Elementary:an emphasis on thinking skills
The Montessori elementary program provides children a unique opportunity for growth. The imaginative, social and creative child craves an environment that offers appropriate freedom and boundaries, with an extensive curriculum to support their curiosity and prepare them for the challenges of the future.
Characteristics of the 6 to 12 years old child
Imagination & Reasoning
"The imagination is the eye that allows the child to see into the past and into the future." - Maria Montessori
Children aged 6 to 12 no longer just want to know the "what is it?", they will begin to question the "why" and "how" and the connections between. They are able to use both imagination and reason to explore concepts beyond the here and now.
Children aged 3 to 6 get to know themselves and the world through their "absorbing mind". Children between the ages of 6 and 12 continue this exploration, but in relation to society as a whole. The child's thoughts become more complex, such as, "I want to understand what I do not see, to be part of the world that I did not know". Elementary school children are very social and interested in issues such as cooperation, fairness and decision making.
Desire to belong
Children in elementary school rarely work alone. This is the age of groups and clubs - what Montessori calls "the herd instinct". Children yearn to do what others are doing as they explore friendships and societal rules. Group lessons with collaborative work and discussions are important parts of the learning process. By collaborating on projects, children learn to identify and share their particular strengths and skills. By participating in activities that encourage group work and conflict resolution, children learn skills that encourage the art of peacemaking.
Exploring good and evil
Elementary school children love to challenge and set rules. Even though they don't always play by the rules themselves, they are constantly observing to make sure everyone else is. Teachers help the child determine how to act in different situations, to learn the basic rules of civility and to understand what is considered good and bad by society.
Discipline and Problem Solving
Our approach to discipline is to help children learn that they are responsible for their actions and that their actions have consequences. Whether the problem is between two people or the whole class, teachers aid children to be independent problem solvers.
Maria Montessori called the elementary education program "cosmic education" due to it's aim to expose children to a full range of human knowledge, using an integrated approach to learning placed in a worldly context.
The framework of the elementary curriculum is established with an overview of the history of the universe. By studying ancient civilizations, children discover that all aspects of knowledge are fundamental; including math, language, history, botany, geography, music, and art. This understanding fosters a love of learning and a desire to take their place as active members of the community.
During the 6 to 9 year period, lessons are primarily presented using Montessori materials and exercises. The transition to more critical thinking and the use of books and other research material begins at this level and continues through the elementary years. The teacher and student go through lessons and homework together, the goal being that students assess their own learning. Parent-teacher meetings take place regularly throughout the year.
Mathematics and geometry
Mathematics is taught as a process of understanding through visualized abstractions. This is the main reason for using various learning materials, as children spontaneously understand the process. A child might say, "I can do the checkerboard without the checkerboard" - meaning that he or she can multiply in an abstract way without depending on the materials. During the elementary years, children focus on basic operations, the decimal system, fractions, and geometry. Some concepts of algebra, such as the square and the cube, are also explored.
Language arts focuses on spelling, grammar and sentence analysis. Reading skills learned from the ages of 3-6 are continuously improved through direct classroom applications, such as literature, poetry and book discussion groups.
Children are explorers and want to understand how the world around us was created. It is through experiences and outings that children will develop a scientific mind and begin to understand geographical concepts; the relationship between the Earth and the sun, the importance of air and water...
Children study the origin of life, plants and animals. Gardening and taking care of living organisms is an essential experience. According to Montessori, "taking care of living things on a daily basis satisfies one of the keenest instincts of the (young) mind. Nothing is better calculated than that to awaken an attitude of respect."
In this stage of development, the child learns to situate himself in time. They question the history of humanity and we accompany them as they learn. We are also interested in unknown heroes, everyday people who have contributed to our present life. We discuss the basic needs of human beings and how we have always adapted to our natural environments.
Research projects and critical thinking
Research methods and the development of critical thinking are introduced, we also encouraging independent and group study. In this process, the library, computer and other reference materials become important resources.
Children are encouraged to go beyond the confines of the classroom to seek answers to their questions using community resources such as libraries, museums and knowledgeable experts. Results gained from their research can be presented through written reports, poetry, works of art and demonstrations.