Elementary I & II

Welcome to Swan River Montessori’s Elementary Program (Ages 6-12)

The SRMCS Elementary Program offers a unique and unparalleled opportunity for the ongoing development of your child. Based on the research of Dr. Maria Montessori, the child at this stage is imaginative, social and creative and thus requires a planned environment and extensive curriculum to support their escalating independence and potential. Swan River’s elementary program is designed to support and enhance not only the knowledge and skills of each child, but also help shape a positive attitude about learning for the rest of the child’s life. Each classroom is designed for 24 students with two adults, a licensed, Montessori-trained lead teacher and a classroom assistant.

Curriculum: Elementary 1 (Ages 6-9)

Designed specifically around the broad interests of the elementary-aged child, the six to nine year old program offers an exciting, integrated curriculum that is both sequential and cumulative. Mathematics and language are the two core subjects that are integrated throughout the entire program with all subject areas presented in complement to each other. Geography, zoology, botany, cultural studies and the Great Lessons involving the TIme Line of Life are presented with the goal of stirring the imagination as they unveil the concept of order in the universe. The program goals are to develop within the child a sense of self worth, respect for others, and the quest and appreciation for knowledge.

Curriculum: Elementary 2 (Ages 9-12)

Building directly on the Elementary 1 program’s curriculum and philosophy, the nine to twelve year old classrooms extend academic and social concepts to higher levels of abstraction and sophistication. Children enjoy working on square roots, beginning algebraic concepts, and plane and solid geometry. Word functions, sentence diagramming, and clause and phrase analysis are just some of the lessons presented integrating the whole language approach. Reading novels and participating in literature discussion circles supports the love of language and the written word. Early humans and great civilizations are a continuation of the Time Line studies. Book reports, research projects and performance opportunities also enrich the curriculum in the Elementary 2 environment.

Traits of a montessori elementary classroom.

Montessori elementary classrooms are built on the foundations of the Children’s House Classrooms. When your six year old comes into the elementary classroom from the Children’s House (ages 3-6), he will find many similarities. Not only is this new classroom equally as beautiful and thoughtfully prepared, but many of the same materials will be found on the shelves. Your child will use these materials in new ways suited to expanding his mind and to make his own discoveries in language, math, and science.

The elementary curriculum is only limited by a child’s imagination.

The goal of a traditional curriculum is to delineate what a child is supposed to learn. As Montessorians, we want your child to be able to learn everything. The starting point for all courses of study are the Great Lessons. These scientific stories are presented every year and give students the “big picture” of cosmology, astronomy, earth science, geography, chemistry, physics, biology, history, cultural studies, language, math, and art. Subsequent lessons offer the children keys for exploring these areas of human knowledge in more detail. As in Children’s House, the lessons are starting points for your child’s own activity. Meaningful learning happens when children are inspired by a lesson and begin to explore the subject and work on their own.

Children work collaboratively and cooperatively.

In the Children’s House classroom, your child was best able to concentrate when working parallel to his peers, each with her own activity. Elementary children, however, are at a different stage of development and have a strong drive to be social and to collaborate. For this reason, most of the lessons and follow-up projects in elementary are done in pairs or groups of children. Each day, your child will practice the social skills necessary to plan and carry out his projects: delegation and division of labor, sharing resources, making group decisions, taking responsibility for actions, and celebrating the success of peers. Conflict is not uncommon, but the motivation to resolve it comes from the children and their engagement with their projects. The Montessori teacher models and supports constructive and respectful problem solving. Learning how to work well with the different personalities and characteristics of other children in the classroom community is a significant life lesson with practical applications in the “real world” of high school, college and the professional workplace of the future.

The classroom is designed to nurture imagination and reason.

Elementary age students are naturally curious and have a strong internal drive to discover how our world works. They may ask, “How does a fish breathe under water?” “What number comes after a trillion?” “What causes a volcano to erupt?” Instead of simply giving them the correct answers, Montessori elementary teachers ask the right questions; they tell stories to inspire the children’s imagination and tantalize them to explore on their own to find out more. Driven by their passions, the children are open to the input from the teacher that refines their reading, writing, reasoning, and research skills. Designing our elementary program around the children’s natural cognitive abilities means that our focus is less on the facts and concepts we teach and more on what the children learn and how they learn it.

