Elementary (1st - 6th)
ELEMENTARY (Lower & Upper El includes 1st - 6th grades) Overview
LOWER ELEMENTARY (1st - 3rd grades)
Developmental Spotlight: personal responsibility, independence and autonomy, leadership, and empathy and compassion
Second Plane: Childhood - Mental Independence
Lower Elementary Montessori classrooms build upon those skills learned in Children’s House. Students work with their teachers to create their own learning plans, which emphasizes their development of independence, self-advocacy, and skills to productively work with others. Lower Elementary materials isolate single concepts, and students are encouraged to expand and connect ideas in deeper and more abstract ways.
A typical day in a Lower Elementary classroom starts with a morning work period, where students might research a biome or continent; explore math concepts with beads, wooden tiles, or metal shapes; or practice grammar, synonyms, or spelling with hands-on materials. A student may have a lesson or two in a small group, and then work independently or with a peer. Lunch and recess come next, followed by an afternoon work period that might include a read-aloud, P.E., art, music, or other special activity in addition to progress on unfinished works. At the end of the day, students clean and restore their work environment to be ready for the morning.
Day trips to a farm or ballet, or in-house experiences exploring culture or science, give students a chance to experience more of their communities and the world beyond. In addition, third graders have their first school overnight trip near the end of the school year. Third grade students from both campuses spend three days together hiking, studying flora and fauna, and playing team-building games that foster cooperation and communication which will help them transition into the Upper Elementary.
UPPER ELEMENTARY (4th - 6th grades)
Developmental Spotlight: Higher academic achievement, leadership, time management, self-regulation
Second Plane: Childhood - Mental Independence, continued
Upper Elementary builds on skills gained in Lower Elementary. Materials seen in the Lower Elementary sit alongside new and more sophisticated ones as students move towards more abstract thinking and complex concepts. Opportunities for independence, self-advocacy, planning, and critical thinking are built into day-to-day activities as the students strengthen self-confidence and skills.
“Going-Outs” become a key element in the Upper Elementary experience, where a student or group of students plan a mini field trip for themselves. From picking the location and the chaperone, to finalizing all necessary elements to a field trip such as transportation, expense, and time, students take pride in and ownership of their own learning experiences.
A typical day in the Upper Elementary looks quite similar to one in the Lower Elementary, with work periods in the morning and afternoon, broken up by lunch and recess. Specials such as Music, Art, and P.E. also take place in the afternoon. A significant addition to Upper Elementary curriculum is the Presentation of Learning, or POL, where students spend several weeks researching a topic and creating a report, a visual aid, and a presentation. The POL process gives students experience in research and public speaking, and prepares the students for their biggest project in sixth grade, Empowerment. Empowerment is a yearlong project that requires sixth graders to research, participate in an experience, and exhibit math and literacy skills in a presentation to the entire Upper Elementary, teachers, and invited guests.
The Upper Elementary also offers two overnight trips a year. The first, at the beginning of the year, is comparable to an outdoor lab program. For their second trip, students help decide and plan the logistical aspects including the location, food, expenses, and activities. These collaborative experiences help foster independence, community, and a sense of belonging.