The theme of Montessori Cosmic Education is to not only produce great scholars, but also respectful, committed, loving and caring leaders. With that goal in mind, the Arborland Montessori Children’s Academy curriculum can be broken down by subject below.
Montessori education at the elementary level continues on with many of the same principles used in primary. We go from the simple to the complex, and from the concrete to the symbolic to the abstract. Children exercise freedom in choosing work and with whom they will work. The teacher limits the freedom when necessary in respect to the rights of others. Children, in turn, learn to maintain this balance between liberty and limits.
The child’s tendency for order turns now toward the order of society. The child exhibits an interest in fairness: he/she often “tattletales” simply to find out what behavior is or is not acceptable within the social group of family or school. The Montessori elementary school teacher explains the class rules and their commonsense foundation. The aim is that when the children see that rules serve to protect them and the rights of others, they willingly obey and enforce such rules.
Elementary education integrates all subject areas. Each area relates to the child’s life, other human lives throughout time, the universe, and its source. Children get more motivated to learn about any subject when they see how it relates to bigger questions that begin to enter their minds at the elementary level: Why am I here? How did the universe get created? What is the purpose of life? The child in the elementary level (6-12 years) looks for underlying causes and explanations. He/she wants to know why and how with regards to everything.
Early work in elementary emphasizes anthropology and social history rather than memorization of dates and names of famous people. The teacher presents one of the Great Lessons about the first human beings along with a timeline depicting scenes from the story. Later history work involves using charts and pictures with questions concerning a group of people to explore any culture in the world at anytime. Starting from the study of early man/achievements of man/creation of societies, the child proceeds to study the great river civilizations and is led to the study of the world as it is today. In keeping with the California content standards, study of family, city, county, state history, US History and world history is woven into these themes. The study of early and modern cultures of the world culminate every year in spring when the children participate in International Culture Day preparation, and present what they have learned to their parents, relatives and friends.
Our history lessons involve all acts in the drama of creation as being part of a celestial play. Montessori treats history as a great story, a drama that unfolds as a part of a greater picture. Stories and timelines reveal that the creation of the earth and evolution of its species took millions of years, and this drama continues to unfold. The geological and scientific processes which were set in motion to act out and perpetuate this play are explored. Such lessons enliven the imagination of children while building a framework within which all other studies will fit.
Our primary students learn to read while our elementary students read to learn. Language at the elementary level becomes an imaginative exploration of origin and development. At this plane, language is not presented in isolation as separate subjects, not just spelling and grammar learned for its own sake. Composition is not just writing for the sake of writing, but to tell a story, explore an idea, do a research paper. Books are not read to be analyzed for reports, but to be enjoyed and appreciated. Children are led to recognize style and develop their own technique. This whole approach to language leads to clear thinking, precise writing, eloquence in communicating ideas, and a development of style that is individualized to each child. When the child is encouraged to read for enjoyment, reading to acquire knowledge on a new subject comes naturally and is not a chore.
Language units are presented as themes which present all aspects of language as a whole and relates to the story of the theme. Each subject also has a cross curriculum reference to Science, Art, Math, Music and Social Science.
This area of geography brings the awareness of interdependence of human beings in society. The need for this is as relevant today as it was when Dr. Montessori first introduced it. We make the child aware they are a part of society, and their well-being depends on the contributions of other human beings with whom they may not have direct contact. The following concepts are introduced and covered:
In this area of study, the aim is to impress upon the child that as civilization has progressed we have more and more trade and more and more commerce. It is in this way that the nations of the world are tied together, making them into a single unit. They are so interconnected that if one little market is cut off, it affects the rest of the world – just like the body: if you have one part that hurts, the whole body aches! The children are kept updated on current world and national events through appropriate discussions, and inclusion in the school newspaper and the weekly news broadcast.
We begin by giving the child a historical perspective of geometry, through stories of the early Greeks, Pythagoras and the Egyptians. This is for two reasons:
During the course of our study we do work that centers around six topics:
Mathematics has been a part of man’s innovations and advancements since the beginning of time. The tendency of human beings to create and invent is based on law, order and exactness. The desire for organization of facts is inherent within us and belongs to the human being universally; and therefore also belongs to the child. Dr. Montessori believed that all human beings have the capability to cultivate a mathematical mind. She maintained throughout her studies that the process used to acquire a language is more complex than the process of mastering mathematics. The reason that a child will develop language skills with relative ease is due to having a greater exposure to language from the moment he is born. In a Montessori environment, the child is given exposure to all aspects of math starting from the primary classroom, thereby establishing a similar process of immersion into the subject as with language in the child’s home life.
In the elementary classroom, mathematics starts with the Story of Numbers, which outlines how our decimal systems and numbers were developed. After the presentation of the concept of the Million (children arrive in the elementary class understanding the concept of place value through the Thousands place) the presentation of math proceeds as follows:
Exposure to music is important in a child’s life, not because we hope to produce great musicians (though that does happen spontaneously!), but because it is a means of expressing emotions. Being musical is not just for special people. Just as we learn to walk, any individual can learn to be musical. One does not have to be musically gifted or have a great voice to sing with children. For the purposes of musical appreciation in children we have the following topics of study:
Music appreciation and history
Lessons to discriminate pitches
Introduction to different musical instruments
Study of great composers
Participation and presentation on stage
In addition to language arts, visual art is another method of communication. Many artists have demonstrated their expression in a visual form through the ages. Thoughts and feelings can be effectively conveyed through drawing, painting and even sculpting. The elementary art program at Arborland intends to instill the importance of creativity and art in daily life, helping the child use it as a means of expression and communication.
