At the Lower Elementary level, children learn in mixed-age classrooms, as they did in the Montessori three-to-six classroom. The Lower Elementary class is designed to meet the needs of children from ages six-to-nine. Our emphasis is on experience and exploration. Children in a Montessori classroom learn by doing, hence, the classroom is rich in materials and resources.
Lower Elementary school children are in a period of rapid intellectual growth as they develop abstract operational thought. In an environment which supports and nurtures intellectual, physical, social and emotional development; Montessori students take an active part in, and responsibility for their own education.
Our language goals are to enhance your child’s skills in reading, writing, comprehension, speaking and listening; and to provide connections with history, literature, science, math and geography lessons.
Reading: A great deal of controversy surrounds the teaching of reading in the United States today. Are your children following a “whole language” approach or mastering reading with old-fashioned phonics? In our classroom, no such distinction is made. Children learn to read naturally and “organically” as reading is integrated into every facet of the classroom. Children coming from our three-to-six program have experienced phonics and word recognition. This foundation is continually strengthened through the use of our Elementary language materials.
Writing: Creative writing allows the student to express thoughts before spelling and grammar are mastered. As the student’s skills progress, sentence structure becomes more complex, spelling improves, and story-writing skills develop. Students will have a great opportunity to write through:
• Book reports
• Variety of research forms
• Creative writing
Grammar: Students study the parts of speech and their functions using classic Montessori materials such as grammar boxes. Definitions and symbols are correlated with each parts of speech. Grammar studies are integrated to reinforce work the child already mastered.
Spelling: When a student is reading fluently, he/she begins a weekly routine of spelling. Students study word families, create spelling lists, study word origins and meanings, and test their spelling skills. Nomenclature and sight words are practiced.
Penmanship: Penmanship is important and is emphasized throughout the Elementary Classroom. Not only do the children have handwriting practice sheets, but they strive to complete all of their work neatly and legibly with letters that are formed correctly.
Our math materials in the Elementary classroom allow the children to gain complete understanding of the math process and to build a strong foundation for math. The Elementary math concepts are taught initially through concrete experiences. Children use materials they can manipulate, such as golden beads, memorization boards, and fraction circles. The materials become more abstract as understanding develops. Children first learn to work with basic math problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They soon progress into the memorization of facts, using materials such as multiplication boards, flash cards and games.
Repetition is a naturally occurring experience. Our Montessori math materials allow our students to develop an in-depth understanding of math concepts, while also memorizing math facts. Our students work at their own pace while receiving individual and small group lessons.
Our students in the lower elementary classroom acquire a complete understanding of the four basic processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). We will also work with measurement, fractions, estimation, probability, word problems, factoring and decimals over the course of three years.
Geometry is an important part of every Montessori classroom. After all, what is geometry but the measurement of everything the world?
Comprehensive geometry studies begin with experiences with the line and its parts and continue through studies of angles, polygons, triangles, quadrilaterals, circle area and volume. The concepts of similarity, congruency and equivalency will also be studied.
Maria Montessori described the child at the age of six as one who is ready to explore the universe. The subjects of history, geography, and sciences give the child an opportunity to accomplish this task. In many ways, history is the core of the Elementary curriculum. History is taught from the big picture to the small. The child begins with the study of the universe and ends up with the study of the specific peoples and cultures.
History begins with the concept of the passage of time, then geologic time and the study of civilizations throughout history. We will explore the fundamental needs of all people.
Montessori children love geography. What child wouldn’t who could work with such beautiful materials? Our geography studies are combined with history and science. Students learn about many different cultures as they learn about other countries. We will also study the evolution of geography since the formation of the earth. Activities include drawing maps and identifying countries, oceans, flora and fauna native to each continent.
Our science experiments are designed to give the child the basic knowledge which will lay the foundation for understanding the development of the solar system, the earth and its configurations, life on earth and the needs of plants and animals.
Although each plant and animal on the earth seems to be selfishly taking what it needs for its own survival, each takes only what it needs and, in return, makes a contribution to the ecological whole. Montessori calls this the cosmic task.
Throughout the course of three years the child will be exposed to zoology, botany, and physical science. The science curriculum asks the children to think like scientists – to observe, question and predict. Children study animal groups, classification of animals and conduct basic experiments. For example, a density experiment will study different types of liquid, matter and solids. In addition, our 11-acre outdoor environment is an excellent resource for our science studies. Our science curriculum involves outdoor observations of leaves, seeds and plants.
Practical Life Curriculum
Practical Life is one of the most important parts of the curriculum. In our Elementary classroom, practical life means caring for the environment completely. The students clean the room daily. In addition, our classroom has a number of animals and plants for which the children are responsible.
Elementary students also begin “going out.” Field trips are a chance to begin to develop the skills necessary in the real world. One learns about museums and how to behave in a museum by visiting one. The children also attend a number of stage productions each year, during which they learn to be an audience member.
Students participate in weekly art classes. In addition to working with various mediums, the children are introduced to art history and studies of the masters.
Our students participate in a music program that is based on traditional West African percussion. In addition to learning the rhythms and music, they are also exposed to the rich culture of West Africa.
Rounding out the lower Elementary curriculum are weekly Spanish classes.