With support and accountability from their teachers, students have flexibility to pursue topics that excite them while also advancing in all subjects. Students learn in mixed-age classrooms, combining grades 1-3, and then grades 4-5.
Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3)
As the youngest members of Lower Elementary, first graders are nurtured and mentored by the older students in the classroom. They rekindle relationships that they had during their time in Children’s House, and form new ones as they enter the social stage of development that is known as the elementary years. Students have become physically independent and now start the journey toward intellectual independence. Alongside Montessori materials, students manage folders and notebooks for each subject and start to track their work using checklists.
Second graders are right in the middle of their Lower Elementary experience. They find ways to manage each day, starting and completing work on their own. They begin to manage projects that have multiple parts and require some planning. Second graders develop an awareness of their abilities as compared to peers; they naturally seek out help and lend a hand to each other. Time and depth of studies increase as students seek the answers to their never ending curiosity.
Third graders are in their leadership year of lower elementary. This experience supports social-emotional growth as they navigate running community meetings, leading by example, and working toward consensus for classroom decisions. Weekly planners are used to manage both daily work and weeks-long projects associated with cultural work. This “capstone year” culminates with a deep dive into prehistoric life on Earth that challenges students to read to learn, apply research skills across multiple sources, and collaborate with peers.
Upper Elementary (Grades 4-5)
As the newest members of Upper Elementary, fourth graders step into a new environment that provides more freedom and more responsibility than lower elementary. Upper Elementary starts the last part of childhood. Students engage with each other more than with adults. Fourth graders begin to see adults as trusted advisors. Socially, students start searching for their identity and so the recognition and validation of individual differences is key. Real-world learning that appeals to multiple intelligences propels students into studies in a different way that in lower elementary.
Fifth graders are in their leadership year of upper elementary. This experience is unique to prior leadership years in that fifth graders are much more adept at expressing ideas verbally. It shows in their use of complex vocabulary, ability to explain multiple perspectives and increasingly expressive writing. Morality and justice become important in these late elementary years and students spend time problem solving and peacemaking within their classrooms and within the school community. Fifth grades are drawn to mentoring lower elementary and children’s house students, and their best selves come out when they can practice this kind of leadership.
Learn about our curricula and how students' knowledge and skills build over time. Note: The Montessori Culture curriculum blends history, geography, science, art, and music.