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The Montessori Elementary Program
(Ages 6-9 and 9-12)

The elementary program offers a continuum built on the preschool experience. As in the pre-school, the Montessori materials are a means to an end. They are intended to evoke the imagination, to aid abstraction, to generate a world view about the human task and purpose. The child works within a philosophical system, asking questions about the origins of the universe, the nature of life, people and their differences, and so on. On a factual basis, interdisciplinary studies combine geological, biological, and anthropological science in the study of natural history and world ecology. The environment reflects a new stage of development and offers the following:


  • Integration of the arts, sciences, geography, history, and language that evokes the natural imagination and abstraction of the elementary child.

  • Presentation of knowledge as part of a large-scale narrative that reveals the origins of the earth, life, human communities, and modern history, always in the context of the wholeness of life. Presentation of the formal scientific language of zoology, botany, anthropology, geography, geology, etc., exposing the child to accurate, organized information and respecting the child’s intelligence and interests.

  • Connective narratives that provide an inspiring overview as the organizing, integrating “Great Lessons.” Great lessons span the history of the universe from the big bang theory of the origin of the solar system, earth, and life forms to the emergence of human cultures and the rise of civilization. Aided by impressionistic charts and timelines, the child’s study of detail in reference to the Great Lessons leads to awe and respect for the totality of knowledge.

  • The use of timelines, pictures, charts and other visual aids to provide linguistic and visual overview of the first principles of each discipline.

  • A mathematics curriculum presented with concrete materials that simultaneously reveal arithmetic, geometric, and algebraic correlations. This curriculum recognizes the child’s need for experience, for repetition, for various levels of concreteness, for going from concrete to symbol to abstraction. The emphasis is on making formulae and rules a point of arrival and discovery, not a point of departure.

  • An emphasis on creative writing, expository writing, interpretive reading of literature, research with primary sources, grammar and sentence analysis, spelling based on cultural studies and usage, and oral expression for both sharing research and dramatic productions.

  • Montessori trained adults who are “enlightened generalists” – teachers who are able to integrate the teaching of all subjects, not as isolated disciplines, but as part of a whole intellectual tradition.

  • Emphasis on open-ended research that is student generated and teacher guided. Students are encouraged to wonder, to carry out research, to experiment, to develop knowledge, make observations, to demonstrate skills. This in-depth study uses primary and secondary sources as well as other materials. Textbooks and worksheets, if present at all, are used by the children as reference materials, not as a basis for assigned or ongoing work.

  • “Going out” to make use of community resources beyond the four walls of the classroom.


Studies are integrated not only in terms of subject matter but in terms of moral learning as well, resulting in appreciation and respect for life, moral empathy, and a fundamental belief in progress, the contribution of the individual, the universality of the human condition, and the meaning of true justice.


Kahn, David, et al. The Whole-School Montessori Handbook: for Teachers and Administrators. NAMTA, 1999.


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