In the Upper Elementary classroom, we continue to prepare our students to be Citizens of the World. They learn to apply the foundational language and mathematical skills they have learned both as independent thinkers as well as effective collaborative group members.
Students are assessed independently on their mathematical skills and are guided through an individualized mathematics program. Concrete materials are used to introduce all mathematical concepts and gradually students work towards abstract thought. Critical thinking and problem solving skills are key attributes of the program.
Students continue to gain an awareness and appreciation of the natural world and cultural studies, as well as their civic virtue. Students are presented with lessons that open the wonder of the universe to the child. Their cultural studies center around the “Needs of Humans” work in which they study people of different cultures without judgment. They already understand that humans have different ways to express and fulfill their needs and that all humans possess the same fundamental needs. At this age, students have more advanced thinking and interests to help them consider and research topics outside of themselves. The integrated curriculum, history simulations, and the inquiry-based science allow an environment for students to become truly excited about learning.
The 9-12 year old students acquire an understanding of the natural world by attending an Outdoor Education Camp each year in which classes involving environmental studies, pollution, and animal and plant wildlife are studied. Each of the camps is designed to promote team building, the YMCA core values of caring, respect, honesty and responsibility and include vocabulary for achievement concepts. The multi-disciplinary approach incorporates science, math and social studies within a natural classroom to give students a greater understanding and appreciation of nature.
At this level, technology is used more commonly. Chromebooks are available to each student and the students are avid users of Google Apps for Education. They use the computer to write stories and papers and utilize the internet as a research tool using databases and graphs for science. The SMART board enhances learning and interactive approaches to many concepts and skills. Students create websites, presentations, and learn many valuable skills that are necessary for today’s global business world.
Service-Learning is an important aspect of Montessori education. Our students serve as group leaders for our biweekly K-8 PEACE PALS. They also read with their Lower Elementary Book Buddies weekly. Our Upper Elementary class determines service-learning opportunities each year. We may visit nursing homes, pull weeds, work with the animals at the Humane Society, knit hats, make sensory blankets for Wood Lane School or choose from many other projects. These opportunities train students for leadership and service to the community.
The Upper Elementary Program is an all encompassing program that meets the state standard curriculum, but then goes further. There is focus on the growth of the whole child; intellectual, mental, emotional and physical. Students are given guided choices and freedoms within the classroom. Allowing such freedoms enable students to become more independent and better prepared for their future. Mental and emotional growth is encouraged through continuing lessons on grace and courtesy and using appropriate and calm language to handle conflict. Focus is placed on respecting the classroom, teachers, other students and oneself. Students have the right to a respectful classroom, but they have the responsibility to speak kindly and calmly.
Students at this level continue to grow academically as well as in all other areas. They are learning the necessary skills to become successful global citizens.
The school day is 8:30am – 3:15pm. We do have extended care available 7:15am – 5:30pm. Students are offered a wide range of extracurricular activities including cross country, track and chess club. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or to schedule a tour.
THE FLOWERING OF CHILDHOOD , by John Snyder
The years 9-12 are the flowering of childhood. All the preparation and hard work done in the Children’s House and the first three years of the elementary come to fruition. All the characteristics that we see in the first half of the elementary are present in the second half, but they are typically intensified or more complex in some way. The attraction to peers becomes an obsession; the impatience with not knowing becomes an impatience with faulty reasoning and explanations; the enthusiasm for trying out new things becomes a need to test and challenge oneself physically and mentally.
The trend toward interiority and “hidden powers” which we saw as the child moved from the First Plane to the Second Plane continues, and the older child often delights in presenting herself to us as an enigma. She is, after all, increasingly an enigma to herself – a riddle that must wait to be solved in adolescence.
Above all, older children are astonishingly capable and need opportunities to demonstrate to themselves and others just how capable they are. This is the time of Great Work; of impossibly ambitious projects, often undertaken with a group; of whole-class projects, including camping trips organized by the children, challenging plays, community service, art or science fairs, field days organized for the younger elementary children, and the like.
The children’s ever-increasing capacity for abstract thinking and self-reflection make the last half of the elementary a good time to begin gradually to shift the focus from factual learning to learning how to learn and conscious reflection on one’s learning. (This emphasis will only continue and intensify in adolescence.) The stellar results we see from Montessori children in high school and young adulthood owe much to the development of these high-level thinking skills, an example of what neuroscientists call executive functions.
The Montessori Upper Elementary supports the children’s higher-level thinking by providing frameworks for learning and exploration (e.g., history question charts, biological classification materials, templates for writing various kinds of essays, the scientific method); strategies for achieving one’s goals (e.g., research skills, collaboration skills, getting and giving feedback); processes for effective workflow (e.g., time management skills, project management skills, experience with the full writing cycle); and habits of mind that characterize the life-long learner (e.g., self-regulation and evaluation, goal setting, open-mindedness, flexible attention, pacing oneself, confidence in one’s abilities, resilience, and friendliness with error).
In the beautiful, well-tended flowering of childhood are the seeds of a healthy, happy adolescence.