At about the age of six, children are ready to grow beyond the experience and knowledge acquired in the Montessori Primary Program. Three aspects of development have a significant impact on their educational needs. Children aged six to twelve:
- Begin to question why and how, rather than simply accept statements as fact.
- Often are very concerned with moral behavior and will question the right, wrong and justice of rules and guidelines.
- Enjoy creating organized social activities with friends, complete with rules and hierarchies.
The “Why and “How”
The Elementary Program at MDS has been created around these developmental aspects. Dr. Maria Montessori said that this is the period when childrens’ minds are “like fertile fields waiting to be sown with the seeds of knowledge”. The role of the teacher is to assess and provide for the interests and needs of the child through individual and group instruction. The teacher works with each child to help develop his or her interests.
In the MDS Elementary Program, children focus on in-depth studies of core subject areas. In language, students do word study, spelling, grammar, sentence analysis, penmanship, reading and writing. In math, students study addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and geometry. The Elementary Program also offers cultural studies in history, geography, science, music, and art. Children are free to explore these studies to the extent that they choose. As the child has transitioned to the period of the “reasoning mind” and has more interest in the world and how he or she can connect with it, the Montessori classroom changes to accommodate these new interests. MDS Elementary children enjoy field trips relevant to specific areas of classroom study and continue their study of Spanish as a second language. They plant and care for gardens and share the care for our llamas. Elementary students cook various meals through out the school year and offer “Discovery Cafe” monthly throughout the year. This is an opportunity for them to experience running a small business first hand.
Creating an Ethical Framework
The principles of Montessori education empower the children to chart their own course. This is their school, their classroom. With the guidance of teachers, students determine rules and guidelines for behavior in the classroom and on the playground. They have the responsibility for the care of the classroom and pets and making the environment safe and pleasant for all who share it. This responsibility helps the children understand and discriminate right from wrong. Children first learn respect for themselves, their environment and each other. Children are free to learn and explore, as well as develop a social framework.
As the students are busy exploring the world and developing a moral conscience, they are also practicing their social development in groups by creating small societies. In the MDS Elementary Program, 1st through 6th graders are present together in one classroom. This allows the children to work in pairs or groups on large projects or to have older children mentor younger children. As part of our commitment to peace in education, the children also learn how to settle conflicts in a non-confrontational manner. They also enjoy cooperative games as part of the physical education program.Children of this age have an enthusiasm for learning that is best fostered in a peaceful, creative and open environment. The Elementary Program at MDS has been created with the child’s developmental aspects in mind.