The students learn to use lines, shapes, colors, textures, forms, spaces, and different medium to create their expression. They learn to draw, paint, and survey the different artistic eras and the most popular artists of these times. As children learn the historical progression of art, they will have a much better understanding that being artistic is a skill that is developed over time, and will lead them to have a better appreciation of different works of art. In addition, as the children learn about the eras, they will also discover the different styles and techniques used by renowned artists, allowing them to develop their creative abilities.
In the Montessori classroom, teachers develop a complete and well-rounded student. This philosophy is not limited to the classroom, it extends to outdoor curriculum where the instruction of physical education takes place.
Physical education in the elementary level includes the development of physical strength, coordination and grace of movement. Access to an outdoor environment is provided for running, jumping, climbing, swinging, catching, and ball games to help elementary students develop locomotor, non-locomotor, and perceptual skills. While participating in these activities, the student will also learn the difference between personal space, general space, and spatial awareness. Students also learn how to effectively participate in a team environment by working together to reach a common goal. In addition, they learn sportsmanship and how to deal with both winning and losing in an acceptable way. As they improve their bodies, they also enhance their minds.
At Arborland, the computer is presented very carefully as a scientific tool to be used to aid education, not as an item to replace learning or research skills, nor as a toy to play games on.
The teacher never replaces personal lessons for learning on the computer. We believe that the elementary age child is not in a position to be given the responsibility for learning a subject entirely on his/her own without teacher direction and guidance. We do recognize the need for the child to be introduced to the computer responsibly and our lessons are geared towards that end.
Many adults are intimidated by the stage and the audience. Our mind tends to turn blank when we see so many eyes looking at us. At Arborland, we believe that stage fright can be overcome if the children are exposed to performance in early ages and grow into habit with repetitions. During the school year, students have numerous opportunities to perform – be it singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument, acting or giving a speech. These productions have become a regular part of the school culture, turning them into a norm that encourages students to love the stage. As these performances abound, students learn to take pleasure in performing for an audience instead of being afraid of them. At Arborland, every student becomes a star. Our students are our society’s future leaders, and a strong stage presence will help them get there.
Public speaking and expressive speech is a very important part of our school curriculum. The children are encouraged to read aloud, write and recite poetry, make oral presentations, and refine acting and drama skills. These skills are further enhanced in the final sixth year through broadcasting classes.
We have a fully equipped in-house radio station attached to our upper elementary classroom. Here the children hone their journalistic and public speaking skills by writing and producing a weekly lunch time radio show which is broadcast throughout the school. “The Arborland Audio Magazine” includes, school, local and international news, comments, weather, sports, and any item of interest to the school or community.
What sets Arborland elementary apart from other schools is its commitment to the children’s character development. Children are taught to be responsible at an early age, making them solely accountable for their assignments and behaviors. Grace and courtesy lessons are taught on a regular basis. When the students show good manners, they will be more readily accepted into society.
Our students are instilled with the value of respect towards others and their property, helping the children understand the consequences of their good behaviors and inappropriate actions. The students are taught that the results of their actions are based on their own choices and not anyone else’s. When the children are met with disagreements, they are also guided as to how to resolve the conflict: to respect another’s opinion even if it differs from his own and to continue communication even if there is contradiction.
According to Dr. Maria Montessori, “there is a need for whole men, which means that all sides of the personality must develop.” With this philosophy in mind, Arborland does not only develop the intellectual capacity of its students, but also includes the development of physical strength, coordination and grace of movement. At Arborland, ample outdoor space is available to the students, allowing them to run, jump, climb, swing, play ball and engage in other physical activities that are important for the healthy growth of a child.
Physical education in a Montessori elementary relates to other subject areas as well. The history of different sports will be discussed. Reading can be tested during impromptu physical education sessions. The teacher writes each child a command slip which he/she must perform. The complexity of the written command depends upon the reading level of the child. This motivates children to read so they can join in the fun. Commands such as “walk backwards” teach the child to watch where he/she is going and to be conscious of the movements of others. Math can also be practiced during physical education. Children can run races and then measure the distance that they ran in meters and centimeters.
Musical rhythms are taught first by having the teacher play the rhythm. The children move as the rhythm suggests. The teacher does not tell the children how to move, but allows them to feel the rhythm for themselves. When they listen, the repetition of a dotted quarter note followed by an eighth note will feel like skipping or galloping to them. They may follow a leader as they move, each child taking a turn as leader, allowing them to experience other children’s interpretations of the music. Later, students learn notation, and specific musicians and instruments are introduced. Then, the children are able to share their joy of music at our winter and spring recitals.
Biology also ties in with music, geography, art and other facets of human life. Children may learn the song “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” which mentions Virginia creepers, a kind of climbing stem. Geography studies reveal how temperature and degree of precipitation determine plant life. Many art projects flow out of botany work. Children can draw and label leaf shapes, creating a booklet or a chart. Beautiful decorations placed down the margins of math papers both integrate art into the curriculum and make the child more proud of his/her work.
The child in elementary education has a great mental capacity to reach out and search the universe for knowledge. Dare to give your child that universe from the ages 6 to 12 in a Montessori elementary! Your child will learn the basics but will also soon soar far beyond in his/her exploration and knowledge.
Our Montessori elementary program aims to actualize your child’s mental capacity, and also challenge them to reach beyond what is presented and search the universe for further knowledge. Help your child to reach their potential by enrolling them in a Montessori elementary program. See how soon your student will soar beyond expectations, and begin to search independently for knowledge!