Our elementary program builds on the foundation the child received in a Montessori primary program and expands greatly. We call the curriculum for the elementary child Cosmic Education—it includes the entire universe! Lessons are given to spark the imagination and inspire wonder and interest in each student. Children begin the elementary with concrete materials to introduce new concepts. As children move into a deeper learning and understanding, these concepts are abstracted with the oversight of the elementary guide.
One of the great challenges for an elementary child is learning to balance freedom and responsibility. Learning this balance is a big part of the child’s experience in our elementary classroom. One way we do this is through Going Outs. Going outs are small, child-led excursions. Maria Montessori said that the elementary classroom is a dual-environment: it not only includes learning in the classroom but also authentic learning experiences in the world outside of school. Some going outs include shopping for food to make a class snack, buying supplies for a classroom project, and going out for research in the community. Children are expected to make a list of what they would like to get from the going out, contact a chaperone, and plan the event. Another way we help to develop this balance of freedom and responsibility is a child-planned, end of the year camping trip. The children are responsible for choosing where they will go, planning transportation, and helping to fundraise.
We strive for our elementary program to support not only academic development, but social and emotional development as well. Our goal is to develop culturally literate children who have a sense of respect and duty toward themselves and society, and to nurture their innate curiosity, creativity and intelligence.
Currently, our elementary program serves children in grades 1 through 5 and will be adding grade 6 for the 2014 - 2015 school year. We give priority placement in the elementary classroom to children with three years experience in a Montessori primary curriculum or who are transferring from another Montessori elementary program. In cases where children do not have this background, the head of school and elementary guide will confer with parents to make an individualized decision regarding eligibility and enrollment.