Lower Elementary - Grades 1 - 3

The elementary Montessori curriculum builds upon the student's early childhood experience. The Montessori materials continue to play an important role as the child transitions from the concrete to the abstract. Lessons involve exploration and hands-on experiences. As the child in the elementary classroom learns by doing, the classroom is rich in materials, resources, movement and conversation.

The curriculum is individualized. The needs, ability, interests and skills of each child are taken into consideration when lessons are planned and knowledge assessed. The Montessori student will receive extra help or direction in areas where she needs it and can move rapidly through other areas where she excels. The elementary program teaches the student how to think clearly, how to research and how to express herself in writing and in speech. The program fosters independent work as well as group effort.

Multi Age Groupings - Elementary Montessori classrooms are comprised of multi age groupings. This allows younger students to be mentored by older children, who in turn benefit from serving as tutors and role models, which helps them in their own mastery. Each child learns at her own pace and will be ready for any given lesson in her own time, not on the teacher's schedule of lessons. In a mixed-age class, children can always find peers who are working at their current level. Children normally stay in the Lower Elementary class for three years and, with two-thirds of the class typically returning each year, the classroom culture tends to remain quite stable. Working in one class for three years allows students to develop a strong sense of community with their classmates and teachers. The age range also allows gifted children the stimulation of intellectual peers, without requiring that they skip a grade or feel emotionally out of place.

Materials - The wealth of materials in each area allows the children to follow their own interests. Materials are arranged so as to allow sequential progress in skills. Usually there is only one of each material to encourage turn taking and patience. Materials and their activities vary from individual work to partner work and group activities. Many of the materials employ an internal control of error so as to encourage self-monitoring and foster independence in the elementary student.

Reason & Imagination - The inquisitive nature of the elementary student provides the fuel for the research and exploration focus of elementary Montessori. The elementary student wants to know the "why?" and "how?", and is able to use both reason and imagination to explore and understand increasingly abstract concepts.

Exploring Society - While the early childhood student was primarily focused on the construction of the individual, the elementary student begins to explore his place in society. Opportunities continuously present themselves in the Montessori classroom for the student to observe or participate, moments to lead or follow.

A Need for Togetherness - This is the age of clubs and groups. The elementary child explores friendship and cooperation; he learns how to be a leader, a partner and a follower. While collaboration is encouraged, individual contribution and strength is also valued.

Exploring Right and Wrong - The elementary student is actively developing his moral conscience. "That's not fair!" is heard over and over again in the elementary classroom. Every child may know the rules but keeping them is another matter. Problem solving techniques are modeled and fostered in the Montessori environment. Community brainstorming for solutions and rules helps for the elementary Montessori classroom's code of conduct.

Freedom and Discipline - Independence and inner discipline continue to develop in the elementary years. The elementary child is capable of increasingly complex and numerous responsibilities and needs opportunities to exercise judgment and to demonstrate self control. Everything from classroom management to the student's work stems from the child's freedom to choose and think. Mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities.

Homework in Montessori - Home assignments in an elementary Montessori class rarely involve busy work assignments. Rather, they serve as an extension and an enrichment of the curriculum. They challenge the students to think and explore.

Tests and Grades in Montessori - Montessori elementary promotes individually paced academic progress. We do not assign grades or rank students within each class or age group according to their achievement. Teachers assess and monitor performance through detailed recordkeeping, daily observation of each child's work and student meetings to assess progress, as well as formal presentations and assignments.