The Montessori elementary classroom offers a carefully prepared learning environment designed to address the psychological characteristics and developmental needs of the 6-12 year old child. The 6-9 child, first through third grade, is in Lower Elementary and the 9-12 child, fourth through sixth grade, is in Upper Elementary.
Each classroom provides a unique, interdisciplinary context for learning. Math, language, science, geography, history, and biology are all introduced as part of the great breadth and depth of human experience, clearly showing their interrelatedness. In addition, there are classes in music, art and P.E. each taught by specialists trained in their field.
Students work in small groups with specially created Montessori materials, developing a deep understanding of fundamental concepts in each of the subject areas. As the child becomes increasingly able to work on an abstract level, reading, writing and math become tools for learning about the world.
Throughout the elementary years, students engage in meaningful ways by following their natural curiosities. This fosters independence, strengthens self-confidence, builds creative problem solving and develops empathy and respect for the world around them.
The expertise of the Montessori teacher enables the child to learn through guided exploration and discovery, rather than through rote learning, using the tools of research to analyze information and to understand subject matter for herself. Above all, the curriculum in the elementary program is designed to capture the imagination of the child and promote a lifelong love of learning.
The Montessori elementary classroom is built on the understanding that children at this stage of development:
- Have logical, reasoning minds and are able to think abstractly
- Have an active imagination to support learning
- Have a strong sense of justice and fairness
- Have a natural attraction to group work and establishing social skills
At Eagle Peak, we guide children to strengthen their emotional, social, physical and intellectual development. The Montessori elementary classroom fosters this through:
- multi-age classroom
- collaborative learning
- individualized work plans
- integrated curricula
Eagle Peak’s Montessori Adolescent Program is centered around the connection among the Hands, Heart, and Mind. This connection is the core of the development of a holistic curriculum in the same way it is the core for our development as humans.
The adolescent component of Eagle Peak Montessori school demonstrates how planned and constructivist driven curriculum can flow together to meet the academic as well as the holistic needs (social, emotional and psychological) of the adolescent. Current brain and developmental research support the theories that Dr. Maria Montessori espoused almost 70 years ago regarding how adolescents develop and how their minds absorb and process information. Not only do they need to be participants, but more importantly they need to be the developers of their education and learning.
In the adolescent Program, teachers provide the academic framework and expectations, the guides and the scope of the material to be covered. The students explore, experiment, research and then disseminate the subject matter. The scope and sequence of the Adolescent curriculum has been developed to meet both state science and history standards as well as the Common Core Standards.
The new Common Core standards are perfectly suited for this type of program because every subject, including mathematics, contains a language element and a critical thinking element. This allows for discussion and presentations that the students can create.
Often in traditional education we see the academic rigor increase as students move into middle school. However, the other needs, especially the need to work with their hands and to create, are most times pushed to the side. The Montessori Adolescent Program however, has a key component, which is the Erdkinder. During the Erdkinder experience students participate in a carefully thought out experiential program via an overarching social or environmental theme, which carries through into the classroom curriculum. This may be manifested through growing food, building coops for chickens, working fields at a partnership farm or simply a variety of artistic outlets. We feel that to truly feed the physical, mental and emotional development of the adolescent, this component is essential. Every 6-8 weeks cycles of study will be introduced with a focus on the next elements and themes, complementing the overarching theme of the school year. We will elicit the help of volunteers both in the Eagle Peak family and in the outside community to help provide guidance for these experiences.
Community involvement and social justice are more than mere concepts in a Montessori Adolescent Program. They are embraced and acted upon. Students research and find their passion and interest and learn how to become involved agents of change. To help provide structure for them in developing these interests, the students will participate in the Model UN for Montessori Schools. The Montessori Model UN emphasizes cooperation as opposed to competition. Eagle Peak’s vision statement develops a foundation for the entire educational program including the Adolescent Program as it clearly expresses:
“It is our belief that by learning without artificial boundaries and discovering their capacity to live in peace, children will become life-long learners and responsible citizens whose actions reflect sound character, ethical behavior, and a clear understanding of their own and others’ self- worth and dignity. Our students will become socially aware, responsible people, who live in harmony with nature as stewards of the earth.”