Learning How to Think (6 – 12 years)
The Elementary program offers your child an unparalleled opportunity for growth in this new period of life. Your imaginative, social and creative child needs an environment with appropriate freedom and limitations, with an expansive curriculum to support her curiosity and prepare her for the challenges of the future.
Learning without Limits
Your child will study both broadly and deeply, covering many subjects not attempted in conventional schools. Because there is not a rigid schedule or prescribed curriculum that the whole class must follow, your child can focus intensely on her self-chosen work, with minimal interruption. At the same time, she will collaborate with the teacher to ensure that her work is challenging and purposeful – and that basic standards are met. In that way, the teacher is in charge of the minimum scope of work – your child is in charge of the maximum.
The Teacher is an “Enlightened Generalist”
To quote Bruce Lee: “A teacher is never a giver of ‘truth;’ he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that the student must discover for himself.” We couldn’t agree more. Our AMI credentialed Montessori teachers don’t have a specific area of expertise and we don’t have “specialist” teachers for subjects like art, P.E., or music. Instead, our teachers have a broad knowledge of all subject areas – more than enough to help your child discover interests in any area imaginable and challenge her to deepen the field of study through research. Instead of giving the right answers, the teacher will ask your child the right questions to inspire her to find the answers for herself
The Format Mirrors Your Child’s Developmental Needs
Your elementary age child has a strong drive for social connection. She is starting to develop deeper friendships and a connection to the community around her. Why then, would we want her to learn in rows of desks, confined to a chair, while the teacher lectures the class as a group? Instead, we embrace your child’s natural need for social exploration by giving lessons in small groups and encouraging children to work with a variety of others on follow up projects and research into subjects of intense interest. In a Montessori elementary program, children help children before adults help children, resulting in teamwork, independence and a true learning community.
Engagement is Essential
Real learning occurs when children are engaged – not when the teacher makes a blanket assignment. Curiosity is championed in our Elementary, and your child is encouraged to explore concepts to a level of detail only limited by his imagination.
Learning Occurs Beyond the Classroom
We want the children to be comfortable navigating the world, not just our classroom. So, we have a few excellent books, but not everything there is to read about a topic. As a result, the children must ‘go out’ beyond the limits of the classroom to find the information or resource that they need. A ‘Going Out’ is a planned undertaking by a small group of children. They find a resource in the community, schedule the outing, arrange for their own transportation and supervision (by staff or parent volunteers), prepare themselves for the experience and conduct themselves with dignity while out in public. Each Going Out is an entire course of study on independence, responsibility and good citizenship — to say nothing of the intellectual rewards that children get from such experience.
Developing Flexibility, Resilience and Grit
We believe children learn to be adaptable by supporting them to solve their own problems, rather than solving problems for them. With the help of a supportive adult, your child can, most often, find the solution that is best for him.
Learning in Context for Deeper Understanding
Unlike in a conventional program with a separate time of the day for each subject, your child will gain a much deeper understanding of concepts by learning in context. The starting point for all courses of study is the “Great Lessons;” these impressionistic and scientific stories give your child the “big picture” of astronomy, earth science, geography, physics, biology, history, anthropology, cultural and social studies, language, math, music and art. Meaningful learning happens when children understand the “why” as much as the “what” – and are inspired to learn even more on their own.
Achieving the State of “Flow”
Think about how you do your best work. Is it when you are interrupted by others or when you work to an external time table? Probably not. Why, then, is it any different for your child? Our class day consists of long, open ended work periods that respect your child’s curiosity and concentration. She may choose to form or join a group to work with concepts introduced in a lesson. And, because she is free to move around the classroom, it’s not uncommon for ideas to spread; children are stimulated not just by the lessons they receive, but by each other.
Learning as its Own Reward
We have high expectations for your child, and believe that rewards and punishments appeal to the lowest levels of her intellect. Given a sticker, she will do her best for a few minutes. Given experiences that help her to believe in herself and her abilities, she will do her very best for a lifetime.
Our Alumni Excel in School – and in Life
Years of watching our students matriculate to high school, college and beyond confirms that an authentic Montessori elementary is an excellent education for life. They excel in school and careers of choice but, more importantly, emerge as confident, well adjusted, happy adults.