The age of imagination
Montessori: The Elementary Years
The Montessori Elementary Program provides the six- to twelve-year-old child limitless opportunities to apply his great powers of imagination and capacity for hard work. The deeper concentration, increased attention span, good organizational skills and self-direction that are often a result of the Montessori Early Childhood classroom allow these children to take on some rather complex projects.
The Elementary child is also ready for the transition from concrete to abstract thinking. As the basic skills of math and reading are mastered, the advanced Montessori materials and unique Cosmic Curriculum introduce the children to new dimensions in learning.
Content-rich, hands-on curriculum
The Montessori Elementary classroom is a resource center to be used by the student/scientist to research any field of knowledge. Our goal is to inspire students and to encourage creative exploration. Montessori teachers provide a rich and diverse assortment of experiments, concrete manipulative activities, and ample time and tools to research topics that students want to explore at deeper levels.
Our cultural lessons integrate history, geography and science. Children are introduced to the whole universe through the First Great Lesson which leads to studies in astrophysics, astronomy, and chemistry. Further impressionistic lessons lead students through the coming of life on Earth, the arrival of humans and the development of mathematics and language. Receiving this information through a sequenced, historical perspective provides a solid framework on which future knowledge can be built. This work enhances the child’s sense of place in the world and awareness of the interconnectedness of all things.
The ingenious sequence of Montessori math manipulative materials allows children to develop a concrete understanding of abstract concepts. Students also have many opportunities to apply their strong math skills to other subject areas and to real life situations.
Writing, art and music are integrated with all curriculum areas and are also presented as independent subjects for skill development. In addition, these subjects serve as outlets for creativity and personal expression.
The elementary level also includes field trips and specialist classes such as Spanish, art, music and physical education. Field trips are selected to further enhance the classroom activities and expand students’ self-confidence and independence.
Individual pacing, in multi-age classrooms
In multi-age classrooms, WMS students enjoy the opportunity to move at their own pace. Students continue to benefit from the many levels of ability and interest in each room. Children of diverse skills and ages are able to assume the role of teacher or learner, leader or follower depending on their level of mastery. Students spend as much time as they need to gain mastery in a given area. Since students are accountable for working in all subject areas, they eventually come to develop mature time management and organizational skills.
The constant encouragement to collaborate and assist each other engenders an atmosphere that is cooperative rather than competitive. The prevailing attitude is that learning is interesting and that problems can be solved by teamwork.
Ample opportunity to interact with teachers ensures that children’s progress is being constantly assessed and that lessons are adapted to fit the individual learner.
Community consciousness and global awareness
Elementary age children are increasingly absorbed in understanding their place in the social world as they mature and develop a moral sense. Their thinking is pervaded with concerns about right and wrong, fair and unfair.
In classroom studies, children are first given a sense of their place and responsibilities as members of the global community, then their role as citizens of their country, members of their family and members of their classroom. Respect for the diversity inherent in the human family comes from knowledge and understanding. Regular class meetings are held to develop communication skills, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution techniques, and positive social values.
Understanding the interrelatedness of all things and seeing themselves as citizens of the world helps students develop a strong commitment to the environment. This is reinforced through the many ongoing environmental and life science studies. Community and environmental service projects, both local and global, are also a regular part of WMS life.
“To do well, it is necessary to aim at giving the elementary age child an idea of all fields of study, not in precise detail, but on impression. The idea is to sow the seeds of knowledge at this age, when a sort of sensitive period for the imagination exists.”
– Maria Montessori