The Elementary Community
The Montessori curriculum for the elementary ages is called “Cosmic Education.” This cosmic perspective emphasizes the interconnectedness of all of the curriculum areas so that students may find relationships and order in the world. It provides them with a foundation to develop both socially and academically. The elementary student is developmentally attuned to using his or her imagination as a powerful learning tool. From this, they can realize their own place in the Universe, their individual responsibility, and their potential to enhance both the natural and cultural environments in which they live.
Their studies emphasize the tremendous diversity of the world, which ultimately leads to an attitude of tolerance and respect. Love of Learning believes in following a child’s interests and needs while balancing this with the mastery of basic skills and core knowledge.
This curriculum strongly emphasizes math and language, and then uses them to study other subjects including anthropology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, economics, geography, geology, government, history, philosophy, physics, political science, and sociology. These are all presented to each level, each year, simultaneously. This overlap creates what is, in Montessori, called a “spiral curriculum.” Art, music, and Spanish are part of the integrated Montessori prepared environment as well as being subjects that are taught in their own right. Technology is used in each classroom to support all the other curricular areas. Check out this video from the American Montessori Society that discusses the Elementary Years.
Language to a Montessori child is very tactile, making the usually abstract concepts come to life. By learning about the parts of speech and their use in the English language, a child can relate this to his or her writing. When all of the skills learned in Grammar, Word Study, Literature, Handwriting, and Writing Skills all come together, the child is able to explore a world of fantasy and reality through writing and research. All of these skills then come together throughout the rest of the curriculum where they are repeatedly practiced.
Mathematics can be a tough subject when forced into memory. A child that practices with concrete materials and is always repeating the process, internalizes the facts and comprehends them on a deeper level. By using colored bead bars and the process of repetition, the child learns to think mathematically and moves from the concrete to the abstract. This then helps the child visualize even the most complex algebraic and geometric equations.
The Science curriculum in the Elementary program allows a child to become engrossed in the why’s and how’s of the world. By focusing on all the different curricular areas of science, like botany, zoology, and chemistry, a child will explore each facet of science in detail while he or she is still fascinated by it. Through the use of concrete materials and experiments done in the classroom, the child begins to figure out how the world works.
Cosmology and History are interconnected at the Elementary Montessori level. Dr. Montessori recognized the elementary child’s intense desire to understand his role in humankind. Therefore, she designed Five Great Lessons as a vehicle to present the history of Earth, from its origins to the present. Beginning with the story of the universe, each successive lesson, presented in dramatic fashion by the teacher, guides the child from the “big picture” to the details. The child is introduced to the coming of life to the planet, the arrival of humans, and the development of language and numbers. Each lesson, providing the scientific and social components of humanity, inspires imaginative curiosity within the child. As the child enters the Upper Elementary level, he learns about the great journeys and accomplishments of humans from the ancient civilizations to the great explorers to modern day history.
As the child learns the history of Earth, he discovers Earth’s atmosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere, also known as air, land, and water. Earth Science is the study of geology and the science behind the forces of nature. The child explores the layers of the earth and sun, the relationships between the earth, sun, and moon, the reason for seasons, the climate zones, and various natural disasters.
Concurrently, he learns the physical and political geography of our planet. Using the classroom materials, as well as doing independent research, the child develops a solid knowledge and understanding of geographical features and the division of land into countries, provinces, and states. He will apply this knowledge to his studies in history and biology.