Cosmic Education, or the Montessori approach, for children ages 6 to 12 came about . . . by following the psychological needs of the child. He is now insatiable for knowledge. He has a hungry mind."
— Mario Montessori (son of Maria Montessori)
Children at the elementary level want to know everything. They no longer learn about the world primarily through their senses, but through the use of a powerful intellect and imagination. In order to challenge the blossoming capacities of this age child, the six-year elementary curriculum includes studies in Biology, Botany, Zoology, Geology, History, Geometry, Mathematics, Art, Language, Music, Physical Science, and more.
Since much of the focus of the elementary classroom is on interrelationships, these subjects of study are not treated as separate entities, but connected parts of the same whole. Subject areas are integrated through the larger context of the entire cosmos - what we call "Cosmic Education." We begin each year with Five Great Lessons which explain through story, hands-on demonstrations, and illustrated charts, the beginning of the Universe, Planet Earth, Life, Language, and Mathematics. These Great Lessons set the stage for the expansive curriculum which follows. While specific lessons always carefully isolate one concept from one area, the children frequently explore several areas simultaneously. For example, an exercise in sentence analysis might incorporate facts about weather. Or a report on mountain formation might include an art lesson on landscape drawing.
The Montessori elementary classroom encourages creativity, curiosity, communication, cooperation, and concentration. Children work together or alone on projects of their own choice, guided by lessons from their teacher. The classroom extends into the community as children arrange their own "going-outs." The elementary Montessori classroom is an exciting and nurturing place to be.
Montessori education includes memorization and abstraction, but bases itself in fanning the flame of curiosity alive in a child's heart and mind.
Besides mastering all four operations of math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), elementary children learn fractions, decimal fractions, squaring, cubing, multiples, factors, square root, extracting square roots, cube root, extracting cube roots, and pre-algebra, as well as other topics relating to mathematics such as the history and writing of numbers. Through practice with hands-on materials, and by building on previous experience, the children eventually move from the sensorial to the abstract, coming to work their problems on paper, and often simply in their mind. Word problems are an important part of our math curriculum.
The language curriculum starts with the history of language both written and spoken and moves on into a study of other areas like parts of speech (the noun, verb, adjective), verb tenses, sentence structure, sentence analysis, prefixes and suffixes, literature, poetry, research, writing, grammar, oral reports, and more. Language is used throughout all areas of the classroom.
We begin with the history of early humans and continue through the development of early civilizations, both old and new world. We cover more modern history as well, including US history and the history of New Mexico. Children are introduced to overarching themes such as migration, the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, explorers, and so on. The children also pursue their own investigations into cultures and historical events of their choosing. Again, there is a strong emphasis on interrelationships, especially the interdependencies between peoples.
We study the sun and the earth and the results of the rotation and revolution of the earth and the tilt of its axis, including day and night, the seasons, air currents, and weather. We also study mountains and rivers, erosion and the composition of the earth. The children explore elements and states of matter through hands-on science experiments. Individual interest will dictate the direction of further in-depth study.
Study in this area covers congruence, similarity, and equivalence, lines, angles, plane figures, solids, Pythagorean and Euclidean theorems, volume, area, and how we derive the formulas for measuring these values, including the area of a circle, and pi.
This curriculum includes the study of both plants and animals. Again, the study occurs simultaneously with the pursuit of other subjects. We learn about the parts of a plant - leaf, flower, stem, root, seed, and fruit - and all the parts of those parts and their functions. We learn the categories of animals and the differences and similarities they have. We learn scientific classification. Our school garden provides wonderful practical experience in the world of biology and helps the children integrate their learning in this area.
Art and Music:
In music we learn the notes, the scale, the parts of the scale, sharps and flats, and kinds of scales. We learn about the treble and bass clefs and how to write the notes, read them, and play them. We identify different kinds of music by ear and learn to name it, for example, Baroque, Romantic, Blues, and so on. When they are ready some children write their own songs. Art is included in all the work we do, because children apply their art skills to other areas of study as they make their final reports, decorate their work journals, and create holiday decorations. We learn about line, shape, form, value, perspective, texture, color, composition, and more. We use different media like pencil, charcoal, paint, watercolor, clay, wire, and collage. Art projects tend to vary each year according to interest, using the elements and principles of art that the children have learned.
Guadalupe Montessori School does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national or ethnic origin in educational policies, hiring practices, or any school-administered programs.
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