All About Elementary
Around age six, the child enters what Montessorians call the second plane of development.. During this stage from ages six to twelve, the child develops a reasoning mind. It is a time of uniform growth where the child is growing in intellectual independence by exploring the ideas and information provided in the world around them. In the first plane of development, the child is getting to know the world by asking "what" questions. In the second plan of development, the child is reaching deeper, seeking the how and the why.
The elementary child begins to explore the power of their imagination as a tool for learning and exploration. They need to hear stories of greatness, goodness, and moral values. The mind of the elementary child concerns itself with building a conscience, their own inner sense of what is right and wrong. During this period of growth, children need to know that the adults in their lives love, respect, and understand them.
Children in the second plane of development are no longer solitary beings. They now tend to gravitate towards others in their environment. Around the age of six, children begin to become more interested in their classmates and are learning how to get along. They start to choose to work with others on projects of mutual interest. By eleven or twelve, most students prefer to work with others rather than individually.
The Great Lessons
Most areas of study in the Montessori Elementary classroom are introduced through what Maria Montessori called, "The Five Great Lessons".
To understand how the Great Lessons build the curriculum, let's take a look at the first Great Lesson. The first Great Lesson is about the beginning of the universe. From this Great Lesson, children have the opportunity to learn about the life of a star, the periodic table of elements, the parts of the atom, and the planets. Children then begin studying the beginning of Earth and the eras of Earth’s history. From there, children learn about the history of early humans and the different early hominid species leading up to our own homo sapiens. Children are encouraged to delve deeper into any of these areas of study through their own research and projects.
Learning is interdisciplinary and interconnected. Although there are specific subject areas of math, language, science, and social studies, lessons are taught congruently. Children learn the "big picture" and continue with increasing depth and higher level of challenge each year.
Going outs are the Montessori elementary version of a field trip. However, unlike traditional field trips, going outs are planned by the children. Based on individual or group interest, a trip is thought of, researched, and planned out by children in the class. Often, Going Outs are designed around a child's current interest or to further research for a project. Going outs are varied and can range from taking the metro to the Smithsonian museums, going to the grocery store to purchase items for a bake sale, rock climbing, or a camping trip to Assateague Island.
The Elementary community is like one big family. Students are often cooking or baking for the community in between their other rigorous academic endeavors. These pursuits enable them to relax and learn and rejuvenate for the abstract experiences of more traditional lessons. They grow food in their garden and often sell the produce as a means of paying for other events. For example, the elementary community has grown vegetables or baked cookies to sell to parents in order to raise money for the annual Montessori Model UN trip that the older students take. This enables the younger children to participate in this coveted experience even before they are ready to go themselves.
The elementary language curriculum includes (but is not limited to) the following aspects of language study:
- Parts of speech
- Sentence structure
- Clause analysis
- Dictionary and research skills
- Word study
- Exploration of various types of literature including poetry, drama, fiction, and non-fiction
The math curriculum covers topics such as:
- Place value and the basic laws of mathematics
- Multiples, factors, and divisibility
- Long +, x, -, division
- Fractions, decimals, and percentages
- Squaring, cubing, square root and cube root
- Positive and negative integers
- Pre-algebra as well as algebra
- Word problems and real world application
- Ration, proportion, and measurement in multiple systems.
- Congruence, similarity, and equivalence
- Classifying polygons
- Line and angle nomenclature
- Pythagorean Theorem
- Euclidean Theorem
- Area of different polygons
- Volume of 3D solids
- Parts of a circle
- Circumference and area of a circle
The science curriculum involves experiments, scientific observation and journaling, scientific illustration, and outdoor education. Areas of study include:
- Biological History Timeline
- Classifying Plants and Animals
- The Human Body
Geography and Earth Science
- Geologic history
- Composition of the Earth
- States of matter
- Erosion: Air, water
- Water forms and their effect on the planet
- Economic Geography: resources and interdependence
Areas of study include:
- Geologic Eras of history
- Early/prehistoric humans
- Fundamental Human Needs
- Three Phases of History
- Migration/patterns of history
- Early Civilizations
- American History