Scholarship. Creativity. Collaboration. Leadership. Adaptability. These are the attributes of our Elementary children who are ready to take on challenges and become leaders in our community.
With a stronger sense of themselves as individuals, children in our Elementary program work together and learn to see the world from different perspectives. Through materials, curriculum and targeted activities, our AMI-certified teachers cultivate negotiation skills, trust, and a strong sense of empathy.
MSGH offers a Lower Elementary Program for children ages 6 to 9 and an Upper Elementary Program for ages 9 to 12. Both are designed to appeal and respond to the universal characteristics of elementary-age children, including their:
- overwhelming curiosity;
- ability to think abstractly and use logic and reason;
- strong and active imaginations;
- preference for learning material in multiple ways, instead of by rote repetition;
- great desire to expand their social skills and work with others;
- strong sense of fairness and justice.
The ‘standardized curriculum’ - the hallmark of conventional education - divides knowledge into discreet, compartmentalized subject areas and limits the child to learning ‘pieces and parts’ in a prescribed order, at a prescribed pace. In contrast, a Montessori education gives Elementary children a broad, inter-disciplinary context for learning that allows each child to learn at his or her own most natural and productive pace. Students can advance rapidly in areas of strength while taking extra time to master and revisit material that may be more challenging. In Montessori’s individualized, mixed-age setting, the child works freely without feeling (or being labeled) either ‘ahead’ or ‘behind.’
Interdisciplinary, Self-Directed Learning
Students are provided with a broad, interdisciplinary context for learning through presentations of Montessori’s “Great Lessons,” which typically are shared with larger groups in a formal, storytelling format. More detailed information is presented in small group “Key Lessons.” Key lessons pave the way for deeper learning by inspiring student-initiated research projects and independent study, which can be pursued in small groups, individually, or with a friend.
Lessons in subject areas such as mathematics, language, history, geometry, geography and biology are presented in small groups or to individual students. Lower Elementary children typically spend more time with subject-specific manipulative materials, while older children work at increasingly higher levels of abstraction. Art, music, and Spanish are integrated seamlessly into the student’s daily work.
Whenever possible, the teacher endeavors to present lessons when a child is at peak readiness – one student will have seen an older child do something more advanced and want to know more, while another will realize that new skills or knowledge are needed to make progress on a favorite project. In all cases, lessons are presented at a level of challenge tailored to the student’s abilities and interest.
The Montessori Elementary teacher actively follows, supports and records each child’s progress and ensures that all children cover the full curriculum over the course of the three-year Lower or Upper Elementary program. MSGH students are expected, at a minimum, to master the components of the public school curriculum, and in addition, are exposed to an open-ended Montessori curriculum that encourages them to explore their interests in depth, make connections across subjects and experience the thrill of discovery.
The mixed-age classroom provides children with many opportunities to find work partners (younger, same age, or older) who share their interests or learn at a similar level and pace. Age differences also create unique learning opportunities: older children can consolidate their knowledge by mentoring and teaching younger children and can strengthen their leadership skills by modeling appropriate behavior, mediating conflicts and leading large projects. Younger children, in turn, can find inspiration for higher-level studies by seeing what their older classmates can do, and often teach themselves by ‘tagging-along’ with older, more knowledgeable classmates.
Learning in the Community
Students are encouraged to extend their studies and research projects beyond the walls of the classroom and to engage with the wider world of local business, service organizations, libraries, museums and natural habitats. Elementary students regularly plan their own “going outs” to find answers to their research questions or to serve the community in ways that have personal meaning.
Parent Observations, Student Visits
Parents of prospective students are encouraged to experience a working Elementary classroom for themselves by planning a visit during the school year. Visiting parents receive a full tour of the school and observe the classroom during the morning work cycle. Prospective students join the classroom for a minimum of two full days as part of the admissions process.
Teachers: Our Elementary teachers have Masters-level educations and have also earned diplomas from accredited Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) Training Centers. MSGH’s AMI-trained Spanish teacher visits the classroom regularly to converse and present Montessori lessons in Spanish.
Full-day and All Day Programs: The school day begins at 8:30 and ends at 3:15. An extended care program is available from 3:15 to 5:30, during which students may work with classroom materials, read, engage in developmentally-appropriate games and crafts, and enjoy outdoor play.
Early Morning Care: Early morning care is available from 7:30 to 8:10.
Transition: One of the most frequently asked questions of any Montessori school is: How will children adapt when they transition to a new school? What we have seen is that students successfully transition to the next level and consciously build on their Montessori experience, finding it has given them a solid academic base, along with a diverse set of skills, such as: time management skills, collaborative work skills, leadership skills and problem solving skills. Other observations are that Montessori students have faith in adults, display an understanding of community, and a willingness to do community service. For more information, check out life after MSGH. If you have more questions about this or other aspects of MSGH, please feel free to contact us.