Montessori Elementary at MMUMS
The comprehensive Montessori education that MINE, ME, & US Montessori School provides prepares the child for a lifelong love of learning by imparting a collection of interrelated knowledge on the child’s impressionable imagination.
Montessori elementary teachers guide each child toward the initial investigation of the question “Who am I?” We believe that this question is one of the most profound philosophical questions we can present about the nature of self and life and that the child between the ages of 6-9 is characteristic of a great philosopher. We foster this intrinsic sense of wonder through exploring great questions of purpose, matter, and justice.
Questions such as “Where did I come from?” and “What are the stars made of?” provide the foundation for the Montessori Method at this age. The Montessori elementary teacher acknowledges the elementary child’s natural tendency to employ an evaluation of sciences, arts, and social studies.
Maintain a Love of Learning through Meaningful Exploration
At MINE, ME, & US Montessori School, we believe strongly in the teacher’s role as a guide. Rather than being the main instrument in the child’s learning, a Montessori guide directs the child through the prepared environment (classroom,) towards engaging lessons and concrete materials. The Montessori approach in the elementary years, balances the child’s emergent imagination and growing propensity for abstract thinking with grounded, hands-on materials. The elementary classroom continues the child’s passage from concrete to abstract that began in the primary classroom. The path reveals itself so naturally because of the child’s sensorial exploration with the materials in previous years, the guide’s aptitude for storytelling, and the child’s highly fertile imagination.
Support the Child’s Acquisition of Culture
At MINE, ME, & US Montessori School, we do not provide the child with a collection of trivial facts, nor do we disregard basic skills and facts. Our work is to polish and build upon the foundation of literacy, writing, and numbers that was created in the primary years in the meaningful context of a big picture. Montessori Elementary engages the child’s capacity to imagine and philosophize as a motivation towards skill proficiency. Montessori pedagogy employs diverse and creative passages to abstraction and provides a classroom environment wherein children pursue their own interests at their own pace with opportunities for social collaboration. The student is ultimately able to acquire a well-rounded education because of the guide’s careful observation and inclination to arouse curiosity, along with the interdisciplinary nature of Montessori curriculum. The Montessori three-year cycle allows time and flexibility for the child to develop at his own pace and for the guide to truly follow the child on this journey.
Facilitate Healthy Nutrition and Understanding of Food
At MINE, ME & US Montessori School, we believe in the nourishment of the whole child and trust that the organic vegetarian food program is at the heart of this undertaking. The MINE, ME, & US Montessori School food program enables children to explore the beautiful culinary processes of growing food, preparing meals, and the community aspect of breaking bread together. This facet of the program is truly seed-to-table and gives the child a comprehensive experience. Our food program integrates all the other qualities of the program as it supports the major disciplines, cultural studies, and the child’s overall developmental well-being. The children are not only partaking in exemplary culinary experiences together with their learning community, but they are also participating in the harvesting, planning, and preparation of these dynamic meals. This aspect allows for truly authentic experiences in the practical life curriculum area.
Preserve the Child’s Connection with Nature
AT MINE, ME, & US Montessori School, we profoundly believe in the interconnectedness of all things, and our natural world is the best place to grasp this certainty. The daily explorations available to Montessori Elementary students assimilate their classroom experiences through their interaction with natural phenomena. These experiences create solid foundations for further studies in the sciences, mathematics, and language. In a culture where children are facing a nature deficit disorder, we are advocating for the importance of a child’s relationship to the outdoor environment. ME children commune daily with nature through outdoor work opportunities, nature walks, and trips to explore the natural wonders in and around the New River Valley.
Areas of Curriculum
Language Arts and Writing
The language area includes a comprehensive spelling curriculum, word study (including antonyms, synonyms, homonyms, and compounds, and definitions), creative writing, and research skills. Reading of every kind is highly encouraged, as children are introduced to poetry, folktales, non-fiction, and classic literature. Children are also given many opportunities to read out loud – giving a presentation they have written or dramatizing the work of another author. Children are taught the art of handwriting and cursive. At this age, children greatly enjoy reading and writing, because most of the work in this area pertains to their individual interests. There is necessary skill work in developing the child’s literacy, but the Montessori curriculum opens many doors for the children to read and write about what is most exciting to her.
Grammar/Function of Words
Grammar boxes, symbols, and charts fill the Montessori language area. They are housed in brightly colored boxes that seem to invite the child. Each part of speech begins with a lively introduction lesson that speaks to the child’s imagination. The work of grammar comes at the time of the child’s life when he is most excited about language and still has a strong propensity for absorbing it.
The Montessori approach allows the child to build her own sentences as she learns the functions of words, rather than dissecting the work of another.
Work Plans and Record Keeping
Children in an elementary classroom begin to keep a record of their work. The children work with teachers through the use of work plans and journals. The child still has the freedom to choose their own work, as well as choosing to work with another child or in a group. Keeping track of their work helps them make good work choices, and lets the teacher see which presentations have been done and which are still needed.
Geometry is a fascinating area of Montessori. Actual wooden shapes are used to master the terminology of all the plane figures and solids. Matching cards are used to introduce types and positions of lines, types and positions of angles, and special characteristics of shapes. Experimentation with other materials leads children to their own discoveries of spatial relationships, including congruence, symmetry, and equivalency.
The math area begins with the Golden Bead material to teach beginning math concepts (place value, quantity/symbol association, and concrete addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). The materials bring a “hands-on” quality to the classroom, with children learning through trial and error, self-discovery, and teaching from other children.
The materials quickly move the child to an abstraction of math concepts, including problem solving, fractions, borrowing and carrying, graphing, measurement, long division, and algebraic equations. Each material gradually becomes more abstract in nature but presents very concrete patterns of the proceeding abstraction.
History & Geography
In the Lower Elementary years, History and Geography are studied from the big picture perspective. Children are learning about the history of the world and universe. Geography and history include the study of civilizations and countries. Wooden puzzle maps of each continent are studied, with children learning the names, flags, animals, cultures, and geographic features of each country. History begins with the study of time, including clocks, calendars, and timelines. As various fundamental needs of people (like shelter, transportation, food, and clothing) are explored, the children research and chart changes in these needs over time and across cultures.
Chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, and meteorology are also areas of study in the elementary classroom. These lessons are presented as “Key Lessons” in support of the great lessons telling the history of the universe. The children are presented with concrete materials such as constellations, types of rock, parts of an atom, and stellar nucleosynthesis. There is also a shelf available to the children with experiment prompts and all the materials necessary for the children to conduct such experiments in their own time. Non-fiction books fill the classroom library, allowing the children to research a wide variety of subject matter pertaining to sciences. The Timeline of Life and other lessons teach biological concepts such as interdependency, evolution, symbiosis, adaptation, and classification.
Botany and zoology encompass a wide field of biological study. Matching cards are used to learn the characteristics of many plants and animals, and charts aid in the classification of the plant and animal kingdoms. After this first knowledge is gained, children begin to research on their own, using their knowledge of specific plant and animal species.
Practical life, which was a separate area in the 3-6 classroom, is now integrated with the day-to-day care of the classroom and its inhabitants. Tasks may include preparation of snacks and daily meals and watering of plants and care of animals. Elementary children dust the shelves, organize, and straighten the materials, sweep, and vacuum, and keep the classroom neat and clean.