Montessori education differs from traditional education in the approach to curriculum. The developmental needs, personality, and interests of each child are as important as the content to be mastered. There is a mix of children ages 6-9 years old (grades 1-3) in each classroom. Lower Elementary children need a learning environment that is focused on their emerging social skills, provides hands-on learning, and strikes the imagination. The plentiful, sequenced Montessori learning materials and small group lessons allow teachers the opportunity to identify individual strengths and needs in order to mentor and coach appropriately. Montessori teachers engage their students in the learning process by teaching them how to organize and take ownership of their work, make choices, and pursue their interests. Text books are not used at the Lower Elementary level. However, the classrooms are filled with enticing learning materials and books that engage the children's active minds, support their growing skills, and ensure all curricula areas are covered.
There is no regularly assigned homework at the Lower Elementary level. Teachers encourage exposure to enriching activities, active play and plenty of rest at home as the best preparation for school success. The West Side Montessori curriculum is reviewed and updated regularly to ensure the school meets and exceeds State standards.
Quantity, numeral systems, math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), fractions, money, measurement, geometry and spatial sense, data analysis and probability, patterns, problem solving, functions, and algebra standards are included. Students build on their considerable experience with the decimal system in the Montessori early childhood program. Lower Elementary students use hands-on, sequenced learning materials. The mathematics materials lead the children toward abstraction of math operations and memorization of math facts. Children manipulate and read large numbers at an early age. They are drawn to the immense scope of mathematics. The measurement of time and study of geometry are closely tied to history and culture studies.
Language Arts and Reading Curriculum
The curriculum is divided into ten standards that match the Ohio English Language Arts curriculum including: phonemic awareness, word recognition and fluency, and vocabulary; the reading process including concepts of print, comprehension, monitoring, applications – informational, technical and persuasive text; writing - applications, conventions, research, and communication.
Building on their early childhood experience the phonics program engages students with words and object cards. Children read quality picture books and chapter books to practice fluency and comprehension. Students in 2nd and 3rd grades begin a formal spelling program.
The Montessori language arts curriculum emphasizes grammar and sentence construction at this early age when children are developing their reading and writing skills and have a keen interest in language. The hands-on Montessori grammar materials spark the interest of the children to discover how our language is constructed.
Children are drawn to reading because they realize at an early age that it is the key to researching their interests. Writing reports and sharing learning with other students through projects and oral presentations occur frequently in the Lower Elementary classrooms. Students record much of their work in journals so that reading, writing, and curriculum content are thoroughly integrated. Work sheets are minimal.
The Montessori culture curriculum encompasses history, social studies, geography, earth science, life science, physical science, botany, zoology, health and the human body. Children study the formation of the universe, the earth and its solar system, the evolution of plants and animals, and the development of civilization. Stories are used to ignite the child's imagination. Science experiments, the study of geology, history timelines, botany studies, and the animal kingdom all follow.
The perspective is respectful of all cultures and religious beliefs. Throughout history humans have had the need to explain their existence and have demonstrated the same need for food, shelter, safety, and an improved quality of life through the development of technology. Over time Montessori students develop an appreciation for the wide variety of life in our world and the need to cooperate in order to preserve and protect it.
Lower Elementary students choose either French or Spanish to study for the duration of their Montessori schooling. Classes meet twice a week in small groups. A variety of resources are used to teach the culture and language. West Side students gain proficiency in understanding and speaking a world language as they progress through each Lower Elementary grade level.
Art, music, physical education, and technology classes are included in each child’s weekly schedule and are taught by specialists in each area of the curriculum. Co-curricular specialists often work together to plan student performances.