The Montessori Elementary Classroom is designed for children with previous Montessori experience. When considering an elementary student new to the school, the child will visit and the Elementary Teacher will assess academic skills and readiness for the independence and responsibility of working in a Montessori Elementary Classroom.
The Montessori elementary classroom builds upon the primary experience. As in primary, the elementary classroom’s materials are a means to an end. They are intended to evoke the imagination, to aid abstraction, to generate a world view about the human task and purpose.
The elementary child works within a philosophical system asking questions about the origins of the universe, the nature of life, people and their differences, and so on. On a factual basis, interdisciplinary studies combine geological, biological, and anthropological sciences in the study of natural history and world ecology.
The environment reflects a new stage of development and offers the following:
- Integration of the arts, sciences, geography, history, and language that evokes the native imagination and abstraction of the elementary child.
- Presentation of knowledge as part of a large-scale narrative that unfolds the origins of the earth, life, human communities, and modern history, always in the context of the wholeness of life.
- Presentation of the formal scientific language of zoology, botany, anthropology, geography, geology, etc., exposing the child to accurate, organized information and respecting the child’s intelligence and interests.
- The use of timelines, pictures, charts, and other visual aids to provide a linguistic and visual overview of the first principles of each discipline.
- A mathematics curriculum presented with concrete materials that simultaneously reveal arithmetic, geometric, and algebraic correlations.
- Montessori-trained adults who are “enlightened generalists” (teachers who are able to integrate the teaching of all subjects, not as isolated disciplines, but as part of a whole intellectual tradition).
- Emphasis on open-ended research and in-depth study using primary and secondary sources (no textbooks or worksheets) as well as other materials.
- “Going out” to make use of community resources beyond the four walls of the classroom.
The Great Lessons
The elementary program is made up of connective narratives known as “the Great Lessons.” The Great Lessons span the history of the universe, from the origin of the solar system, earth, and life forms to the emergence of human cultures and the rise of civilization. The child’s study of detail, put in chronology and context through reference to the Great Lessons, timelines and impressionistic charts, leads to awe and respect for the totality of knowledge.
Studies are integrated, not only in terms of subject matter but in terms of moral learning as well. Through interaction with classmates, and guidance of the teacher, the Montessori elementary student develops appreciation and respect for life, social responsibility, respect for oneself and others, empathy, appreciation of the contribution of the individual, and a strong sense of justice.