The Upper Elementary Program
The goal of Montessori education is to cultivate the child’s own desire to learn. Maria Montessori believed that the “The hand is the chief teacher of the child,” and so all learning is driven by hands-on activity.
In the upper elementary classroom, which is composed of ages nine to twelve, more ideas and concepts are explored in depth according to each child’s interest and learning level. The educational process continues to be flexible and adaptable depending on the child’s needs, wants, and teacher observed learning level. In this classroom, learning moves further away from concrete forms and students can take a more abstract form of learning.
Social skills take on further development at this age. Individual morals, values, and courtesy lessons are further developed within themselves and the others in the classroom. Children’s sense of self can be influenced by abstract experiences through literature, arts, and problem-solving skills. The school environment is set up to support the continuous learning by the child in all areas, creating an education for the whole child. Differentiated learning, creates an environment where children are free to learn at their own pace, where mastery of subject material and lessons is the standard for achievement, instead of traditional letter grades. All students in this age group are assessed on a quarterly basis to make sure each child is achieving state standard levels. In most cases, our students are assessed above state standard levels in math, science, and critical thinking.
Children who are new to Montessori will quickly feel at home with welcoming teachers and a learning style that caters to the child’s developmental needs.
Upper Elementary Curriculum and The Five Great Lessons
Curriculum Areas and Content
Curriculum Areas in the elementary program are broad and can encompass many different aspects. Below are the main domains of the curriculum. These domains are broken down further into sub domains, extending the depth of the curriculum. The main domains of curriculum include:
1. Practical Life: This area includes self-care, appropriate social interactions, lessons that teach responsibility and time management, and allowing children to make independent work choices.
2. Math: The ideas of numbers concepts, place values, numerals, and related quantities are reinforced and expanded upon in the Elementary program.
3. Language: Students master materials with lessons in grammar, spelling, and mechanics. They will also satisfy their creativity with creative writing and composing poetry. Reading is emphasized with age appropriate book assignments, journal writing, and poetry. Students are encouraged to read, analyze, think critically, and compare and contrast literature to support personal opinion and perspective.
4. Cultural Studies: These studies include zoology, botany, geography, geology, physical and life sciences, and anthropology. The lessons give children the opportunity to explore the interconnectedness of all living things. In-depth studies of history, physical geography, civics, economics, peace and justice, the arts, world languages, and physical education are introduced.
5. Science and Social Studies: In-depth studies of geology, geography, physical and life sciences, anthropology, and history are built around “Great Lessons”, which are a series of dramatic stories the explore the origins of the universe, our planet, and the continuous development of humans. In-depth physics, chemistry, studies of civilizations, and history are given and explored. Lessons on responsible citizenship and how to make the world a better, more peaceful place is discussed.
The Five Great Lessons
As first conceived by Maria Montessori, Italy’s first female physician, when children are allowed to learn at their own pace with their own interests, they will take control of their own education.
The five great lessons give children a starting point on what material they can choose from to study over the next several weeks. The lessons are given in order and are used to describe and explain the universe and our world.
The five great lessons are as follows:
1. Coming of the Universe and Earth: Presented in an overview fashion, teachers develop experiments that help children understand one big lesson ,by breaking it down into many smaller lessons given over time.
2. Coming of Life: In this lesson, students learn about living things and their jobs. Visual timelines of life will break down eras, extinctions, and other major life events. In this unit children typically learn about dinosaurs, animals, plants, and microorganisms. These topics are addressed in small groups and experiments, hands on learning, and research activities are done to further knowledge on each subject.
3. Humans Come to Earth: In this lesson, students focus on the development of humans through history. They explore ancient civilizations, the first humans, and the many human inventions. Students will learn about everything from farming to food preparation, art to spirituality, transportation to technology, and medicine. Most importantly, children learn to understand their existence, their place in the world, personal responsibility, and how to better society.
4. Communication and Writing: In this lesson, teachers detail the study of folklore, mythology, language, alphabets, grammar, sentence structure, and world study. Everything from ancient hieroglyphics, Greek and Latin Letters, to cave paintings and picture communication is studied and discussed.
5. Numbers: In this lesson, students learn about mathematics. The story of numbers helps students delve deeper into learning about calendars, systems and units of measurement, applications of numbers in everyday life, and economic geography.
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