Academics

Upper School

Upper Elementary (Grades 4-6)

Older children come to Upper Elementary with a mastery of basic skills for learning and living. They are prepared to put their combined academics and independence into practice and benefit from a blend of purposeful academic lessons and project-based learning. During these three years of development, they build an internalized understanding of complex concepts through engaging classroom lessons, real-life application, and problem-solving skills. A Harborlight education challenges the pre- adolescent child to grow their knowledge and knowhow across every academic discipline.

Dr. Maria Montessori

To assist a child, we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely.

Student Work Environment

The classroom work environment is supportive and inclusive. Taking advantage of the three-hour work period in the morning allows for uninterrupted time and individual attention from teachers. A new student work ethic emerges at this level with a focus on self-directed independent work, project-based activities, choosing meaningful work responsibly, and scheduling time with their work partners.

Teachers

Teachers brings individual attention and support to children so that they are internally motivated to pursue their own goals and go far beyond the typical curriculum requirements and expectations. Learning to accept challenge, manage time effectively, set goals and deadlines, and work with quiet, deep concentration or with the energy for problem-solving collaboration are all practical skills that are developed within the structure of our Upper Elementary program.

Thought & Expression

The period of time between fourth and sixth grade are for learning to think critically, read analytically, speak articulately and write persuasively. Cosmic Education and The Great Lessons (see Lower Elementary for details) continue into the Upper School curriculum. Advanced Cosmic Education provides a holistic, organized and integrated curriculum framework in which children learn academic skills across all curriculum content areas. These advanced lessons are rigorously plotted within the daily schedule of lessons, independent work time, formal assignments, Socratic seminar, and interdisciplinary projects.

Outside the Classroom

Learning outside of the classroom is an essential part of the educational model at Harborlight, in Montessori we call this “Going Out”. Inviting experts in their field to lecture or instruct inside the classroom or talking the children off-campus is very different from a traditional guest speaker or field trip. Going Out is instrumental in launching and supporting on-going units of study for the purpose of extending research and experiences in the world outside of the classroom. Upper elementary children enjoys coming to school and upon completion emerge independent, resourceful, self- confident and ready for what comes next.

Upper Elementary Curriculum

List of 5 items.

  • Practicals

    At this age, students develop a sense of self in relationship to others. This is when they refine their social graces, conflict resolution, respect for others, tolerance, responsibility for community environment, service learning, personal responsibility, organization and time management. As upper elementary children develop skills across the curriculum, they are also finding new ways skills they can develop through concentration, repetition and practice. Practicals include culinary, planning trips off campus, knitting, greenhouse, running a microeconomy, and community service. Their interest in what they can learn and share with others brings a feeling of accomplishment. During these three years of development they become more refined in social graces, conflict resolution, respect for others, tolerance, responsibility for community environment, service learning, personal responsibility, organization and time management.
  • Social-Emotional Learning

    Social-emotional learning is inherent within the Montessori Peace Curriculum and woven into daily practice in the life of the Upper Elementary program. Going beyond morning meeting, the curriculum incorporates Open Circle lessons, large and small group discussions, mindfulness activities and high-quality literature to explore the themes of: themes: appreciating differences, positive self-talk, including one another, speaking up, giving and receiving compliments, overcoming obstacles, being a positive leader, bystander and ally behaviors, and evaluating solutions.
  • Math

    Upper Elementary math is individualized according to ability level and self-paced to enable children to achieve facts and procedure mastery, as well as a deep, conceptual understanding of math concepts. Most importantly, upper elementary children discover the joy of thinking mathematically and are eager to tackle challenging problems. The math course includes number systems, symbols, operations, geometry, measurement, data sets and graphing, relationships and patterns and inquiry-based math explorations. Class projects and manipulatives are integral to the Montessori curriculum.
  • Language Arts

    During this plane of development, children begin to express complex thoughts and connect personally to the reading and writing process. The Language Arts curriculum over the three-year cycle builds on reading fluency and foundational writing skills to focus on comprehension and written and oral expression. The goal is for children to become proficient readers, writers, speakers, and presenters. Skills building content including spelling, grammar, vocabulary and note-taking are individualized based on ability level. As Upper Elementary children begin to define their own identity and practice a wide range of forms of expression, they develop an appreciation for effective communication.
  • Natural World

    Further study in the Natural World and Science Lab includes inquiry-based and project or lab-oriented studies in: the scientific process, methodology, and relationships in the fields of Zoology, Biology, Botany, Human Biology and Health, Ecology, Physics, Geology, Weather and Climate, Space, and Chemistry.

