From six to 12 years, children are highly attuned to a wider world than what they knew in early childhood and they relish the challenges of coming to know and participate in this larger realm. Their years in the Children's House have provided them with a strong foundation. They are confident making their way in the physical world and their minds are free to move on to bigger things, the bigger the better, in fact. Our curriculum responds to this priority of theirs. Their attention has turned outward and they need to be together with their peers in a new way, exploring larger concepts and working in small groups in search of reasons, connections and patterns. They want to know why! In the Montessori elementary curriculum these essentials of human knowledge are seen as parts of a vast network of interrelated information and faculty members appeal to the students' intellectual imaginations through a multi-faceted approach. We introduce a wide range of subjects through a story-telling tradition called The Great Lessons. Each fall the guides give this series of dramatic presentations that forms a foundation for studying math, language, history, and science. The stories inspire individual and small group research and projects of all sorts that students can later share with the whole class. The elementary level at Mountaintop consists of two lower elementary (6 – 9 years) classrooms and one upper elementary (9 – 12 years). All students are expected to complete specified work in each of the following and they are given time to on to choose additional work in subjects that most interest them.
Practical Life: Students are ready for new challenges in this area: planning and cooking meals in our Garden-to-Table program; planning and conducting short trips off campus to visit area museums or other sources of information for student research; physical education; and conflict mediation and student-led traditions for promoting a positive culture at school.
Education of the Senses: Classifying things that can be found outdoors on campus and other work with scientific nomenclature appeals to the elementary students. Learning to conduct experiments presents this age group with new challenges in the use of their senses and the articulation of what they observe.
Language: Elementary students love literature and creative writing. The Junior Great Books tradition of shared inquiry provides a structure for discussion based on stories that convey the timeless themes in human interaction. Student research motivates extended writing projects and provides opportunities to practice oral presentation skills. Abstract concepts in grammar are made accessible and fun with the Montessori materials.
Math and Geometry: The Montessori math materials make for a seamless transition for our students moving into the elementary years. Materials that are familiar from the Children's House continue to be used for more advanced lessons and new materials are introduced. The series of materials supports students in gradually moving from concrete work with materials to ultimately working exclusively with pencil and paper. Materials represent new concepts in a very concrete way and then with increasingly abstract representations until the manipulative are no longer needed. The curriculum, supported by these materials, allows students to simultaneously pursue both memorization of math facts and work with more complex new concepts.
Geography and History: Elementary students are naturally drawn to the awe-inspiring topics of our universe and the natural forces at work over vast expanses of time in our world. The history of human civilization and the study of fundamental needs of all cultures across time have a similar appeal for their expanding minds. At this age they study natural features that shape life on the various continents, and they begin to understand how those factors relate to political geography and economics. The accomplishments of heroes from times and places near and far are a common source of inspiration for them. Likewise, they take very seriously issues of fairness and justice in history and current events as well as withing the family and the school.
Science: Students' work includes physics, chemistry, botany & zoology, and ecology. They gain an understanding of concepts in these areas and the interdependence between them.
Creative Expression: Students gain confidence in self-expression through the visual and performing arts with both ongoing exploration and opportunities to have refined work showcased at school for other students, staff, parents or even grandparents to enjoy.