The Elementary Years

  • Dr. Montessori created both a philosophy and a curriculum. In 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades, we begin to transition from the Montessori classroom curriculum, while continuing to actively implement the Montessori philosophy. While we begin to follow more of a blended Montessori and traditional curriculum, we remain committed to her principles of "following the child" and educating "the whole child" in a mixed-age classroom, while valuing independence, initiative, joy, and curiosity.
  • After children learn to read, we believe that they need opportunity after opportunity to read and write. We begin using more traditional methods in language while maintaining a strong commitment to individual styles and strengths. We begin formal exposure to traditional writing structures through the 6-Trait Writing Program, which we use in grades 1 though 6. In addition, students begin literature studies, including exploration of different writing genres, and create a variety of individual and group projects through these explorations. Individual public speaking skills are formally developed through presentations of their findings to their classmates and families.
  • In math, students are still concrete thinkers at this age, and so we continue to introduce them to more advanced math concepts using materials from the Montessori 6-9 curriculum. As children begin to internalize math concepts such as operations (+, -, x, and ÷) and place value, they gradually abandon the materials without realizing that they no longer need them. In general we find that students no longer require concrete math materials by the end of 3rd grade.
  • We require more independence in our 1st through 3rd graders, so we tend not to have as many parent volunteers as in younger classrooms; however, classes may utilize parents for resource helpers, cooking helpers on special cultural studies days, and assistance for special projects or field trips. We expect our students to maintain and care for their own belongings, to dress appropriately, and to bring any homework in independently. We believe that we most effectively build meaningful self-esteem and confidence in your child by not doing tasks for him/her that he/she can do independently.
  • Homework begins in 2nd grade, in addition to expected nightly reading time of at least 15 minutes. Assignments at this age are structured primarily to encourage students to begin managing responsibility for work traveling between home and school.
  • In 4th grade, as our students move from "downstairs" to "upstairs," our transition away from the Montessori materials is complete. In the classroom, while we follow a more traditional curricular structure, we remain committed to experiential learning, giving the students appropriate choice and responsibility, and ensuring that learning is relevant and personalized.
  • Beginning in 4th grade, we expect much more individual responsibility on the part of our students. They now keep their belongings in lockers, manage their nightly homework assignments with assignment journals, and keep track of tasks required by multiple subject teachers. We support them as they learn to master this additional responsibility by supporting strong home-school communications and helping students determine effective ways to address their own organizational challenges. With responsibility comes student independence, so classroom parents are seen less frequently outside of special projects or field trips. We continue to expect our students to maintain and care for their own belongings, to dress appropriately, and to bring any homework in independently. We believe that we most effectively build meaningful self-esteem and confidence in your child by not doing tasks for him / her that he / she can do independently and they can do more each year.
  • Because language arts and social studies are so intricately connected, we combine these subject areas into one block of instruction time by a single teacher. Our three-year history curriculum begins with ancient civilizations in 4th grade, moving sequentially through time until students complete studies of U.S. government in 6th grade. Writing instruction continues to be based on the 6-Trait Writing Program that students commence in 2nd grade. Literature units are the foundation of our reading curriculum and frequently link language arts and social studies. In addition, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, critical thinking, editing, and reading comprehension are addressed both individually and within the broader context of advancing student writing.
  • Our mathematics instruction in grades 4-6 is based on the Singapore Math curriculum, which allows students to both master the mathematical concepts that they will need for secondary school and to be individually challenged at a level most appropriate for them. In addition to completing their mastery of math operations, our students explore critical thinking challenges through participation in the Continental Mathematics League and other activities that broaden their abilities in both problem creation and problem solving.
  • In grades 4-6, science instruction is formally separated from cultural studies, but it maintains the hands-on emphasis that is found in Montessori classrooms. Students explore units ranging from Missouri ecology to the systems of the human body, but always in a way that they can physically experiment with the concepts that they are studying. 5th and 6th grade students are expected to complete science fair projects, teaching them long-term planning and scheduling as well as a real-life exploration of the scientific method.
  • Students in grades 4-6 receive grades for the first time. Nightly homework continues, managed through assignment journals, and students are still expected to read nightly as well. Homework assignments will become more extensive and expand across subject areas, and they are structured to be meaningful supplements to our classroom curriculum that can be managed by the students themselves. Teachers are available upon student request outside of class time to answer questions or provide additional individual assistance.