Monday, March 10, 2014
Around 6 years of age the child undergoes a transformation and enters an important plane of development, one characterized by a social and moral awareness and a reasoning, imaginative mind. The question he asks addresses his urge to be intellectually independent, "How do I think for myself?" The Elementary program is designed to meet these needs.
The school day is a balance of teacher-directed, small-group lessons, independent study, and team research. The elementary teacher presents the core curriculum of subjects such as: grammar, spelling, mathematics, science, geography and music. However, in keeping with the Montessori spirit, the children are free to follow their interests in choosing a topic for greater study. This could be either an independent or group endeavor resulting in a learned skill such as mastering a knitting or drawing technique, creating a written report on a historical figure or place, or giving a group presentation on a larger body of knowledge.
Children often work in small groups, as they are keenly interested in peer relationships and are learning not only how to work as a team but become individuals who can be relied upon. Although all members are equally responsible for collecting research the students would decide, for instance, who will study the heartís role in the circulatory system? Who will specialize in veins and arteries? Who will create the diagram for presentation? Learning as a group is not only memorable and engaging, but children understand that it is the individualís contribution that helps the team succeed.
One of the hallmarks of the Montessori Elementary program is the freedom to explore the wider community in "going out" work-related excursions, for instance, a "going out" to the library to gather books for more information on the planets in the Solar System, to the museum to see firsthand the work of an artist they are interested in, or to the zoo to interview a zoologist about an animal they are researching. The city offers a rich variety of opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. Children delight in referencing outside experiences for study as they plan, create, and execute their own "field trips".
Students are responsible for setting their own daily agenda and recording activities in a work journal as they learn time management skills. The teacher schedules weekly meetings to chart the individualís progress. Children present their journal, along with examples of independent work and discuss how their time was utilized during the week. Although grades are not assigned the expectation is that children always do their best. Assignments can be expanded upon or reworked until mastery and excellence is demonstrated.
Chicago Montessori accepts applications for toddler, primary and elementary. Montessori classroom experience is preferred, but not required.