and as a spark to illuminate the majesty of the world around the child and the possibility of the child’s potential as an active and important agent of change.
History: The study of history begins with the development of the solar system and life on earth. Creation stories from various cultures are presented. A timeline of evolution is used as a beginning point for the botanical and zoological studies. The use of the timeline gives the child a scientific representation of the length of time life was developing on earth prior to the arrival of the human species.
Following the study of the evolution of non-human life on earth, the child begins to study the evolution of humans and the development of early civilizations (Egyptian, Roman, native American, etc.) and vertical studies of how a specific need has been met through time (such as housing, writing, transportation, mathematics). Senior Elementary classes delve into the history of the United States.
Geography: The study of geography is designed to show how the physical configurations of the earth contribute to the history of mankind. The study of physical geography and geology is the basis for the study of economic geography and the interdependence of all people.
Science: The first science experiments are designed to give the child the basic knowledge which will make possible the understanding of the development of the solar system, the earth and its configurations, life on earth, and the needs of plants and animals.
Although each individual life, both plant and animal, seems to be selfishly fighting for its own survival, each takes only what it needs and, in turn, makes its contribution to the ecological whole. Montessori calls this its cosmic task.
Human Relations: The human relations curriculum has The Fundamental Needs of Humans as its organizing center. These needs include the material or concrete needs such as food, clothing and shelter, and also the spiritual or abstract needs such as art, religion, and social acceptance.
By investigating these needs, the child comes to see that the needs of humans in all places on the earth and in all time in history are the same. This understanding leads to the realization of the interrelatedness of all people. When the child can see that the needs of people are the same, then s/he can respect and appreciate the variety of ways in which those needs are met.
Language: Language is an important part of the entire Montessori curriculum. Its treatment as a separate subject comes only at the points at which it is necessary to give the student a conscious awareness of how it can be used more effectively. The cultural curriculum in the Montessori classroom guides the child through reading for its own enjoyment and as a research tool. The environment includes provisions for developing basic reading skills, introducing reading as a tool, fostering reading interest in appropriate literature, and encouraging life-long reading habits. Because children have different learning styles, they are provided with different means for learning to read within the environment. In this way, each child will be able to learn to read in the style that is the easiest and most meaningful for him.
Through reading and discussing classical literature, the children improve reading skills and comprehension. Once the child has become aware of writing as a graphic form of communication and is comfortable in expressing ideas in this form, the mechanics of writing and grammar are introduced. These include word study, grammar, spelling, penmanship, punctuation, and capitalization.
Mathematics: Manipulation of concrete and symbolic materials with built-in error control develops sound arithmetic skills and leads the child to make his own abstractions. The child continues to work with the material until such a time as s/he has internalized a concept. Then, the child begins work with memorization and speed of recall of facts and processes.
Experience with material designed for the exploration of such concepts as long division, fractions, and area and volume allow the child to work with such ideas at a young age. At every juncture, math is related to the cultural areas being explored, illustrating the practical use of mathematical concepts and their relevance to the child’s world.
Geometry: Geometry in Montessori follows the historical development of the subject that began as a concrete experience with abstractions following at a later time, as with the Egyptian pyramids.
Each child follows the same sequence, first by exploring the concrete materials and later moving on to abstract formulae and principles. Both plane and solid geometry are explored through sensorial experience. The geometry nomenclature material provides the child vocabulary with which they can further classify their world.
Research Skills: As the children explore the cultural areas, they discover a need for research skills. The teacher serves as a guide to a variety of resources including encyclopedias, atlases, dictionaries, thesauruses, and almanacs.
The public library is also available for students doing projects requiring additional sources of information.
Art, Music, and Drama: The art program enables students to develop their skills and powers of perception to understand, communicate, evaluate, and create in a variety of art media. The program focuses on developing the ability to conceptualize and solve complex problems through the creative process, fostering self expression and personal creativity; children learn to care for, manage, and safely use materials and equipment, while developing an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of art.
The goal of the music curriculum is to give children an opportunity to participate in the joy and expression of making music as a community. They learn to identify basic tones. Through singing experiences students develop a knowledge of pitch, timing, and melody.
Sometimes the plays are real productions. More frequently, the skits are written by the children. In either case, the children gain valuable experience in props creation, costuming, stage direction and performing. The children’s drama experiences are usually expressions of something they learned in class that excited them so much they wanted to share it with others.
Physical Education: The physical education curriculum respects the body-mind connection. It responds to the children’s physical needs and their love of movement. Cooperation and community are emphasized.
The goals are to promote fitness, cultivate a positive attitude toward exercise and sports, and develop each child’s confidence.
Class Size: 26
Lower Elementary: Grades 1-3
Upper Elementary: Grades 4-6
Adult/Student Ratio: 1/13
Schedule: Monday- Friday 8:00-3:00