Ages 6-12: First through Sixth Grade
Lower and Upper Elementary
The elementary program is divided into two levels:
Lower Elementary (ages 6-9) serves children from first through third grade.
— Click here for a full explanation of our lower elementary curriculum.
— To read the Educational Curricular Goals for Lower Elementary students, click here.
Upper Elementary (ages 9-12) serves children from fourth through sixth grade.
— Click here for a full explanation of our upper elementary curriculum.
— To read the Educational Curricular Goals for the Upper Elementary, click here.
— To view a presentation that summarizes the Upper Elementary experience, click here.
Just as in preschool, the child in a Montessori elementary classroom has the same teacher for three years. This trained professional is an “enlightened generalist”, with knowledge deep enough to know the fascinating details of each of the disciplines and broad enough to connect those details into a “big picture” across the disciplines. She is also fully trained in the principles of child development.
A teacher who has a child for three years gains an intimate knowledge of the child, which is seldom possible in a one-year classroom relationship. The teacher is keenly tuned in to the unique personality of each child. This sensitivity permits the teacher to “direct” each child into areas of natural interest. The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori has two lower elementary classrooms, each with a lead teacher and an assistant. In addition, a third fully-trained teacher supports both communities with lessons and program integration. (12:1 student-teacher ratio).
In the upper elementary program, two classrooms are guided in a team-teaching arrangement. One teacher provides all instruction in language arts and history; one teacher provides all instruction in math and science. Each classroom has a lead Montessori teacher and a full-time assistant teacher (12:1 student-teacher ratio).
In both the lower and upper elementary programs, the children work with specialists in the following areas:
— Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
— Physical Education
The Prepared Environment
The Montessori elementary environment balances the child’s developing imagination and powers of abstraction with down-to-earth, concrete, hands-on materials. Each material has its structured sequences designed to lead to discovery and understanding.
The elementary-aged child is moving from an understanding of the physical world to an understanding of abstract concepts. Montessori provides diverse and creative passages to abstraction. The prepared environment provides the “keys” of each discipline in a manner that meets the elementary child’s needs for inspiration as well as order. Materials in the academic disciplines (including mathematics, grammar, reading, writing, geometry, botany, zoology, and geography) enable the child to not only learn skills and concepts, but to experience the inherent beauty and order of each of these disciplines.
The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori Key Area: “A-Ha! in MathematicsThe Montessori elementary classroom has beautifully designed math materials that enable the child to progress easily from concrete to abstract concepts. Children learn concepts not just abstractly, but concretely “through their hands.” Many adults who experience the Montessori math materials have an “aha” experience of truly understanding mathematical concepts for the first time.
Strong Academics in a Meaningful Context
Montessori’s excellent learning materials and advanced curriculum ensure a solid mastery of basic skills. The Great Lessons provide the child with the opportunity to be an active learner who puts his skills to use as he pursues his desire for meaningful knowledge.
An Integrated Curriculum: Capturing the Imagination and Connecting the Disciplines
Research has shown that engaging the child’s imagination enhances the learning process. Research also indicates that a focus on grand, interconnected concepts facilitates learning. The learner uses a more natural form of memory and is able to generalize and apply his knowledge more readily. This research confirms why the Montessori approach has enabled elementary children to learn so well over the years.
In, the Montessori elementary class, an integrated curriculum activates the child’s imagination and immerses him in a grand vision of the universe. This is done through the Great Lessons.
The Great Lessons
The Great Lessons, a series of five stories told in the elementary years, present broad themes from natural and human history. These inspire the child and prompt him to ask questions: I wonder how many solar systems there are? I wonder what color the first ocean was? I wonder …
The Great Lessons are essentially stories: “The Story of the Universe;” “The Story of Life on Earth;” “The Story of Human Beings;” “The Story of Writing”, “The Story of Numbers” – within the context of these great themes, the child studies the details of the disciplines of science, mathematics, social studies, and language. The story provides the overview; the children then investigate the disciplines in detail. Because of the unifying thread of the Great Lessons, no subject is studied in isolation from the others. Knowledge is intertwined even though discrete in its parts.
The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori Key Area: Literacy
Our elementary program supplements the core Montessori language curriculum with high-quality programs that build solid literacy skills in our elementary students.
The Orton-Gillingham Method to teaching spelling and reading is a brilliant approach that frees children from the need to memorize spelling lists. Instead, it gives them the tools to logically analyze our language to make educated choices in spelling and decoding. Syllabication, vowel choices, suffix rules, and syllable types are all addressed in this comprehensive approach to spelling and reading.
Our writing program Excellence in Writing: Structure and Style begins in first grade and extends through middle school. Through systematic instruction and practice, children gain strong skills in the structure of writing clear paragraphs and cohesive reports; and they learn a variety of stylistic techniques that make their writing interesting and strong. Outlining, summarizing from notes, “fused outline reports,” creative writing, summaries, and critiques are all included in this comprehensive approach to writing instruction.
A Sense of Gratitude and Responsibility
The Great Lessons inspire a sense of gratitude in the child. God has provided innumerable gifts through the natural world, through the history of human civilizations, and through the history of salvation. Recognizing these, the child’s natural response is one of gratitude for all that we have inherited. At the same time, the child develops a sense that he, too, has a responsibility to contribute to the continuing stream of human progress. Thus Montessori elementary experience provides the foundations for life commitment through moral and social responsibility.
The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori Key Area: Elementary Vision StatementA comprehensive Vision Statement for our elementary program describes our approach to integrating the curriculum and building a sense of gratitude and responsibility, within a spiritual context, in our students. Please click here for our Elementary Vision Statement.
Going Out: Beyond the Prepared Environment
Because no classroom can contain the answers to all of the child’s questions, “going out” is a response to the need to explore beyond the classroom. The “going out” of Montessori elementary children is based on individual or small-group interest in extensions of classroom study: archery at Camp Kern, a visit to the Newtown fish hatchery to supplement fish study; a trip to the cathedral in Covington to see stained glass windows and church architecture as a supplement to a study of the Middle Ages; or a visit to the Ohio River locks to make current the study of river trade in ancient river civilizations. The experiences of learning from new resources and meeting different people present a glimpse of social cooperation and of the role of community services.
“Going out” can also be service projects such as visiting the elderly, cleaning up the environment, or holding a food drive for the hungry. These projects build the child’s sense of social purpose and moral responsibility.
The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori Key Area: Outings
In addition to individually planned trips that extend classroom studies to the local community, teachers plan outings with our students on our beautiful, rolling 14-acre site. For example, children studying Ohio history get a real-life experience in Ohio geology and local history by studying the rocks and features of an old limestone quarry on a hillside behind the school. In the 1800’s, local settlers mined limestone from this hillside to use in the foundations of their homes. Back in the classroom, the children continue to study the story that the quarry and the rocks reveal.
* Portions of this description of the Montessori curriculum are reprinted with permission from the booklet: “What is Montessori Elementary?” edited by David Kahn (North American Montessori Teachers Association).