The Elementary Program
The Elementary program is a mixed-age classroom for children aged 6 to 12 years old.
The aim of the elementary environment is to render the student independent of the adult (Directress). Similar to the Casa, Montessori materials are arranged from the concrete to the abstract, however, as the students gain confidence in concepts, there are fewer and fewer materials due to the student’s own efforts and discovery – moving towards more abstract learning and thus greatly expanding their field of knowledge.
Students are able to work ahead or take extra time to internalize concepts and have a choice in how to complete follow-up assignments to meet individual interests. They work in small groups or individually on projects which spark the imagination and engage the intellect. The Directress also gives “Great Lessons” that appeal to the imagination of the child. The Lessons direct the children towards research-style activities which help to develop critical thinking skills.
The Great Lessons are planned for the whole class and all the children are free to gather around. It is one of the few times the directress will engage a large portion of the class at once in a more traditional educational format. Each of these lessons is a story, sometimes an hour long, the first Great Lesson covering a variety of subjects - the history of the cosmos, which will include geography, math, language, history etc for the children to work on individual smaller lessons at a later time. The history of life on earth, the coming of humans, the story of how humans developed language and how they developed mathematics are some of the Great Lessons.
The purpose is to provide context for some of the individual skills and discoveries the children have been making through the Montessori materials, as well as to plant kernels of curiosity in their minds for future learning.
Because no classroom can contain the answers to all their questions, ‘going out’ is a response to the need to explore beyond the classroom. Outings are arranged by the children so they learn responsibility and independence. Such outings can include shopping to prepare for a birthday celebration in the class, Mother’s Day celebrations or a visit to the local library to research a current project or interest area.
Elementary students further develop language lessons received in the Primary program with an AMI-trained Spanish teacher who works with each child individually.
In their graduation year, Mia Montessori’s elementary students have the opportunity to participate in Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN). Students have travelled to Rome, New York and Chicago and work as a team to represent a country at MMUN. In addition to the planning and preparation of position papers and individual speeches, the students are responsible for all elements of planning the trip – from fundraising, to flight plans, hotel stays, and touring activities while there.