In contrast to a single grade-level classroom where a child has one year to cover certain learning objectives, the Montessori mixed-age elementary classroom provides flexibility over several years, enabling students to work at their own pace towards subject mastery.
Learning is based on the use of concrete materials and an active process, moving toward abstraction and skill mastery. Students develop an academic plan with their teacher and choose how they will meet their goals. Learning materials are on open shelves accessible to all students. Teachers work with students individually, in small groups and in whole class activities.
Language – The classroom is a language-rich environment that includes reading, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting. In the mixed-age classroom, emergent readers are found working students reading above their age-level. Students are read to daily and are exposed to a wide range of literature.
Mathematics– The hands-on approach to mathematics with learning materials makes concepts visible and clear. Lessons build upon one another with a student working toward mastery through practice. Building upon one another, students advance through the concepts of math operations and geometry with increasing understanding and abstraction.
Science– Concepts of science come alive through hands-on learning materials and experiments. Students work with materials such as timelines, models of the solar system, the periodic table of the elements and models of atoms.
Computers skills – Computers are an integrated part of the classroom as a learning tool and information resource. Students practice keyboard skills, reading, and develop their online research skills.
Interaction – Lower Elementary students are growing and developing physically and socially. They are concerned about social relationships, thoughts, feelings, and are beginning to develop a keen sense of justice. Teachers aid students by providing support with understanding and interacting with others, expressing feelings, respecting themselves and others, working within groups and learning from their mistakes.
Physical activity -Healthy physical activity is vital to the student’s development. Movement is allowed in the classroom to facilitate learning. Daily outdoor time and organized physical education are part of the program.
Field trips – To promote understanding of the world, students go on field trips throughout the year. They may attend a play or musical performance, visit a museum, tour a farm or do other activities related to their studies.