The Montessori Upper Elementary program is the culmination of the child’s experience as a Montessori student. This unique program is designed to meet and serve the needs of children during this period of tremendous personal growth and change.
A Montessori Upper Elementary Program, for the 12-15 year old, is built on the foundations of the Lower Elementary.
Students are expected to bring a high level of independence and self-direction, a comfort with collaborative work, and a love of learning for learning’s sake. Students treat each other with respect and are comfortable with the knowledge that each person has different strengths and challenges. The manipulative materials of the lower elementary level are rarely present, as adolescents have moved beyond their applications and are now solidly comfortable with the more adult learning techniques of reading, discussion and application to a task.
The program is designed to respond to the sensitivities of this age: personal dignity, social justice and belonging.
The positive sense of belonging is nurtured through responsibilities that adequately match the capabilities of the adolescent, and through work that has clear purpose. The adolescents work side-by-side with an increased number of adults to engage in the immediate needs of the community: chores of dishwashing, sweeping, weeding, feeding the animals, volunteering, etc.
Students continue as agents of their own learning.
Montessori adolescents continue to learn without letter grades or gold stars. Conversations with teachers and written remarks on papers compliment the most important barometer of success: the student’s own knowledge that he has put forth his best effort. The mixed-age class supports each student in applying himself in a unique way to a group experience.
The Upper Elementary curriculum is “society” and relates to the needs of the particular community.
While traditional education often teaches facts that are isolated from life outside the classroom, the Montessori Upper Elementary program offers lessons with practical applications that allow students to make improvements within the community. “What will I use this for?” is an often-asked question of the adolescent, as he is determined to use knowledge to do something in the world. Projects such as building and maintaining a large garden, or baking bread are real world opportunities for many lessons in science, language and practical life skills.