The Lower Elementary Program
The lower elementary program is composed of all children aged 6-9. Lessons in the lower elementary program are typically presented to small groups, who are then free to follow up with independent work or work scheduled for them on their individualized lesson plans.
The scope of lessons and work is quite broad and is usually referred to as a “Cosmic Education” at this age. Cosmic education is the idea that children in the second plane of development should learn more about the human role in the universe.
In this classroom natural lighting, soft colors, and uncluttered spaces set the tone for a focused and calm learning day. Children who are in this classroom will be inspired by classroom lessons that appeal to their deeper interests, need for hands on learning, and lessons that are given sequentially according to the students’ developmental needs.
All students in the lower Elementary classroom will have the opportunity to invent, explore, experiment, confer, work in groups, meet goals, and make peace. Meanwhile teachers focus on delivering high quality lessons, observing students progress, and delivering new material when old material is mastered.
Freedom within limits is expressed in this classroom. Students help teachers set rules and consequences for classroom behavior. Older children are seen as role models and leaders within the community. They help support the growth of younger children through socialization, assisting with new work, or even help in teaching work they have mastered.
Within this supportive, inclusive community, children have the opportunity to work through the curriculum at their own pace, accelerating and mastering some tasks or taking additional time to understand the material with others. Our spiral curriculum allows children to revisit favorite lessons, while engaging them on a more complex level. Children are assessed on a quarterly basis, where mastery of material and lessons is used in place of traditional letter grades.
Curriculum Areas and The Five Great Lessons
Curriculum Areas and Content
Curriculum Areas in the elementary program are broad and can encompass many different aspects. Below are the main domains of the curriculum. These domains are broken down further into sub domains, extending the depth of the curriculum. The main domains of curriculum include:
1. Practical Life: This area includes self-care, appropriate social interactions, lessons that teach responsibility and time management, and allowing children to make independent work choices.
2. Math: The ideas of numbers concepts, place values, numerals, and related quantities are reinforced and expanded upon in the Elementary program.
3. Language: Students master materials with lessons in grammar, spelling, and mechanics. They will also satisfy their creativity with creative writing and composing poetry. Reading is emphasized with age appropriate book assignments, journal writings, and poetry. Students are encouraged to read, analyze, think critically, and compare and contrast literature to support personal opinion and perspective.
4. Cultural Studies: These studies include zoology, botany, geography, geology, physical and life sciences, and anthropology. The lessons give children the opportunity to explore the interconnectedness of all living things. In-depth studies of history, physical geography, civics, economics, peace and justice, the arts, world languages, and physical education are introduced.
5. Science and Social Studies: In-depth studies of geology, geography, physical and life sciences, anthropology, and history are built around “Great Lessons”, which are a series of dramatic stories the explore the origins of the universe, our planet, and the continuous development of humans. In-depth physics, chemistry, studies of civilizations, and history are given and explored. Lessons on responsible citizenship and how to make the world a better, more peaceful place is discussed.
The Five Great Lessons
As first conceived by Maria Montessori, Italy’s first female physician, when children are allowed to learn at their own pace with their own interests, they will take control of their own education.
The five great lessons give children a starting point on what material they can choose from to study over the next several weeks. The lessons are given in order and are used to describe and explain the universe and our world.
The five great lessons are as follows:
1. Coming of the Universe and Earth: Presented in an overview fashion, teachers develop experiments that help children understand one big lesson ,by breaking it down into many smaller lessons given over time.
2. Coming of Life: In this lesson, students learn about living things and their jobs. Visual timelines of life will break down eras, extinctions, and other major life events. In this unit children typically learn about dinosaurs, animals, plants, and microorganisms. These topics are addressed in small groups and experiments, hands on learning, and research activities are done to further knowledge on each subject.
3. Humans Come to Earth: In this lesson, students focus on the development of humans through history. They explore ancient civilizations, the first humans, and the many human inventions. Students will learn about everything from farming to food preparation, art to spirituality, transportation to technology, and medicine. Most importantly, children learn to understand their existence, their place in the world, personal responsibility, and how to better society.
4. Communication and Writing: In this lesson, teachers detail the study of folklore, mythology, language, alphabets, grammar, sentence structure, and world study. Everything from ancient hieroglyphics, Greek and Latin Letters, to cave paintings and picture communication is studied and discussed.
5. Numbers: In this lesson, students learn about mathematics. The story of numbers helps students delve deeper into learning about calendars, systems and units of measurement, applications of numbers in everyday life, and economic geography.