Montessori Education at The Elementary Level
Updated: Jul 9, 2020
By Ms. Anisa Foy
“Let us give the child a vision of the whole Universe…… The Universe is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions. We shall walk together on this path of life; for all things are a part of the Universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity. This idea helps the mind of the child to become fixed, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge. He is satisfied, having found the universal center of himself with all things”
-To Educate the Human Potential, Dr. Maria Montessori
These were Dr. Montessori’s beliefs in continuing the journey of education at the elementary level. The benefits of continuing the Montessori Elementary Journey are more relevant today than at any other time in the history of education. With the advance of technology, information is easily available and new knowledge discovered before one is able to assimilate the old! In this climate of change and speed, the whole approach to education has to change. This is why education is being standardized at the national level. Education can no longer focus simply on imparting knowledge. Montessori educators are fortunate in this regard, as Dr. Montessori came to this realization over a hundred years ago! The elementary journey is Cosmic Education, where the child is given the keys to the universe.
Cosmic Education presents the child with the whole picture, starting at first grade and continuing up to the sixth grade. Knowledge is not presented as little units or subjects without any relationship to each other. This approach to education has numerous benefits, outlined briefly as follows:
Exploration and Research Skills
Once the child can see the whole picture, learning becomes an exciting process of finding the connections. The child begins to explore and research, and is given the freedom to do so. The Internet becomes a tool to learn and research. There are no limits put on the child, no cut off levels. The only limit is the child’s previous knowledge on any particular concept.
The Montessori materials are still available to the child to explain complicated concepts, easily and simply. Once the concept is understood we find the elementary child quickly abandons the material and moves on to the abstract solution of the problem.
Critical Thinking and Collaboration
The elementary child is not a loner like the primary child, the herding instinct now develops, and therefore lessons are given in small groups. Exchange of ideas and group learning is encouraged, with the teacher becoming a facilitator, and not providing every answer, but encouraging critical thinking through collaboration within the group.
The Elementary class has a mixed age group, age 6 to 9 being the lower elementary, and age 9 through 12 being the upper elementary. In a mixed age group the older child naturally learns and progresses in leadership skills. It has been my observation that these skills, though encouraged and fostered by the teacher, mostly develop spontaneously. Children love to learn from their peers, and the older child improves his own knowledge by repeating and explaining concepts to a younger child, thus boosting his own self- confidence.
The elementary child is blessed with a vivid imagination, and Montessori education harnesses this imagination in the learning process through the Five Great Lessons. These lessons open up vast areas of learning and the child’s imagination is fired up to learn more. The stories are repeated every year, and as the child matures so does the imaginative learning process.
In the Elementary years as in the primary years the child has the freedom to learn and move in the classroom. The child arrives in the elementary with a vast wealth of knowledge and continues to build on this knowledge. The freedom to move has its limits and the child already has attained a level of discipline. The child continues to mature and build on this level of discipline in a natural way. Discipline that is not imposed but grows spontaneously is the best type of discipline.
A Montessori elementary classroom has many benefits for your child, the most important one being that it provides ongoing tools for preparing the child to meet the challenges of the 21st century and a world that is changing fast.