The children’s work is open-ended and creative. Each child’s response to a lesson is unique, and their follow up work reflects those individual differences. Your child is free to form or join a group to work with the concepts introduced in a lesson. For example, a group of children might have a lesson on the parts of a river. Some might choose to label an outline map with the rivers of North America. Others might choose to repeat the demonstration with the river model (and without the teacher), labeling for themselves the parts previously demonstrated. Another pair might be intrigued by a particular river mentioned in the lesson or by the river running through their city, and they might launch a research project about the Mississippi. Because the children are free to move around the classroom and see what others are doing, it’s not uncommon for an idea to spread; children are stimulated not just by the teacher’s lessons, but by each other.

Children are agents in their own education.

Children in Montessori have significantly more input into how they are taught, and control over how they learn, than children in traditional school settings. Their natural learning styles and preferences are respected and supported. The multi-age format of the classroom prevents comparison of children; differences in ability and achievement are expected. Lessons are presented in small groups to the children who are ready for them, regardless of their age. There is no social disadvantage to being bright, interested, and motivated at school. Likewise, there is no stigma for reviewing or repeating lessons to gain mastery. Your child is free to continue to work with a material or concept as long as necessary, or to move on when he is ready for a new challenge. In Montessori, all children get straight “A’s” because they only move on when they really understand a concept.

The children explore their own interests while meeting age-appropriate standards.

Montessori elementary students study both broadly and deeply, covering many subjects not attempted in traditional schools. The children often develop expertise in a subject that is especially interesting to them. Because there is not a rigid schedule or prescribed curriculum that the whole class must follow, your child can focus intensely on her self-chosen work, with minimal interruption. At the same time, she will collaborate with the teacher to ensure that the basic skills for each grade are mastered. A version of the public school standards is available to the class, and the teacher facilitates your child’s use of these standards as a guide to her work choices.

Assessments in the Montessori environment

SRMCS education emphasizes a holistic approach to learning, focusing on a child’s individual growth and development. In this context, both formative and summative assessments play significant roles in evaluating a student’s progress.

Formative Assessment: SRMCS formative assessments are continuous, ongoing evaluations designed to observe a child’s learning process in real-time. They are often informal and occur naturally during daily activities. Teachers keenly observe a child’s interactions with Montessori materials, their social skills, and their ability to concentrate. These assessments provide valuable insights, enabling educators to tailor their teaching methods according to individual needs. Through formative assessment, teachers can identify a child’s strengths and areas requiring additional support, fostering a personalized learning experience.

Summative Assessment: Summative assessments in SRMCS education occur at specific intervals to evaluate a child’s overall progress over a period. These assessments are more structured and aim to measure the knowledge and skills acquired by the student. However, SRMCS summative assessments are often less conventional than those in traditional education. They focus on a child’s understanding, creativity, and ability to apply knowledge rather than mere memorization. Summative assessments in Montessori classrooms celebrate a child’s unique abilities and progress, reinforcing the importance of individual growth over comparison with peers.

Self Assessment : Montessori self-assessments empower children with the ability to reflect on their own learning journeys. In Montessori classrooms, students are encouraged to assess their progress independently, fostering self-awareness and accountability. Through interactions with carefully designed materials, children develop a deep understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement. This introspective process not only enhances their academic abilities but also cultivates essential life skills such as self-discipline, time management, and goal-setting. Montessori self-assessments promote a lifelong love for learning by instilling a sense of ownership and pride in one’s accomplishments, nurturing confident, self-motivated learners who actively engage in their education.

Participation in the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA’s) is required for all Public Schools in the State.  These assessments are taken online and are a series of multiple-choice items intended to measure students’ progress toward meeting Minnesota’s academic standards.

Montessori elementary children transition well into other schools.

At the end of the Montessori elementary program, your 12 year old is ready for a very important transition: becoming an adolescent. His elementary years have given him the freedom to develop as a unique individual. He has experienced the challenges and rewards of working with a group of other children of different ages and has seen his skills and talents put to use in many group projects. He has developed proficiency in all areas of academic endeavors and looks forward to the new opportunities beyond Montessori elementary. He loves and trusts the adults with whom he works. Above all, he is flexible and adaptable.

These skills, the culmination of the six year Montessori elementary program, will help him to easily assimilate into new academic and social situations in high school, college and beyond.