grades 1, 2, 3 (ages 6-9)
A true Montessori Elementary program is unique. All of the subjects one would expect to be part of the curriculum are there, including language, math, and the sciences, but the environment, materials, and methods set Montessori apart from other educational models. A Montessori elementary classroom “looks” distinctive because of these differences. In the 6-9 Montessori curriculum, the students are presented with materials that are large in scope, open to discussion, and awe-inspiring. The lessons are often presented as stories. The work may involve demonstrations and experiments, and the underlying message is that everything in the universe is interrelated and has a purpose. This is Cosmic Education, one of the cornerstone tenets of Montessori education for the elementary student.
Cosmic Education tells the story of the universe, the history of the Earth, and the story of humans. These stories, told in a dramatic and illustrative way, make an impression on the child that encourages imagination and wonder. Children begin to study geography, geology, botany, and zoology in order to place these stories in the context of the natural world around them. The curriculum is academically challenging, but developmentally appropriate for the young child.
The “Great Lessons” are stories that are presented to the children in an Elementary program. They include “God with No Hands,” “The Story of Life,” “The Coming of Humans,” “The Story of Language,” and “The Story of Numbers.” This way of presenting history as a continuing creative event rather than a static, stale story of the past highlights the cosmic dimension of the 6-9 Montessori curriculums. The stories deliberately avoid the viewpoint of any single religious faith, as Dr. Montessori herself believed that education should be the path towards uniting humanity, not dividing it.
The cultural and academic subjects are connected and intertwined in the Elementary curriculum. Montessori asserts that the idea of the universe as presented in Cosmic Education provides a solid foundation for further learning. The study of language permits further exploration by reading and expression of one’s own impressions and experiences through writing. By studying math and geometry, the child gains a new appreciation for numbers and the astounding perfection of the universe.