About the Elementary Curriculum
The Montessori Elementary Program offers individualized instruction which means that the child may work and be helped on an individual basis. Individualized learning establishes more intimate contact between the student, the teacher and the work. The teacher can become involved with the child in a way other than the “talk and chalk” stance before an entire class.
Montessori individualized instruction deals in the concrete. The program permits a variety of approaches, using at every turn dynamic and colorful manipulative which materialize abstract principles. These beautiful concrete materials are used throughout the entire curriculum, including math, reading, grammar, writing, spelling, geography, history, natural and general science.
Students design a one-week contract with the teacher to guide their required work, to balance their general work, and to teach them to become responsible for their own time management and education. The work of the 6-12 classes includes subjects usually not introduced until high school.
General Educational Objectives
1. Physical Goals:
Developing a body whose movements are mastered and controlled
Developing the fine coordination necessary for writing and manipulation of materials
Learning sports which can be enjoyed into adulthood
2. Emotional Skills
An awareness of one’s own feelings
Sensitivity to and consideration for the feelings of others
An awareness of one’s effect on others
3. Emotional Goal
Developing a good self image
4. Intellectual Skills
The mastery of the necessary tools or skills (such as reading, writing, etc.) in
order to be able to pursue knowledge
An understanding of how to find information and use various media
To develop a strong work ethic and study skills
5. Intellectual Goal
To become a learner who becomes independent of the adult
6. Content Goals
An understanding of the evolution of life and a feeling of responsibility toward further evolution.
An understanding that all people have the same basic needs and an appreciation for the variety of ways in which those needs are met.
An awareness of the interdependence of humankind and nature, with a responsible feeling toward an ecological whole.
An awareness of the interdependence of people and nations, with a desire for cooperation and peace.
In the language area of the elementary curriculum the child will begin using concrete materials for deciphering the parts of speech, sentence analysis and word study. They will later escalate to a more abstract synthesis of these ideas and will be involved in more complex sentence structure, creating coherent paragraphs with accurate punctuation, poetry, parts of a story through novel study and more creative writing in their own independent compositions.
Primary full day and Lower Elementary students will have the opportunity to choose either Dutch or French as a second language study. Upper Elementary students may also choose Dutch or French.
From Lower to Upper Elementary, the Montessori child moves from the concrete materials to an abstract consolidation of the four operations with whole numbers, fractions and decimal numbers, as well as a number of more advanced mathematical concepts including squaring, cubing integers, basic algebra and other topics. These are necessary for further individual development in mathematics.
Geometry in Montessori follows the historical development of the subject. Geometry began as a concrete experience with abstractions following at a later time. Each child follows the same sequence. Geometry is experienced sensorially through manipulation of both plane and solid geometric figures. These materials induce a creative activity that involves two and three-dimensional construction of various forms, artistic drawings and ornamentation. Geometric nomenclature is supplied so that the child will have as much information as possible at his or her command when entering the stage of exploring why, how and when things happen. If the six-year-old child has had no previous Montessori exposure, this sensorial experience in geometry is made available immediately upon entrance into the Elementary Classroom. The foundation of the study of geometry is familiarity through sensorial experience.
Social Studies and Science
Dr. Montessori felt that social studies and science should be integrated into the classroom as they are in life. Therefore, there are no clear distinctions or lines of demarcation among any of the various areas that are included in this section when they are studied in the classroom.
Montessori biology is structured in such a way as to give the child a means of classification so that he or she can structure and relate the facts of the body. The study should reveal to the child that classification approximates evolution. The ultimate goal is an ecological view of life and a feeling of responsibility for the environment. The child will see that each individual life on earth is seemingly selfish (fighting for its own survival) but in reality each serves the good of the whole. Montessori calls this the Cosmic Plan.
Montessori history follows the development of the solar system, life on earth, the development of humankind, early civilizations and recorded history. The child sees that the long labor of humankind was needed to accomplish all that is enjoyed here today.
The study of geography is designed to show how the physical configurations are the basis for the study of economic geography that shows the interdependence of all people.
The first science experiments are designed to give the child basic knowledge which will make possible the understanding of the development of the solar system, the earth and it’s configurations, life on earth and the needs of plants and animals.
Human Relations and Culture Studies
The Montessori Human Relations curriculum serves as an organizing center for the “cultural subjects”, especially geography and history. It is introduced as early as possible in the elementary program.
The Fundamental Needs of Humankind chart is placed in the classroom for the purpose of evoking discussion. The chart illustrates the following:
Material or Concrete Needs
Food / Nourishment
Spiritual or Abstract Needs
The discussion helps the child understand that the needs of people in all places on earth and in all times in history are the same. This understanding helps to establish the idea of the interrelationship of all people. When the child can see that the needs of all people are the same, then he or she can respect and appreciate the variety of ways in which these needs are met.
In the study of history, the above list of needs is used as a guide for the child’s research into how people at various times in history met those needs. The same is true in the study of geography, i.e., the influence of physical geography on meeting those needs, the influence of climate, seasons, natural resources, etc.
The study of cultures around the world is a very important part of the curriculum and is integrated into all areas of study from history and geography to cooking and arts and crafts.
The St. Maarten Montessori School shares the sports facilities of Caribbean International Academy and the children use the pool and sports court.
Biological studies relating to physical education include human anatomy, physiology and nutrition. Practical life areas such as carpentry, sewing, weaving and movement to music also relate. An interest in the development of skills that could be used in later life is the emphasis, along with the challenge of competing with oneself rather than competing with others.
Music in the Elementary program consists of related elements including singing, music theory, ear training, eurhythmics and music appreciation.
Singing provides opportunities for understanding scales, expression of feelings and understanding other cultures. Singing provides children with a repertoire of melodies that they can use in the production and analysis of music.
It is at this age that children are first introduced to learning how to play the recorder, a simple wind instrument.
The feeling expressed by a piece of music, such as a folk song or composition of a great composer, can be absorbed and recognized by children. This in turn may lead to quiet listening and contemplation, to expression of the feeling in writing or in art, to the examining of qualities and characteristics of different musical instruments, or to the understanding of an era or a group of people through the music, which they produced. This may lead to the study of style and musical form. The opportunities for expansion are limitless.
Arts and Crafts
In the Montessori Elementary Class, the adult aids the child in the development of skills in order that the child may creatively express him or herself through various media. In addition to art expression for its own sake, art is an integrating factor for the rest of the curriculum. The child may utilize it in such ways as geometrical drawings, geographical maps, mathematical graphing, or illustrations for history, botany, zoology, social studies, geology, geography, physics, etc. With a variety of techniques and media at their disposal, the elementary aged children may choose appropriate forms of artistic expression for other areas of the curriculum.
A study of the historical development of artistic expression is made available within the history of material. It is developed simply at first as an idea by itself. Then, as the child matures, it is related to architecture, religion, music, literature, inventions, exploration, etc. Later it is taken again by itself and studies more deeply. Appreciation activities are a natural part of the historical study.