The Elementary Years

Elementary children, six to twelve years old, are developing their understanding of concepts, and their ability to think and reason, in the abstract.  Consequently, all the materials in a Montessori Elementary environment follow through a continuum towards complete abstraction by the end of the of a child’s sixth year.   Another characteristic of the Second Plane of Development, the Elementary Age, is the development of the social self.  For this reason, Elementary students are increasingly drawn to working cooperatively and collaboratively, in small groups, on large projects.  Montessori education does not follow the traditional school concept of grades and years of learning.  Instead, we follow three-year cycles, in which children are introduced to concepts, reinforce skills and knowledge through practice and application, and then connect to increasingly complex skills and ways of knowing.  All skills and knowledge development in the Elementary environment are based on a mastery approach, where readiness for new lessons is determined through the mastery of prerequisite lessons.  It is common for children to become interested in a particular subject or area over all others in a particular year, and the child can complete all the work of a three-year cycle in that subject.  During Lower Elementary (Years 1 to 3), the considerations of the academic and social continuum of development result in the following general expectations for learning: 

Year 1 begins as a continuation of the Casa experience, and the discovery focus when working with materials, gradually transforms to making larger connections through analysis of materials.  Students typically work to mastery of the following understandings:

  • Language:  English phonogram rules in reading, focusing on accuracy and fluency; correct formation and sizing of print and cursive letters; beginning spelling exercises with list featuring 60 different English phonograms;  word study introduction to compounds, suffixes, and prefixes; rules of English language mechanics for capitalization, period use, question marks, exclamation marks; identification of the nine basic parts of speech in grammar; writing complete sentences to convey stories and ideas.
  • Mathematics:  Math facts and operations to thousands, with exchanges, in addition, multiplication, subtraction and division; introduction to fractions and fractions equivalency; skip counting by 2, 3, 5, 10 to 1000; introduction to place value and addition to the millions; nomenclature of Canadian currency and counting coins; nomenclature and analysis of sides and angles of regular plane figures.
  • Culture:  Key lessons within the Five Great Lessons; introduction to biomes; introduction to the scientific method; use of microscopes; names of countries on each continent; flags of countries; beginning research on space, animals.

Students in Year 2 continue the work in every subject where they left off:

  • Language:  Reading comprehension activities; introduction to keyboarding; continuation of spelling program, spelling of sight words; word study of antonyms, synonyms, homophones, homonyms, homographs; rules of English language mechanics for apostrophes, commas and quotation marks; beginning activities in grammar boxes and sentence analysis; research skills of classification and dictionary usage; writing paragraphs.
  • Mathematics:  Operations to the millions, with exchanges in addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division; four operations with fractions with like denominators; introduction to decimal fractions; skip counting by 4 and 9; word problems; introduction to double-digit multiplication; Roman numerals; introduction to line studies in geometry.
  • Culture:  Key lessons within the Five Great Lessons; independent study of subject in Earth science, chemistry and physics; research on areas of interest (typically animals, dinosaurs, technology)

The Year 3 student continues:

  • Language:  Comprehension activities; keyboarding and word processing for writing projects; spelling activities based on Greek and Latin root words; word study of idioms and clichés; grammar boxes and sentence analysis; writing multi-paragraph projects.
  • Mathematics:  Multi-digit multipliers and divisors; integers and linear algebra; squaring and square roots; four operations with fractions with unlike denominators; four operations in decimal fractions; skip counting by 7 and 8; word problems; line and angle studies in geometry.
  • Culture:  Key lessons within the Five Great Lessons; continued independent study; design of big projects and experiments; research on areas of interest (biographies, technology, sports)