Lower Elementary: 1st to 3rd grade
The passage from Primary to Elementary is an exciting time. During the ages from 6 to 9 many physical changes take place, allowing the child to concentrate on intellectual tasks for longer periods of time. Psychologically, a reasoning mind develops. The elementary child is no longer content with the “what” or “why” of things; this child seeks to know the “how, when, and who” of things--the more obscure, extraordinary, and bizarre, the better. The power of imagination facilitates a unique ability to understand that which the child can not experience concretely. Additionally, we see the child develop an understanding of morality, fairness, and right and wrong. Combined, these characteristics provide for a strong academic period and an eagerness within the child for the acquisition of knowledge and culture.
In her book, To Educate the Human Potential, Dr. Montessori advises, “Knowledge can be best given when there is eagerness to learn, so this is the period when the seed of everything can be sown, the child’s mind being like a fertile field, ready to receive what will germinate...” Dr. Montessori designed an Elementary Curriculum to do just that – sow the seeds of everything. The curriculum is exciting, challenging, and encompasses all academic subjects in depth. Subjects deemed appropriate for middle or high school age children in a traditional setting are presented early in our Elementary classrooms and received by eager, enthusiastic learners.
Language, for example, is not limited to reading, spelling and penmanship; the parts of speech, sentence structure, and sentence diagramming are also taught. Given that the universal laws of mathematical operations apply to all place values, equations are not limited to single digits. Operations involving numbers in the thousands and higher are presented. In this way, math becomes much more appealing and challenging. While it is always exciting to hear our middle school students are engaged in advanced algebra and geometry, it is never really surprising. Work with binomials, trinomials, squaring, cubing, and other algebraic concepts are presented in the Elementary classes. Additionally, an extensive foundation in geometry is provided, which includes studying lines, measuring angles, analyzing triangles, and exploring circles. It is, however, the extensive cultural curriculum that makes the Montessori Elementary classroom so very unique.
Dr. Montessori called it “Cosmic Education.” It is the heart of, and underlies the entire Elementary curriculum, extending to the subjects of Biology, Geography, History, Science, and Research. This curriculum sows seeds of the “whole” and then moves to the “parts.” The whole is always more inspiring and appealing to the young, imaginative child. And, once you understand the whole, the parts fall easily into place. Rather than opening the window just a tiny bit for the child to peek through to see his or her neighborhood, we open it wide to allow the child to get a clear view of the Universe as a living organism. Within this living organism all parts contribute to the whole. The history of the world can never be separated from the Universe, geography, or biology, for it was Earth’s formation, landscape, climate, and resources that created culture, economics, language, mathematics, and science.
The values of interdependency are brought to the forefront. We encourage the child to see people, animals, and plants in a relationship with each other. All cultures--all life forms - though diverse, are really much more similar than different. Everything is related, evolving, alive. Diversity is to be understood, embraced, and celebrated. Further, we challenge each child to consider his or her talents within the Universe. These young children begin to see themselves as caretakers and peacekeepers, possessing a unique understanding of their responsibility both as individuals and as a species within the spiral of life. They are now prepared to confidently experience the more abstract environment of the Upper Elementary classroom.