Motivated by a desire to understand the world around them and a love of learning, the child between the ages of three and six years experiences a dynamic curriculum in an environment that fosters independence, concentration, order, creativity, grace and courtesy.
The children’s house classroom offers long-blocks of concentrated academic time for students to work at their own pace with the right amount of challenge. Teachers carefully design a comfortable and calm classroom with the structure, order, and freedom that allows the child to move, touch, create, discover, and question.
Montessori materials invite activity through the hand, each lesson developing creative problem-solving and conveying abstract concept with concrete manipulatives. The children are able to work purposefully and productively with minimal adult interference as they perform independent tasks beginning with the simplest and moving toward the more complex. In doing this, they are able to gain a true sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Although individualized instruction is emphasized at this developmental age, group collaboration and cooperative learning are also encouraged, and children often engage in spontaneous, small-group work. The kindergarten students are afforded a balance of instructional time within their multiage classroom along with kindergarten group lessons in the areas of writers’ workshop, science and nature. From this early experience, the young child is prepared for the social and academic challenges of the elementary program.
Elementary-age children have limitless intellectual curiosity and are capable of great effort, concentration, and academic achievement. The lower elementary level is designed to utilize and strengthen these natural interests and energies within an environment that educates, inspires, and satisfies the desire to explore complex concepts and pose challenging questions.The Montessori curriculum is an integrated thematic approach that ties the separate disciplines together into studies of the physical universe, the world of nature, and the human experience.
Dr. Montessori’s term for her approach to elementary education is called “Cosmic Education”. The basis of this method yields to the young child’s developmental discovery of the greater world beyond themselves and the need to intellectually explore and understand the interconnectedness of all things.How the students learn in a Montessori classroom is as important as what they learn. Cosmic Education is rooted Five Great Lessons, which are stories that span the enormity of time and space.
These stories appeal to the child’s imagination and provide the framework from which all instruction in the subject areas emanates: 1. The Story of the Universe 2. The Coming of Life 3. The Coming of Humans 4. The Story of Communication in Signs. 5. The Story of Numbers. Each story provides a broad overview, each lesson and activity that follows invites new learning, provokes new thought, and refines each skill. Because subject matter is not taught in isolation, the aims of the curriculum are direct: question, research, investigate, analyze, refine; and they are also indirect: the assimilation of new knowledge from the content areas into theory and practice.The central theme of Cosmic Education answers how the world came to be, how life developed over millions and millions of years and then how humans came to be and learned to fulfill their needs. The Great Lessons are intended to give the students a perspective to understand their own place in the world.
The multiage elementary classroom resembles both a family and a work group. Together, students create a welcoming and accepting atmosphere while developing considerate and cooperative relationships. As they study the fundamental needs of humans in the curriculum, they are actively participants in the social progress of their own classroom, investing in one another, and challenging themselves. As they developmentally grow towards cognitive and personal organization, the students prioritize, plan, and manage their time in both their daily work and with long-term, independent projects. What they learn during this stage of development helps them as they continue on in the Upper School and into the real world.