Goals of Elementary
What Are the Goals of the Elementary Classroom?
The academic and social mission of the Elementary program is to respond to the older child’s changing needs, abilities, and sensitivities. The tendency to explore, order the environment, to imagine and think in abstract terms moves the child towards independence. The boundaries for the older Child’s environment are expanded both cognitively and abstractly. Students develop self-esteem and learn to think for themselves by becoming fully engaged in the process of their own learning: through the nurturing of lasting individual and community-oriented habits.
In a Montessori classroom, the materials are carefully selected and displayed with the expectation that children will be drawn to and interact with the work. With such enticing materials and lessons, it can be challenging for a child to organize his/her day and complete the work expected by the teacher.
In the 3-5 environment, children are free to choose work that is engaging to them. Beginning with the ages of 5-12, expectations shift and children learn to independently organize their day to choose appropriate curricular work with the ultimate goal being a self-sufficient child. The teacher assists the children in the planning of their work and goals.
Initially, some children may have difficulties choosing appropriate work and then tracking the work that may have an assigned date of completion. The teacher will intercede to help the child make a routine of choosing and recording work. Your child’s daily/weekly/monthly schedule will be worked out in concert between your child and their teacher.
Each child in the classroom has an individualized learning program. Before the school year begins, each child is assessed and his/her beginning work program is set up. During the year as the child masters new concepts and skills, presentations are given and new work taken on. In addition to working on the traditional school activities, children have a wide variety of learning activities to foster their growth and understanding.
The mixed age group in the classroom allows for:
- Confidence building - the child knows the teacher and class expectations.
- Boosting self-esteem for children who are in the program for more than one year.
- Each child has access to many “teachers,” not just the adults in the room to seek out help or guidance, but older children that know the material. This lets the older child truly understand the subject through "teaching" and gain more confidence and self-esteem through small group work.
- Easier transitions. Your child remains with the same teacher for two years so they have an easier time transitioning from grade to grade or year to year.
- Maximizes curriculum options available to your child. If you have an advanced 5-year old, your child is able to move through the curriculum at his/her own pace. They have peers their same age yet at the same time they can do more advanced academic work with older children. Independent and small group work challenges and engages the child.
- A high level of self-discipline and initiative.
- Work that is at the right level of difficultly for the child and subject matter. Many children work beyond grade level on some subjects and at grade level on others and the Montessori method allows for this.
Mathematics is presented in a scope and sequence prepared to match the developing abilities of the older child. Initially, the elementary child builds upon the vocabulary of math and the understanding of numeration, counting, size, and shape introduced in the primary classroom. Familiarity with the four basic operations — addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division — is expanded through the use of a progression of manipulatives. Through extensive practice, the maturing lower elementary student develops the ability to perform arithmetic abstractions independent of the materials.
Even the younger child experiments with air, water, electricity, etc., and reasons out the cause of each reaction himself thereby developing his intellect. Our purpose is to give the young child a clear impression of the physical environment, rather than inundate the child with scientific information that is difficult to interpret. A child goes home with his brain stimulated — his reasoning powers and his memory sharpened.
Second Language Immersion
You may elect to have your child study Mandarin or Spanish in our Elementary program. Your child will spend specific time in small groups with a native speaker to gain a working knowledge of your chosen language and basics of the culture. Many parents would like their children to have the advantages of bilingualism. The ability to understand and speak more than one language is not the only benefit of immersion education. This authentic communication allows students to learn a second language in a similar manner to the way that they have learned their first. Immersion programs have generally produced better second-language proficiency results than traditional foreign language teaching strategies. The intensive exposure to the target language is important because it allows the child to quickly reach second-language proficiency.
Montessori education uses a holistic approach to reading. The older classroom is a language rich environment in which literacy is developed through phonemic awareness, cultural studies, small reading groups, and the research process. Reading instruction takes place in small groups or on an independent basis. Strategies for comprehension are emphasized and imparted across the curriculum. It also includes reading, phonics, literature, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and writing. Writing development includes direct attention to the writing process and is practiced through journaling, research writing, and creative writing.
While being introduced to, and developing an appreciation for, the vast array of human differences the Cultural curriculum encompasses Biology, Botany, Zoology, Geography, History, Earth Science, Life and Physical Science, and Ecology. Through these subjects, the students begin to understand how the world is connected. Children also integrate these subjects with writing, language, and reading through reports on various subjects and public speaking opportunities.
The goals of the lower elementary art program are to foster visual awareness, aesthetic appreciation, creative expression, and imaginative thinking. Each child is encouraged to use his creative imagination through trial and error. From the beginning his work with Montessori sensorial materials helps refine his sense of color and other distinguishing characteristics of art. They learn the language of visual design (line, shape, color, etc.) to help them develop fluency of expression. Art is also an integral part of the academic program, with projects des`igned to enhance classroom studies. These activities help students connect their own art making to wider social and historical context.
Gardening nurtures each child's appreciation and understanding of the natural world by involving them in the processes of planning and maintaining a sustainable, ecologically-friendly garden. Further the child explores Botany and Zoology via hands on gardening techniques, observation, and composting. They will gain an understanding of the seasons through the cycles of planting, growing and harvesting of plants and learn the connection between farming and food, creating an awareness of where food comes from. Our gardening program is just one of many ways we connect with nature.
Music & Movement
In the Lower Elementary music class the primary focuses are singing, dancing and movement, listening, singing and rhythm games, percussion and improvisation. Simple rhythm instruments are used to accompany songs, experience ensemble playing, and develop rhythmic skills. To respond to music is a natural and basic tendency. Our children have ample opportunity to explore music whether by creating new tunes on the bells or by interpreting it with modern dance under the guidance of specially trained music and modern dance teachers.
The Physical Education program is guided by various components of physical fitness: speed, agility, strength, power, endurance, flexibility, and coordination. As fitness improves so does the level of skill development. For the older child these skills, include yoga, ball skills and manipulating a wide variety of small equipment.
Observe a Class
By observing a class you will get a feel for the environment and curriculum. Feel free to observe multiple classrooms to make sure you have the best fit possible for your child.
Goals of the Classroom
Our classrooms, which we call the prepared environment, will allow your child a great deal of independence within a defined structure.
Choosing the Right Class
Our teachers can offer invaluable guidance. We want your child to be happy and successful at Fountainhead, just as you do.
Is Montessori right for my child?
Observe a class and see if Fountainhead is the best placement for your family. By observing a class you will get a feel for the environment and curriculum. Feel free to observe multiple classrooms to make sure you have the best fit possible for your child.