The elementary-aged child is a highly social individual with a strong imagination who is eager to explore his or her world and the human experience within it. Dr. Montessori designed the Elementary program to nurture these characteristics.
The elementary curriculum consists of a series of lessons that open up the different areas of study to the child: the story of the universe (geography), the coming of human beings and their accomplishments (history), the coming of life (biology), and the development of language and numbers. The Montessori Elementary program is based on the developmental needs common to this age group, but it is highly individualized to facilitate growth and nurture the child’s curiosity. It offers an open-ended approach to learning so that children, with the guidance of adults, are allowed to creatively explore topics of interest to them.
Through these lessons, the students discover that geography is the story of the earth and its origins and that biology is the study of life. They investigate history as the story of human beings through time. The study of language helps them understand how humans communicate, not only in spoken and written word, but through art and music as well. Through the study of mathematics and science, they explore how human beings translate their ideas into inventions. Often these explorations take the child beyond the confines of the classroom for further investigation.
The Montessori Method is a research-based curriculum that encourages children to follow up on materials introduced by the guide and to conduct research on subjects that are chosen by the children. Through this research, they explore various facets of the chosen subject, either individually or in small collaborative groups. Because the classrooms are multi-age, peer learning and mentoring opportunities are encouraged, developing community through collaboration.
The Montessori curriculum also includes specialized materials in language, arithmetic, algebra, and geometry that help to round out the topics the children research on their own. These materials are progressive and lead the children through at an individualized pace.
The Montessori Elementary program gives children the opportunity to set their own goals, budget their time, and appraise the results of their own work so that they become self-starters who work from genuine interest and enthusiasm for their work. The noncompetitive environment emphasizes respect for the individual and cooperation with the group.
Evaluation of a student’s progress is partially inherent in the materials and also made through student/guide conferences, written evaluations given to parents at conferences, and standardized testing. The guides at White Bear Montessori also monitor and evaluate children’s progress according to the academic standards defined by the State of Minnesota but within the context of the highly individualized learning environment of a Montessori classroom.