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.
Lower Elementary students continue their exploration of the Spanish language through topics that intersect their classroom studies and personal experiences. Greetings, expressions of courtesy, simple dialogues, playful rhymes and songs are complements to their beginning work of reading and writing in Spanish.
Starting in Upper Elementary, there is an increasingly structured approach to Spanish study. At this level of student development, the four basic skills of language acquisition: reading, writing, listening and speaking, are expanded. The curriculum is guided by a monthly outline that features a different theme, grammar concept and regional focus. Over the course of the year, the rich diversity of Spanish speaking cultures is discovered through projects and crafts, authentic literary and audio-visual sources, and music. Students reinforce their vocabulary and expand their conversation through word games, mixed activities and role play.
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.