6 - 12 years
Lower Elementary: Grades 1 - 3
Upper Elementary: Grades 3 - 6
From age six through age nine, the lower elementary school years, the child is driven by a natural curiosity and tendency to explore the expansive interconnectedness within and across disciplines such as the arts, math, and social studies. Dr. Montessori used the term "cosmic education" to refer to this stage of education best fitting this period of child development. The Great Stories are at the center of Montessori elementary education. These Stories are stories that explore the beginnings of the universe, the formation of the stars and planets, the progress of plant and animal life, the arrival of humans and language, and the origins of mathematics, geometry, and the sciences. From these stories the child develops sensitivity to the way things live, to the interdependence of life, and to the fundamental needs of human beings. Timelines, charts, and research cards of human needs help the child in independent study and inspire more research in geology, sciences, biology, geography, and history. Montessori elementary children use their imagination and reasoning minds to explore all the parts of the universe. They may be engaged in a variety of learning activities at the same time.
"Let us give the child a vision of the whole universe for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity."
- Maria Montessori
At the center of the Montessori elementary classroom is the well -trained Montessori guide. This professional is an "enlightened generalist" with knowledge deep enough to know details that add to the Great Stories and connect the details into a big picture across the disciplines. The role of the guide is to be the storyteller of our history and our world, as we understand it, to inspire the children and then to guide them in acquiring the skills to pursue their interests and to explore the relationships among the different subject matters. This guide is also trained in areas of child development and because the child spends three years in the same classroom environment, the elementary teacher can be keenly tuned in to the unique personality of each child. This sensitivity permits the guide to encourage each child into areas of natural interest. The guide is in communication with the child and the family to help the child maximize his or her educational opportunities.
Much of the work of the elementary child is collaborative. The child learns in partnership with others through small group lessons and projects. At different times, each child is both a teacher and a learner. Because each child spends three years in the same classroom environment, the children have the freedom to explore subject areas as they become interested in them. The guide, through the use of daily observation notes, lesson planning, and assessments, track each child's use of materials and progress within a subject matter. The guide uses the child's interest to guide him or her to an exploration of all subject areas. The subjects that are covered in the Montessori classroom include mathematics, geometry, language, geography, science, art, and music.
Because the classroom cannot always answer all of the child's questions, the elementary child is involved in "going out" to explore beyond the classroom environment. The going out of the Montessori classroom is based on individual or small group interest in extensions of study. The Creo Montessori Elementary School children will extend the classroom into the community by arranging a visit to a museum, library, factory, nature reserve, or other site that can provide them with information that will enhance their studies. Going out usually involves a small group of children with a parent or staff person. Whole classes may also take field trips to learn more about the environment and community in which they live.
Living in the world for the elementary child also involves working actively to make it a better place. Care of one's environment is built into the Montessori curriculum. In the environment children are responsible for keeping the environment clean, caring for the animals, and providing for the needs of guests. Creo elementary children will take responsibility for recycling programs in their classroom environments, will help maintain the grounds and the garden, as well as help the school be more energy efficient. Creo offers children opportunities to ponder questions of morality, justice and empathy through storytelling, group activities, and community service. Guides, students and parents work as a team to discuss strategies and develop new and interesting projects to better the world.
The Montessori curriculum is developed and reviewed by an international committee and not set according to US academic standards. As a consequence, there are elements in the Montessori curriculum, such as finding the cube root of a 9-digit number, that are not part of our state or national standards; also there are elements of our state standards, such as the study of simple machines, that are not covered by the basic Montessori curriculum. However, there are specific provisions made in the training of Montessori guides to ensure that the state and national standards are met in the Montessori classroom. Creo elementary staff will continually evaluate state standards and Montessori curriculum to ensure that children who graduate from a level (at Kindergarten, third and sixth grades) have met the state and national required standards.
"The secret of good teaching to regard the child's intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination."
- Maria Montessori
One of the guiding principles of Montessori education is the development of the whole person, with particular emphasis on the development of reason and the will, along with a lifelong love of learning. For this reason, children in a Montessori environment are expected to work at their own pace and have a major role in setting their own work schedule rather than just doing specific assignments given by the guide. This vast amount of freedom given to the children is tempered by three very important limits: the Montessori curriculum, the daily work journal used by each child to track his/her progress, and frequent individual meetings between the child and the teacher. The trained Montessori guide is expected to help each child progress through the Montessori curriculum. As part of each child's assessment (Montessori records, the child's work journal, and Montessori teacher's observation notes) the Montessori guide reviews with the child where the child is at in terms of development within the Montessori curriculum, state and national standards and sets goals with the child for further development. There is also a consideration given to the developmental level of the child; that is, more of the responsibility for covering the curriculum falls on the guide's shoulders in the early grades with the child taking more direct responsibility as she/he matures.
Lower Elementary Going Out, Field Trips Extension Excursion Programs
Montessori Elementary students plan trips outside of the school in order to further their research in an area of interest. These trips will involve two or three students who have been working together on a specific topic. The students submit a request to the teacher with a list of questions they wish to research and details regarding the opening hours and admission cost of the place they wish to visit. When approved, they make all other arrangements. Typically, students will visit a specialized museum or travel to interview an expert in a particular field. Students share their findings with the rest of the class, thus inspiring others to "go out."
Exploring and utilizing the world outside the classroom are integral components of the Creo School Elementary Montessori experience. These teacher lead experiences and will involve the entire class and are chosen based the area programs offered and the relevance to the current experience in the class. Children participate in an A minimum of two field trips each year.
Below is a short list of annual possibilities:
Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum
Feed My Starving Children
Arizona Science Center
Arizona Art Museum
Musical Instrument Museum
Arizona Challenger Center
Classroom Extension Excursions
The elementary class embarks upon a multi-day camping trip. These outdoor educational programs support geological and oceanography studies. Students are able to see the work of wind, water, explore local habitats and ecology while applying many Montessori independence skills in action, from preparing food over a campfires to team building skills.