Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3)
The Elementary curriculum at Quest (grades 1-6) presents children with a full range of educational disciplines, including mathematics and language, as well as the arts, sciences and social sciences. The materials and exercises for each discipline area help children build a conceptual order, and classification materials associated with each discipline help children construct a mental order.
The Montessori elementary core curriculum has three major elements:
- An integrated curriculum using Montessori’s Five Great Lessons
- Mastery of fundamental skills and basic core knowledge
- Individually chosen research
1. Integrated curriculum
The elementary-aged child is full of awe and wonder about the world in which he lives. The Montessori elementary program inspires a love of learning by going beyond the usual goals of skill development and addressing the development of the whole person. Children who complete our program have a clear understanding of the natural world, of human knowledge, and of themselves.
The elementary curriculum uses Montessori’s Five Great Lessons as its major themes. The Five Great Lessons move logically in sequence from the beginning of time through modern day. These overarching themes include: The Story of the Universe, The Timeline of Life, The Story of Language, The Story of Numbers, and The Timeline of Civilization.
Because of its logical sequence, Montessori elementary education demonstrates how each particle, each substance, each species, and each event in the universe did not just “happen”: everything has a purpose and a contribution to make in the development of our universe. With this philosophy in mind at Quest, we want the child to feel a sense of interconnectedness and gratitude about the world in which he lives. It is this understanding which leads to an intrinsic love of learning and contribution.
Rather than following the traditional approach of presenting facts as belonging to individual subjects, we use the Great Lessons to present a holistic vision of knowledge, building the subject skills into each topic or theme. Reading, writing, geography, science and history are all studied in terms of these larger, cultural contexts. We take the children from the whole to the parts and back to the whole again.
Learning to read is a major focus of the Lower Elementary program; reading and writing skills are developed in every area of the curriculum.
2. Mastery of basic skills: the Montessori materials and beyond
The Montessori mathematics materials and manipulatives are widely acclaimed and used worldwide in both public and independent schools. In the Lower Elementary program, these materials are used to provide the child with concrete visualizations of the four basic operations, algebraic concepts, and an introduction to fractions and geometry. The use of these materials in small group lessons allows each child to progress at his or her own pace.
Hands-on materials are used in every other aspect of the curriculum as well. There are materials for the study of language and grammar, scientific classification, geography, and much more.
As the ability to think abstractly matures in the Upper Elementary years, the sequence of lessons lead more and more into work on paper and into research projects. The Montessori materials then become tools which the children can use to reinforce earlier work, or to creatively explore an advanced extension of an earlier study. (For example, the material that younger children use to learn the basics of arithmetic are reinterpreted to learn algebra.)
3. Individually chosen research
Elementary students are encouraged to explore topics that capture their imagination. As the mind, will, and self-discipline develop, it becomes possible for the children to undertake ambitious projects requiring the integration of knowledge from across the curriculum. Students often work together, using well- developed collaboration skills. When children progress into Upper Elementary, the teacher becomes more and more a consultant to the children, helping them to organize their research and find resources for multi-faceted projects.
Lower Elementary Topics and Skills (Grades 1-3)
The following skills are developed in the Lower Elementary curriculum:
- Learning to Read
Sound/symbol relationships (phonetic reading), sight words and contextual clues (reading fluency), reading comprehension, vocabulary/spelling, introduction to research and reference materials
- Language Skills
Word study, parts of speech, parts of the sentence
- Communications Skills
Listening, storytelling, shared literature, oral presentations
- Writing Skills
Handwriting (print and cursive), fiction and non-fiction writing, the writing process (drafting, revising, editing, publishing)
Numerical quantities, numerical symbols, place value, even/odd, concept of zero, rounding
Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division concepts and operations, memorization of math facts, exploration of numerical patterns
Concept of fractions, naming/vocabulary, equivalence study, operations with like denominators, intro to mixed numbers
Linear (standard and metric), time (analog, calendar), money (value, adding, subtracting), temperature, weight
Hands-on exploration of shapes (lines, angles, plane figures), congruency, similarity, equivalence
- Problem Solving
Word problems and critical thinking problems, estimating, graphing (bar, line), patterns and relationships, games
Time (calendars, clocks, timelines), creation myths, evolution, pre- history
The Big Bang theory, origins of the universe, three states of matter, energy, laws of attraction and gravity, sun and solar system concepts, the Five Kingdoms of Life, external and internal parts/body functions of plants and animals, classification and nomenclature
Continents, land and water forms, countries, capitals, flags, map skills