Lower Elementary (1st-3rd grade)
As students move from Primary to Lower Elementary, they are entering an entirely new plane of development. The 6-9 child is becoming much more aware, and insightful about, the world they live in. They become more socially involved, and are very concerned with justice and fairness. While the 3-6 child focuses on the what and where of life, the 6-9 child is interested in why, how and when. The child's imagination is limitless, as he or she discovers the mysteries of the universe.
Academically, the new Lower Elementary student picks up where s/he left off in Primary. Because the curriculum is a continuum that builds over time, the teacher knows just where the student is with reading and math skills. The first materials that students work with in Lower Elementary are the same as they used in Primary, and that familiarity gives them confidence and comfort as they begin to explore their new class.
Curriculum areas include: Language Arts, Math, History, Social Studies, Geography, Geometry, and Science (including botany, zoology, geology, physics, chemistry, meteorology, etc.).
Upper Elementary (4th-6th grade)
In the Upper Elementary program at the Montessori School of McLean, we build upon and expand the understanding and skills our students acquired in the Lower Elementary and Primary classes as we prepare them for Middle and High School. The 9-12 child still has many of the attributes of the Lower Elementary child, including a need for independence, peer validation and a deep curiosity about why the world works the way it does. They are children with many questions and are internally motivated to find the answers. Our teachers are trained to guide and further develop that desire to learn, and to help each student find his or her own best way of attaining the goals they set for themselves. As their abilities to think abstractly and critically become sharper, providing them with the encouraging, academically challenging, positive environment they need to continue to grow and mature towards their potential remains our primary mission. While supporting our students in the "where they are right now", we are preparing them for the "whom they will become".
Dr. Montessori's Cosmic Curriculum, which she defined as "giving [the student] a vision of the whole universe" all the parts of which form "one whole unity," educates the whole child, meeting his/her needs in a way that is both appropriate and supportive of who the student is as a unique individual. Students continue to explore and learn the fundamentals of mathematics, geometry, pre-algebra, zoology, botany, writing, grammar, etc., but with a greater depth than they have been capable of before, and to analyze what they are learning to determine how they can put it to its best use. At this stage, new concepts are still taught using hands-on manipulative materials, in order for the students to clearly see the how and why of the concept. As they work with the materials, they begin to think about the concepts more abstractly. Much of our work is project based, with practical application of the skills the students learn in the curricular areas. Integrating what they learn and the skills they acquire is a fundamental goal, so students can develop a context for their learning, and begin to see their own way of using the knowledge they have worked so hard to acquire. Our objective is not just to encourage our students to be lifelong learners, but to continue their quest to understand the human condition, and to contribute positively and with a generosity of spirit to the world community, making the best use of the talents that are unique to each of them.