Elementary Program

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Your  School Aged Child (6 to 12 years)

At this amazing stage of childhood, where motivation is intrinsic and curiosity drives learning and exploration, it is so important that children’s creativity and inquisitiveness is respected and encouraged. In our rapidly changing world, it is essential that education places value and emphasis on the development of critical thinking skills, collaborative learning, innovation and creative exploration as opposed to rote learning and memorization of facts. Montessori Elementary students love school. They love to learn, socialize, explore, research, plan and execute projects, engage with the community and the world at large in meaningful and purposeful ways. They are confident, bright young people who respect one another and the world around them. They pursue their passions, build upon their strengths, and strive to overcome challenges through perseverance and hard work.

The Elementary Years

Our Elementary Program

Forest Hill Montessori School’s Elementary Program builds upon the solid academic foundation established in the Primary Program. The classroom is a carefully prepared environment, designed to facilitate abstract learning for students in Grades 1 through 6. The curriculum endeavors to meet, and usually far exceeds, grade level requirements pursuant to the Ontario Curriculum. In addition, each student is encouraged to pursue areas of independent work and study. Students continue to experience the advantage of working together in a multi-age environment. The teacher guides the child’s intellectual growth with the aid of the Montessori materials, which are available to the students for their continued use. The curriculum is based on four key areas – Language, Math, Cultural Studies (Geography, History, Botany and Zoology) and the Arts.

Cosmic Education

The Montessori Elementary Program uses an approach to learning that is often referred to as ‘Cosmic Education’. This approach develops an awareness in the child that everything in the universe is connected and interdependent, forming a harmonious whole and that they are contributing parts to that whole. Cosmic Education really underpins the child’s knowledge and understanding of their environment and the world. At the beginning of the year, a series of ‘Great Lessons’ is told. Each story opens a strand of the curriculum and infuses it with the radiance of meaning so that nothing is dry or unrelated, but rather, everything shows the interconnectedness of the universe. These narratives, or Great Lessons, span the history of the universe from the origin of the solar system, earth and life forms to the emergence of human cultures and the rise of civilizations. Aided by impressionistic charts, timelines, and in some cases scientific experiments, the child’s study of detail in reference to the Great Lessons leads to awe and respect for the totality of knowledge.

Studies are integrated not only in terms of subject matter but in terms of moral learning as well, resulting in an appreciation and respect for life, moral empathy and a fundamental belief in progress, the contribution of the individual, the universality of the human condition and the meaning of true justice. There is an emphasis on research and in-depth study using primary and secondary sources as well as other materials. This involves the children’s planning their own trips to ”˜go out’ and make use of community resources beyond the four walls of the classroom.

Integrated Curriculum

The integrated curriculum is one of the Montessori Method’s great strengths. The curriculum ties together studies of the physical universe, the natural world and human experience. Each lesson builds on the previous one in a spiral of learning, with the curriculum building carefully over time. This method differs from the traditional model of education which often has compartmentalized subject areas where topics are sometimes covered only once at specific grade levels.

The Montessori Method allows for each subject area to complement one another and shows the child the inter-connectedness of all things. For example, the children may have a lesson on the Ancient Civilization of Greece. Based on that lesson, they may decide to research Greek Mythology and proceed to write their own Greek Myth in dramatic form, designing and preparing their own costumes and stage sets, composing musical accompaniment and sound effects, creating a program, selling tickets and finally presenting their play to an audience of peers, younger students and parents. This example illustrates how history, language, technology, math, commerce, art, music and drama integrate in one self-directed project.

Intrinsic Motivation

Inspiring intrinsic motivation in children is another goal of the Montessori Method. The aim is to motivate the child from within, working with his or her own interests. Freedom is recognized as the foundation of intrinsic motivation and the child’s choices and learning pace are respected. The Montessori classroom environment and its Montessori trained teacher play an important role in fostering intrinsic motivation by promoting the child’s freedom to choose from their interests and reinforces the responsibility to follow through, as well as the pride experienced when the child has completed what they set out to accomplish.

Character Education

At Forest Hill Montessori School, character education is considered an integral part of the Elementary Program – the foundation which was laid during their years in the Casa Program where Grace and Courtesy lessons taught them how to interact with one another in a respectful and courteous manner. Children learn very early the importance of listening, speaking politely, being considerate and helpful, and contributing to their community. The proper balance of freedom and discipline fosters moral traits of respect, independence, responsibility, and self-initiative. As the children progress to the Elementary level and the social dynamics become more complex in scope, continued role-playing, regular classroom meetings, and discussions play key roles in the development of character. Morals and virtues are defined, discussed, and practiced throughout the school year and true stories of heroes and role models throughout history are shared.

The freedom and responsibility children have in Montessori environments create real life opportunities for moral action. At any age and stage, differences between students may arise, providing opportunities to use social skills for understanding one’s self and others. Becoming involved in the larger community in the way of volunteerism and taking an active interest and involvement in social causes that are meaningful to them empower children and teach them that they can make a difference in the world.