The Montessori School’s Lower Elementary Program includes children between the ages of 6-9 (first through third grade) and its Upper Elementary Program includes children between the ages of 9-12 (fourth through sixth grades). The Montessori Elementary Program responds to the child’s insatiable desire for knowledge, which moves to a heightened level of sophistication at this next stage of development.
As the child changes, so must the method of education. Lessons for the child from six to twelve years of age are no longer exclusively individual. Now the group lesson predominates. In addition, the categories of work expand. The four divisions of the Primary environment become seven at the Elementary level. These divisions are Geography, History, Mathematics, Geometry, Language, Botany and Zoology. Art and music are woven into all areas of investigation and all subjects are tied together with Great Lessons.
The story of the beginning of the universe and of its continual evolution is an example of a Great Lesson to the Elementary child. This lesson, presented in story form, provides a basis for the geography, history, botany, and zoology work that follows. Great Lessons do more than interconnect fact. They capture the child’s imagination, spark the child’s curiosity, and generate concentrated work. The older child has entered a period of heightened receptivity to intellectual learning. For this reason, the Elementary curriculum stresses a rigorous academic program.
The work of the Elementary child is social as well as academic. Driven by a desire to become part of society, the older child needs an environment that allows for social development. Lessons that encourage the children to work together in a non-competitive atmosphere allow them to practice creating and functioning in a harmonious world and to participate actively, enthusiastically, and responsibly in the world around them.
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