The Elementary program is for students in 1st through 6th grade. The program is divided into Lower Elementary (1st-3rd grade) and Upper Elementary (4th-6th grade). The Elementary program hours are 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with extended care options available before and after school.
The Montessori Elementary Program is centered on children's desire to understand the universe and their place in it. Applying a research style of learning, Elementary students work in small groups on projects that spark the imagination and engage the intellect.
Elementary students learn geography, biology, history, language, mathematics in all its branches, science, music, art, and Spanish. This is the sensitive period for the imagination, and the Montessori curriculum capitalizes on this by employing storytelling as a method for setting context. Rather than teach students abstract skills and ask them to intuit the big picture, children are given the “big picture” first, then dive into the details to learn skills.
Exploration of each area is encouraged through trips outside the classroom to community resources, such as libraries, planetariums, and botanical gardens. This approach to education fosters a feeling of connectedness to the larger society and encourages students' natural desire to make contributions to the world.
Your child will receive a fully individualized education in Elementary. He or she will actively participate in deciding what their focus of learning will be each day, working with the teacher to review the work they’ve already done and their goals for the day.
Learn more about the development of your child and the sensitive periods for this age in this article from the North American Montessori Center's Teacher Training Blog.
What the Transition to Elementary Means for You
Elementary is a big transition for students and parents. It is a new phase of development for your child, and the child you’ve known for six or seven years changes dramatically. They take the first steps toward becoming fully their own people, and they need you less. This can feel like a let down -- the child who demanded lots of hugs before going to class now runs to class without a backward glance.
For you, this means less engagement with the teachers and the classroom community, simply because your child no longer requires it. Students are dropped off and picked up at the entrance to the school, rather than the entrance to the class, further reducing contact with the teacher. You are always welcome to schedule an observation or meetings with your child's teacher if you wish to know more about what's going on in the class.
Read "Attention Parents: Do These 6 Things for a Successful Transition to Montessori Elementary" from Bergamo Montessori Schools for information on how you can make this transition easier for your child.
What's Different about the Elementary Classroom
A Montessori Elementary classroom is spacious and open. It is not organized like a lecture hall. Students work in pairs or small groups, with some working individually, and the furniture varies in size and placement to support this type of format.
A steady hum of activity is present in the Elementary classroom, and the class maintains the same sense of purpose and self-discipline that you observed in the Primary classroom. This is the age when children are driven to work with others, rather than on their own. Conventional classrooms often emphasize quiet and individual work, which can create a chaotic response when the children's natural drive to do the opposite surfaces.
Students are also free to move around the room as needed. They may be working at tables, on the floor, or tucked away in a quiet corner. They take advantage of our beautiful campus to work outside as well, as appropriate to their work.
About the Teachers
All teachers in our Elementary program hold Bachelors or Masters degrees and the AMI Diploma for Elementary (equivalent to a Masters degree).