List of 5 items.

  • Social World

    Learning across the social world curriculum, upper elementary children explore and develop and awareness of history, current global events, geography, and civics. Classroom discussions are rich and guide investigation and research of a variety of integrated topics to explore and present informally to the class.
  • Physical Education

    With the philosophy of health and fitness for life, children at this level embrace both competitive and cooperative games and activities in the out of doors. Gym class rotations include project-adventure, hiking, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, kayaking, snowshoeing or ice skating, yoga, individual fitness testing and achievement. Rising into the 6 th grade year affords the opportunity to take winter downhill skiing and snowboarding with the middle school.
  • World Languages

    Continuing in the World Language (Mandarin or Spanish) at this level is a study of communication, culture, and communities. Using the fundamental structures of the language, upper elementary children engage in conversations, directed dialogue, and oral presentations or skits. Beginning to read short passages and write personal narratives are activities that support components of grammar, spelling, and language fluency.
  • Visual Arts

    Children rise to the upper school level with a wealth of art knowledge and awareness. They are prepared to deepen their visual literacy and gain a higher level of skill for evaluating artwork from various artists and across genres. Lessons inspire and challenge the children to explore a variety of media and creative approaches. The Art teacher encourages children to take risks, make mistakes, innovate, and design on their journey to establishing their own personal definition or art and identity as an artist. Open Art Studio is available to children who wish to further their art instruction and practice or have an independent project they wish to pursue.
  • Performing Arts

    The performing arts curriculum includes Concert Band, Chorus, and Theatre Arts. Beginning in grade 4, children may choose between Concert Band and Chorus. Both music classes are year-long electives. Beginner Band is for students between 4th and 8th grade who are little to no experience with a band instrument. They are introduced to the instruments of the band and will learn through both individual and ensemble lessons. Advanced Band is for students 4th through 8th grade with 1-3 years experience on their instrument or with the Director’s approval. Both groups concentrate on teaching the many aspects of instrumental music and performance. Concerts on and off campus during the year are scheduled seasonally. Theatre Arts is designed for all Upper Elementary children to learn theatre games and have the chance to explore a variety of repertoire and roles of acting, design and production, musical theatre. Performances on and off campus provide the opportunity to apply techniques learned in the course in productions both small and large.

Middle School (Grades 7-9)

Adolescence is a critical plane of development; the final walk in the Harborlight journey towards adulthood. It is during this phase when Harborlight relies on what we call “The three-legged stool” model, The: Teacher – Parent – Student Triad. Middle schoolers grow deeper social relationships and develop a greater sense of autonomy. They desire more personal responsibility and take risks that employ real-world problem-solving and critical thinking skills. It is a period of transformation, growth, and development. It is why our small school model is known for exceptionally preparing middle schoolers for their next school and adventures.
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Harborlight teachers uniquely implement authentic Montessori education (philosophy + curriculum). Our faculty writes and adapts their own original Montessori curriculum to the children in front of them each academic year. This offers children the support, time, space and need to explore who they are in their personal world and academic environment. This method includes giving space and time for the development of identity, learner pursuits, and how to engage as a member of the greater community with encouragement to pursue their passions and a commitment to bring about the best in others. 
 
The weekly schedule and structure of the day for the middle schooler allows children ample time for deep thinking and complex work. Rather than switching rooms and switching between subjects during the day, long blocks of classroom work time are dedicated to subject specific content and blended with interspersed blocks of time for what we call ‘directed work’. Directed work supports student time to dive into their assignments directly after a class, ask for guidance from a peer or a teacher, concentrate on getting their work done, and leaves room in their day to get a jump on upcoming assignments, study-time. Most importantly, built into the daily schedule is time to reflect on and review their learning with a teacher, record their completed assignments, and re-organize their goals and calendar of activities and deadlines.  
 
Middle School children are each in pursuit of their place in the world. They begin to form values, goals, and aspirations that will shape their future lives. Harborlight grounds them, guides them, and encourages them to be the persons they are becoming: independent, intelligent, capable, social, responsible, creative, and unique individuals.

Middle School Curriculum

List of 5 items.

