The Lower Elementary Program, for students aged six to nine years, is based on key Montessori principles: multi-age grouping, concrete lessons, and individual pacing. This is a time for extending and perfecting the skills already begun at the Preschool level.
The mixed-age elementary classroom creates a community in which the child lives and learns. Children develop the social skills necessary to handle increasingly challenging interactions with their peers. They learn that following is equally as important as leading and develop a confidence that forms the foundation of future leadership skills.
Learning takes place individually (through the child’s work plan) and cooperatively in small groups. The Lower Elementary Program emphasizes the connection between different areas of study, not the mere presentation of isolated facts. Reading, math, geometry, and science all bring the student to a new understanding expressed through writing. The presentation of history, biology, and geography all give meaning to the great order of the universe. Students are also engaged in enrichment classes in Spanish, Mandarin, music, art, computer technology, and physical education.
Elements of Westwood Lower Elementary Classrooms
Westwood uses SRA reading labs for individual reading and vocabulary, Reader’s Theater for group reading aloud, Great Books discussions, and silent reading with journaling. Montessori materials enhance the teaching of writing and grammar concepts.
- Creative writing is developed individually and in small groups. Westwood recognizes the importance of handwriting to a student’s control of focus and attention.
- In addition to the Montessori math and geometry curriculum, Westwood works with students to acquire speed and accuracy in math fact retrieval through the use of math games and timed tests.
- The cultural areas of the Lower Elementary feature geography, history, science and other information to broaden the child’s grasp of the interconnectedness of life. This includes simple and classified nomenclatures for biology, earth science, geology, Fundamental Needs of Man, and Timelines of Life. Additional group classes in history target specific periods for study.
- Homework begins at this level. Each week students memorize a poem and complete spelling homework. Additionally, periodic assignments in reading and three-dimensional history projects are required.
- Lower Elementary children love to work in the garden. They want to know the names of all the plants and take particular joy in weeding! Through their work outdoors and their interaction with the animals available in each classroom, these students come to respect the natural rhythms of nature. They take further steps down the road of environmental stewardship.
- This is the age at which students gain from field trips outside the school environment. “Going out” into the local community helps children place themselves in the larger world. Students love to see real-life activities as well as participate in the fine arts. Visitors to the classroom also bring further enrichment by highlighting thematic units of study.