The Course of Study and Work

for the Montessori Elementary

“Education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”

– Maria Montessori

For these reasons Dr. Montessori encouraged educators to break the conventional mold and support the child’s desire to learn through activity. She called for places that were scientifically planned and methodically created for children. Thus, the Winston-Salem Montessori School is a series of “prepared environments”, in which children have materials that act as keys for exploration. These “Prepared Environments” are designed to unlock possibilities rather than define purposes, invite constructive activity without demanding conformity. The design is based on the principles of order, beauty and simplicity. The environment would be utilitarian enough to meet both the needs of the community and the needs of each individual. In such an environment the work of the child is fulfilled, for unlike adults who work to change their environments, children use the environment to change themselves.

The Montessori Elementary program allows the child to continue the great strides in learning made in Children’s House. This is a time for perfecting and extending the skills already begun. Reading, math, geometry, and science all bring the student to new understanding expressed through writing. History, geography, and biology are presented in ways that give meaning and appreciation to the great order of the universe. Spanish, music and art, and physical education are an integral part of the week. Children begin to explore humankind and themselves in the world and begin to develop respect for nature.

The Montessori elementary curriculum is interdisciplinary, allowing English, science, social studies, the arts, world language, writing, and math to converge in studies guided by the child’s own interests. Emphasis is placed on the connections between different areas of study, not on the mere presentation of isolated facts. Spanish, music and art, and physical education are an integral part of the week. The overall curriculum is an integrated and academically challenging program that meets the child’s changing developmental needs from year to year.

The Montessori Elementary course of study for the Elementary years fully integrates separate disciplines of the curriculum in an integrated thematic approach. This approach uses five Great Lessons as a framework for the child to gain a rich understanding of the physical universe, the world of nature, and the human experience. They introduce for study a scientific approach to investigating the interrelatedness of all things, and a complete understanding of the ecology of the natural world as humans know it. These lessons appeal to this age child by drawing on a wealth of previous sensorial experience and interrelating it an order that provokes the imagination. The previous knowledge of the child is brought together in a framework that provides a vision of the whole with all its component parts.

The Montessori Elementary

Divided Into Lower & Upper Levels

Lower Elementary

Grades 1-3

In this mixed-age classroom an interdisciplinary curriculum stresses connections between different study areas. The teacher uses “Great Lessons,” which lay out a general organization for knowledge, then invites the children to investigate details and relate them back to the whole. Impressionistic charts and evocative materials give a sense of the size and age of the observable universe, the steady progression of life on Earth, the variety of terrain and climates on our planet, and the saga of human evolution, invention, and civilization.

The classroom environment meets both the social and academic needs of the child. Social skills are taught and practiced and group learning encourages individual contributions, listening, and the ability to compromise.

Learn more

Upper Elementary

Grades 4-6

Children at this age become abstract thinkers and the curriculum responds to this developmental characteristic. Students are presented a challenging interdisciplinary curriculum with a key emphasis on project work that moves from the concrete to the abstract. Class trips include overnight experiences. Sixth-grade students plan and implement a four-day trip to New York City incorporating their study of Fundamental Human Needs.

Upper Elementary students extend their studies and go out into the community to use what they have learned. This may come in the form of putting together a science fair project, interviewing a university professor, or planning a group trip to a local historical site. Community service rounds out their Upper Elementary Experience.

Learn more

In-Depth Articles

Elementary

A Montessori Education For Citizenship

There is more to preparing for citizenship than learning civics. 2020 is an election year in the United States and an appropriate time to consider

Elementary

The Passage to the Elementary

In chapter 2 titled “Metamorphoses” of her book Childhood to Adolescence, Dr. Montessori explores the elementary child’s “turning towards intellectual and moral” development: “The passage to