The peaceful resolution of conflicts continues to be a goal in the Elementary classroom. The older the students become, the better they are able to resolve disputes on their own. Teachers are available to facilitate discussions between students, but props like a “talking stone” can aid students in resolving conflicts independently. Acting with grace and courtesy toward others is modeled by the adults, and courteous behavior and consideration for others is expected of Elementary students. Children can help one another remember to use polite language and that their actions affect others. Elementary students participate in a number of community service efforts over the course of the year, such as a Thanksgiving canned food drive and “Read to Feed” for Heifer International. All students are taught to be responsible to their peers and community through their words, actions, and deeds.
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The spiral curriculum of the Montessori classroom exposes students to many interrelated topics repeatedly over time. With each repetition, children build on the knowledge they already have about a topic, delving deeper into the details, seeing the connections more clearly, and ultimately developing a deep understanding of our complex world. The core of the Montessori Elementary curriculum is known as “Cosmic Education” and includes profound lessons, such as the origin of the universe, life on Earth, the emergence of humans, and the history of math and writing.
In the sixth year, the last of Elementary, students embark on a year-long activity known as Senior Project. Here, they integrate the research and academic skills that they have acquired throughout their Elementary years. Students first write a research paper on a topic of personal interest and then present an oral report on that topic to the school community.
Elementary students engage in building practical skills such as cooking, managing their materials and time, and organizing activities. Each student is accountable for completing class work in the time allotted and confers with teachers weekly to chart progress. As children move forward, they are given increasing responsibility in planning and executing their weekly tasks. In Upper Elementary, students’ practical life lessons include technology, and they learn and practice on-line research, keyboarding, email, and internet safety.
Writing with clarity and reading with fluency are important goals of the language curriculum. In reading, students continue to work on decoding and fluency, semantics and syntax, vocabulary, literature and genres, and research skills. Writing focuses on composing words, the writing process, the mechanics of handwriting and keyboarding, conventions and punctuation, spelling, and organizing ideas. Grammar topics include parts of speech, sentence analysis, and advanced verb study.
An understanding of the process takes precedence over memorization in the math curriculum. Concepts are first presented in the most concrete way possible with materials. This supports students as they grow to understand facts and concepts and eventually shift to abstraction. Topics include basic operations, word problems, estimation, fractions and decimals, solving for an unknown, lines and angles, plane figures, math facts tables, squares and cubes, positive and negative integers, mixed numbers, triangles and circles, calculation of area, the volume of prisms, and the theorem of Pythagoras.
Students continue to study geography in more detail. The structure of the Earth, physical geography, political geography, and mapping are included in the Elementary curriculum. The history and social studies curriculum strives to introduce ideas that students can really ponder. The origin of the universe, the formation of Earth, the fundamental needs of human beings, the history of writing, the measurement of time, early and modern humans, ancient civilizations, and American history are all introduced and studied.
Students are introduced to many ideas and topics in science over the course of the Elementary years. Some introductory topics include chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, and meteorology. More advanced study includes the scientific method, the periodic table of elements, atomic structure, biochemistry, photosynthesis, mechanics, electricity, and human biophysics. Topics in biology include the comparative study of vertebrates, botany, classification, microbiology, evolutionary biology, and human biology.
The Library supports the curriculum and educational programs of our Elementary students, helping them expand their knowledge base and providing meaningful lessons in the use and practices of a library. Students learn to locate resources and conduct research to deepen their understanding of particular topics.
Elementary students have more frequent lessons and study Spanish grammar, writing, and conversation as well as the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Elementary native Spanish-speakers have a separate, level-appropriate class.
Creative expression is essential in a Montessori education. To help nurture their creativity, Elementary students experiment in the Art Studio with different techniques and mediums through direct instruction and hands-on practice. Lower Elementary children enjoy Art History lessons during their school day. These experiences help students appreciate each medium’s unique qualities and expose children to various artists, movements, and periods using games and critiques.
Elementary students study concepts such as beat, meter, rhythm, tempo, and pitch recognition and develop the ability to listen to, discover, and understand rhythmic and harmonic elements. Second- and Third-Year students practice the recorder in addition to their Music class. Students regularly demonstrate their performance skills for the entire school community at Community Meeting and the Elementary Spring Concert.
Theater Arts expands the abilities of Elementary students to understand others and communicate through language and action. Theater activities require students to take risks, make decisions, and develop a focused awareness of who and what is around them. Dance, music, visual art through improvisation, storytelling, mime, playmaking and playwriting, directing, management, design, and technical theater are all used to enrich the classroom experience. Elementary students showcase their talents at the Fall Festive Performance and the springtime Upper Elementary Play.
Cooperative games, teamwork, movement, and athletic skills are the pillars of the Physical Education program. Each child has an opportunity to grow and excel as an individual and a member of a group through a variety of games and athletic activities during regular Physical Education classes. The wintertime brings “Ski School” to the Elementary Program, and students participate in group skiing or snowboarding lessons at a nearby skiing area. In addition, a variety of athletic clubs are offered after school for students.
Elementary students enjoy a variety of off-campus experiences, traveling to places such as the Harvard Peabody Museum and the New England Aquarium. Overnight camping trips are a wonderful Elementary tradition and provide a unique opportunity for children to learn about nature, practice independence, and bond with one another. Older children act as mentors and leaders for younger children and help build and strengthen a sense of community. Lower Elementary students travel to “Nature’s Classroom,” and Upper Elementary students travel to “Kroka Expeditions.”