(By Tim Seldin, Montessori Foundation)
The unfolding of the Montessori curriculum begins with the 5 Great Lessons, which provide a framework for all other areas of study. These exciting lessons, given at the beginning of each year, are designed to ignite the children’s curiosity. Each area of study is brought to life for the children through hands on experiences. The children explore biology through activities such as collecting leaves in the forest and caring for classroom pets. The children observe scientific demonstrations and have the opportunity to do individual experiments on a daily basis. These foundational experiences will aid the children in becoming scientifically literate citizens who love and care for our planet.
In a Montessori classroom, all mathematical concepts are introduced with concrete materials. The children move from a concrete understanding of each operation to an abstract understanding at their own pace. In Language Arts, grammar is connected to symbols, and we appeal to the child’s reason by providing not just spelling rules, but historical context as to why they exist. History is told as a story of human ingenuity and instills a sense of gratitude and appreciation in each child. Presenting traditional subjects in this way helps to foster a deep love for learning.
The 5 Great Lessons
Mathematics and Geometry
One of the most beloved parts of our program is our wellness program. The children participate in winter sports like snowshoeing and skiing, as well as warm weather activities like hiking, biking and running. We also incorporate yoga and mindfulness in to our daily routine. The goal of PE is not just to get the wiggles out, but to connect children to activities they can enjoy as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Each Child’s Unique Interests!
The children are encouraged to explore their own unique interests through individualized and small group research projects. They gain information from library books, internet searches, interviews with experts and individualized field- trips or “going outs”.
One of the things that you will see when you enter their new elementary classroom is joy, excitement and enthusiasm. These are not children who are given workbooks and simplistic assignments to do over and over again. These will normally become deeply engaged in work that they will find interesting, meaningful, and often intriguing.
You will find that the elementary Montessori curriculum is highly enriched and challenging.
It is organized into three streams:
The first stream is the Mastery of Fundamental Skills and the acquisition of Basic, or Core, Knowledge. During the elementary years, Montessori students study all the basics found in a traditional curriculum, such as the memorization of math facts, spelling lessons, and the study of vocabulary, grammar, sentence analysis, creative and expository writing, and library research skills. But there is so much more to Montessori than the Basics!
Elementary Montessori students explore realm of mathematics, science and technology, the world of myth, great literature, history, world geography, civics, economics, anthropology, and the basic organization of human societies.
In this second stream of Montessori curriculum are found what we call "Great Lessons". These are key areas of interconnected studies that are traditionally presented to all elementary Montessori students. They include the story of how the world came to be, the development of life on the Earth, the story of humankind, the development of our language and writing, and the development of mathematics and technology. They are intended to give children a "cosmic" perspective of the Earth and humanity's place within the cosmos.
The third stream of Montessori curriculum is Individually Chosen Research. As their proficiency in reading and composition grows, elementary Montessori students are encouraged to explore ever topic that captures their imagination. Students rarely use textbooks. They do a great deal of independent reading and library research. They gather information, assemble reports and portfolios and handmade books of their own, and teach what they have learned to their friends. Their oral presentations and written research reports grow in sophistication and complexity over the years.
At the elementary level, learning continue to be a hands-on experience, as students learn by trial, error and discovery.
The old familiar Montessori materials continue to become more sophisticated. For example, in mathematics, the advanced elementary Montessori materials move on to more complex and abstract concepts in mathematics, such as long multiplication and division, operations with simple and decimal fractions, geometry, and pre-algebra.
The learning materials with which students work in the elementary program are so exciting, starting with the great lessons. For example the Timeline of Life tells the story about the history of the Earth beginning with the Big Bang and the formation of the stars, leading down the geological eras of Earth's history and the emergence of life over the millennia. These Great Lessons engage children and then send them off to do all kinds of research, which they are allowed to do on their own rate and their own pace. When students are excited about something and feel connected to it in their environment, that's where real learning takes place, and that's where Montessori shines.
Montessori helps children to be flexible, self-disciplined, independent learners and self-actualized adults. We all want our children to be able to say "Whatever I have to master or learn, I can figure it out, I can find the information, I can learn it, I can apply it." That is essentially what we strive to nurture in the elementary program.
“One of the things that you will see when you enter their new elementary classroom is joy, excitement and enthusiasm. These are not children who are given workbooks and simplistic assignments to do over and over again. These will normally become deeply engaged in work that they will find interesting, meaningful, and often intriguing”. - Tim Seldin, Montessori Foundation
The Lower Elementary class consists of children in years 1-3 of their Montessori Elementary Education. Children of this age are characteristically imaginative, social and creative. Our classroom environment has been carefully cultivated to support the elementary child’s burgeoning independence and vast potential for intellectual growth. Our aim is to help each child discover both the universe and their place in it.
Our mornings begin with a 3 hour uninterrupted work cycle. During this time, some children receive small group presentations as the rest of their classmates work independently on activities such as math, handwriting, research and experiments. The children are given the freedom to choose where they work, who they work with, and what they work on. They keep a daily record of how they spend their time, which gets more detailed as they get older. The elementary curriculum is limited only by a child’s imagination. This makes for a fun and dynamic learning environment, where no two days are exactly alike.
The Montessori Elementary program offers an unparalleled opportunity for the ongoing development of your child who has been nurtured in the Primary program. He is entering a new period in his life; this imaginative, social, creative child needs a planned environment and expansive course of study to support his burgeoning independence and potential. The Montessori Elementary program, for children between the ages of six and twelve, is designed to meet the needs of your child in this phase of development. This experience will shape not only his knowledge and skills, but also his attitude about learning for the rest of his life. Montessori Elementary classrooms across the world share the following traits:
"...your mindfulness and thoughtfulness of everyone in the classroom is simply amazing".
- JSM Parent
"We see the proof everyday in our energetic son, who can't wait to get to school every morning, and is so excited and overjoyed about learning."
- JSM Parent
"We LOVE Joyful Scholars Montessori - thank you for all of the hard work and time you put into making JSM such a wonderful place to go to school."
- JSM Parent
Registration for the 2020/2021 school year is currently open!
Joyful Scholars is the only preschool through high school in the valley that provides a traditional Montessori education. In addition, it's the only private school with a focus on bilingual instruction. Students enjoy a low teacher-student ratio, project-based learning, individual instruction, and a host of exceptional learning activities.