As your child moves from the Primary classroom to the Elementary one, his field of inquiry expands from the world to the entire universe. The elementary curriculum is founded in the integration of language and literature, mathematics, science, geography, environmental studies, art, music, and drama.
- Children at this age don’t need boundaries between subject areas — they want to see connections. They want to understand both the universe and their place in it.
That’s why we present them with what we call the cosmos — and the freedom to explore it in any way they choose. Guides give individual and group instruction throughout the day, based on interest and developmental ability. And your child will choose his work freely, doing the research to answer the questions that naturally occur to him each day. The prepared environment is designed to both develop basic skills in reading, writing, and math, as well as spark your child’s imagination.
On a typical day, your child may spend some time reading, conduct a science experiment, create a map of his neighborhood, learn about ancient Aztec society, and get some hands-on instruction in the fine art of fractions.
Or he may need to head out into the larger community – to interview a biologist at the University of Washington for his research project; or to participate in a work party at the local community farm; or to the corner store for food for the classroom tortoise. These “Going Out” trips are different from the traditional school field trip (although we have those, too): they are student-initiated, student-planned, and are based upon the needs of the student or of the class community. Going Out in the Elementary is the natural extension of the Practical Life and Grace and Courtesy experiences of the Toddler and Primary Programs.
- In a Three Tree Montessori elementary classroom, it’s not about memorizing facts, but about learning how to think.
Critical thinking skills combined with curiosity lead to creativity, enthusiasm and discovery. We believe that getting the right answers is, ultimately, less important than learning how to ask the right questions, think through problems, and adjust to changing situations.
Students in the elementary classroom are expected to become increasingly responsible for their own education. The students keep an accurate work journal to record all the lessons, follow-up work, and independently-chosen work they’ve accomplished. They also meet frequently with their guide, who ensures each child is working to her full potential. This freedom with responsibility is a cornerstone of Montessori education.
Your child will find continued joy in learning, while improving self-discipline, critical thinking, and planning skills. Throughout it all, he will learn a deep respect for his classmates and develop a commitment to participating in in the community of the classroom, the school, and the world.
The elementary program – a private school program approved by the Washington State Board of Education – is broken up into two groups: the Lower Elementary for ages 6 to 9 (first through third grades) and the Upper Elementary for children ages 9 to 12 (fourth through sixth grades).