Elementary (ages 6-9 years)
Our Elementary classroom strikes a fine balance between systems and spontaneity to help foster in the student both accountability and a love of learning. In this environment, children ages 6 through 9 learn to balance assigned work with self-guided follow-up. Students learn to manage their time while taking responsibility for the work that is expected of them.
Maria Montessori spoke of the elementary years as those where students needed only to have their imagination sparked. At this time in their lives, children are eager to know the why of everything. With the foundation of their early childhood years behind them, students are ready to take off with new knowledge. Elementary then is a time to instill a lifelong love of learning and help students take responsibility for that learning.
Unlike a traditional classroom with the teacher as the focal point, Montessori elementary classrooms are child-centered. Children are given lessons in small groups or individually. They work independently or with other students who have received the same lesson. Teachers are available to help guide students’ activities and assist them when needed.
Systems and Spontaneity
The Elementary prepared environment includes systems and tools designed to promote organizational skills and accountability. Students use work journals to record their lessons and work; as they grow in maturity, students use this process to take responsibility for their work and their time in the classroom.
Students are given daily and weekly goals, both on a classroom and individual level. Goals help students keep focused on the work they need to complete throughout the day and week. Individual goals are determined through teacher-student collaboration. Students meet one on one with teachers once a week to review the week’s work and plan for next week.
Following the Montessori principle of freedom within limits, students have the opportunity to choose their own follow-up activities to lessons. Since a variety of materials are used to teach a central concept, follow-up activities are varied and personal as students demonstrate mastery of a topic while pursing their own interest.
Scope of Work
The scope and pace of study in subject areas such as Math, Geometry, and Language Arts are individualized based on the student’s need. An excellent teacher to student ratio allows time for children to have small group and one on one lessons in these areas.
The sciences, history and geography expand throughout the Elementary years as students spend more time with longer range experiments, project, and research. Students work through a curriculum cycle so that in their time in Elementary they work on Physics, Biomes and Ecology, Animal and Plant Classification, Cell Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry in the Sciences, and Ancient Civilizations, Medieval Europe, Explorers, Colonial America, Settlers, and Michigan, in History and Geography. In Geography students cover physical earth, political geography, and geology.
As children mature Practical Life continues to focus on taking care of oneself and environment, but what started as polishing and pouring is now taking initiative to request necessary lessons, planning one’s work week, asking for help when needed. These life skills prepare students to take on the responsibilities that come in adolescence and eventually adulthood.
Elementary students take part in various enrichment classes that include Music, Art, Spanish, Physical Education and Children and Worship. Additionally, elementary students have multiple “going out” experiences to various locations that complement their classroom studies, including community service work. Community service work fosters an understanding of contributing to the society they are living in and that their contribution does make a difference!
-Dr. Maria Montessori