While many public elementary school programs today spend the preponderance of their time on the reading, writing and math, the areas subject to high-stakes testing in public schools, our Montessori elementary program continues to offer a well-rounded curriculum. Our goal is not to ace tests by memorizing jargon; instead, we want to equip students to understand the fascinating world they live in; to sustain their curiosity and keep asking and answering questions throughout their elementary years, questions that they find interesting, answers that they will remember, and not forget right after the test.
- Inspiration via the Montessori Great Stories. While many other curricular start small, Montessori elementary starts big! The Montessori Great Stories tell about the origin of things of meaning to children—the origin of the world, of life, of humans, of language, of writing, of mathematics. They provide a scaffold that children can hang the knowledge they acquire in the classroom on, and they leverage curiosity and imagination to keep learning intrinsically motivated.
- A science program based on experiential learning. Our science program aims to help children understand the world around them. It helps children discover answers to common questions they ask: Why do we have night and day, and summer and winter? What happens when we stir salt in a solution? Where do pebbles come from? Answers come from teacher lessons, often using models or experiments, as well as form independent work, which may be guided by written instructions. Often, we integrate field trips to help children see how what they learn in class plays out in the real world. For example, during the 2012/13 school year, we studied the work of wind and water. Among many other things, children chose rough rocks, and processed them in a rock tumbler, learning how abrasion smoothens rocks into pebbles. They worked with a river model, and observed how water causes erosion. They went on a field trip to the Bay Model at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, and experienced the force of water directly on a wild water rafting multi-day camping trip.
- A systematic geography curriculum. Geography is one of the great strengths of Montessori! In our elementary program, we build upon the puzzle maps children worked with in Children’s House. Instead of just drawing political boundaries, students now learn about more advanced content, from flags to capitals, from mountain ranges to rivers, from animals to plants. They also learn about other map skills, such as identifying compass directions, map scales and naming physical features.
History study centered around understanding the lives of people in different ages and places. The Montessori elementary history curriculum builds on a strong foundation of helping children understand how the lives of humans have changed throughout time. First graders begin by identifying how they, today, satisfy a wide range of fundamental human needs—from food to shelter, from defense and transportation to spiritual needs. They then apply this concept of fundamental needs of man toward studying people throughout history, and in different places today. Combined with related reading, this makes for a vivid introduction to ideas in history, and lays the foundation for later, chronological study in history.