  • Practicals

    Purposeful work and real-life learning take place in the classroom environment as well as beyond the walls of the school and campus. The adolescent takes great pride in their work to acquire the real-life skills that they can share with the school and greater community. Practicals include the ‘stock-market game’, culinary courses, recycling and composting, greenhouse, the pizza business (microeconomy used for fundraising), and service learning projects.
  • Social-Emotional Learning

    Using a balance of programs including 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens (Covey) and The Heroic Journey(Campbell) middle school children have guided and independent lessons and projects that develop skills of: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, social awareness and relationship skills.
  • Language Arts

    This curriculum builds on the strong foundation developed in: spelling, rich vocabulary, knowledge and use of grammar, and apply these skills toward their writing. Middle school language arts follows the topics of studies in Humanities and includes literature, writing, research, and oral communication. Aligned with Common Core standards for reading, literature study has two overarching goals: 1. Using literature to deeply the topic of study from many perspectives. Children read high-quality, full-length literature.  Timeless works with universally relevant conflicts and meaningful themes are carefully selected to deepen their understanding of history, other people, global current events; 2. Literary study brings children to experience reading as an exciting journey with characters to meet and to explore conflict, cultural values, and moral choices.
  • Math

    Middle school math is flexible to small group learning and supports each student moving into a course of study when ready rather than waiting for the next term or new school year. Math continues the spiral of content from standard materials, including text books, online course supports for independent study of math, pre-algebra, algebra and geometry.
  • Science

    The middle school science curriculum is a two-year course of study that focuses on both process and content with an emphasis on applying principles of math, observation, and experimentation to their research and hands-on lab or field experiments. Comprehensive science topics include earth science, life science, human biology, chemistry, and physics. Science requires an engagement in the process, learning how to aplly the scientific method, take notes and write lab journal entries, present research and conduct field studies on environmental impact.

List of 5 items.

  • Social World

    Designed to expand upon prior learning, Social world introduces advanced study of geography and world cultures. This two-year course of study helps children master important concepts in physical and human geography. Comprehensive and organized by region the course includes a deep understanding of the Earth’s physical and human diversity. Topics include population and settlement patterns, evaluation of human activities that modify the physical environment, fundamental human needs and comparison of development, standards of living, systems of government, and economic factors across the globe. Social World bring a rich understanding of global cultures and historical influences that shape the world and modern issues.
  • Physical Education

    Group games and activities allow middle schoolers to set and work towards individual physical goals as well as develop positive relationships through encouraging and supporting peers to set and meet their goals. A highlight experience is the downhill skiing and snowboarding winter term when the class works on an abbreviated/4-day academic schedule affording them a full-day for physical education.
  • Visual Arts

    A robust visual arts course is offered in middle school that inspires them to express their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. At the beginning of each new topic to explore, the art teacher brings a microlesson in art history, art appreciation, critical thinking and criticism to the group. Children expand on their elementary foundation in understanding and skills in the visual arts in an exploratory manner consistent with the 
    Montessori philosophy and curriculum. Creative expression in visual arts through drawing, sculpting, painting, ceramics, and digital media are presented in the art show.
  • World Languages

    Middle school is a time to enhance proficiency in the World Language (Mandarin or Spanish). Individual and small group work will focus on the study of grammar, interpersonal communication, and culture. Activities will expand listening comprehension, oral fluency, written expression and ability to communicate about real-world experiences on a variety of topics.
  • Performing Arts

    The performing arts curriculum includes Concert Band, Chorus, and Theatre Arts. Beginning in grade 4, children may choose between Concert Band and Chorus. Both music classes are year-long electives. Chorus is a study of the voice as an instrument to create music. Included in the Chorus elective is learning proper singing, singing alone and in a group, reading music, and performance techniques. Beginner Band is for students between 4th and 8th grade who are little to no experience with a band instrument. They are introduced to the instruments of the band and will learn through both individual and ensemble lessons. Advanced Band is for students 4th through 8th grade with 1-3 years experience on their instrument or with the Director’s approval. Both groups concentrate on teaching the many aspects of instrumental music and performance. Concerts on and off campus during the year are scheduled seasonally. Theatre Arts is designed to learn theatre games and have the chance to explore a variety of repertoire and roles of acting, design and production, musical theatre. Performances on and off campus provide the opportunity to apply techniques learned in the course in productions both small and large. Two opportunities for performing arts competitions are presented to middle schoolers in alternating years: Massachusetts Middle School Drama Festival and Destination Imagination.

About Harborlight

Harborlight Montessori is an independent, co-educational, day school for children from infant-toddler through grade 8 that is committed to innovative teaching and learning.