Blog posts tagged in Elementary
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Montessori education is unique, untraditional, and gaining popularity across not only the state of Utah but the entire country.  During parent interviews we often ask parents "What are your hopes and dreams for your child?" and the following is among the list of heartfelt responses that we often receive:

  • To develop leadership skills
  • To develop self-discipline
  • To develop a sense of personal responsibility
  • To develop independence
  • To develop initiative
  • To discover their passions
  • To develop a lifetime love of learing
  • To build a strong academic foundation

Classrooms at Montessori Community School offer all that and more as we strive to follow each individual child, carefully prepare an environment that supports each of these goals, and work as a community in the best interest of each individual.  

 

 

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Based on our ecosystem outings this year, the GO (Great Outdoors) students have spent a lot of time researching different ecosystems of their choice. These nature cards are the result of their hard work, time, knowledge, and talents.

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Each card features a drawing of a particular ecosystem, and inside the cards are some interesting facts derived from their studies.

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This is a great opportunity to support the students' studies, interests, and art. It is also a great way to share these talents throughout the year with your friends, family, and co-workers. You may purchase these beautiful cards for $3.00 each or you may purchase 5 cards for $12.00. Cards will go on sale in the MCS lobby this Friday, May 1st.  

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"Eventually we gave up either punishing or rewarding the children."
—Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

It's a new year and many of us make resolutions. As parents, in spite of our best intentions, we sometimes get stuck in patterns that are no longer working or may not be the most beneficial for our children. What are some new ways to deal with the normal day-to-day challenges of being a parent?

Re-Thinking Some Common Practices

No one is really taught how to parent. We do what our parents did, or the direct opposite. Some practices enter the mainstream and are implemented by parents without much thought.

How often do you use the phrase "Good job"? Do you use a "time-out" when your child is challenging your patience? Changing some of these rote responses can make a huge difference for children and parents alike. We can communicate to children in ways that help them feel more secure and independent.

Unearned and Unnecessary Praise

The "good job" comment which seems to roll off the tongues of parents, teachers, and by-standers is said with good intentions, but gives very little acknowledgement of what went into accomplishing the "job." Similar to every child getting a trophy whether the team wins or loses, this empty praise may discourage children from trying new activities at which they might fail. They also may get an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement.

The adult becomes the judge, and motivation becomes external rather than internal. This "conditional parenting" teaches children to behave in a certain way in order to be loved. It becomes another method of control, just like punishment.

It's more meaningful to have adults understand a child's feelings and communicate appreciation of the effort and natural hard work involved in learning. Practice, trial and error, and persistence in the face of failure help your child's brain develop.

Alternatives to false praise:

  • Talk about specifics: "That picture has so much red color." "You tried really hard to make that goal in soccer."
  • Solicit the child's thoughts and feelings: "What did you do when you spilled the tray of food?" "How did you feel when you missed the goal?"
  • Encourage persistence and hard work: "You sounded out that word all by yourself."

Punishment or Setting Limits

In The Discovery of the Child Maria Montessori says, "To tell a child: 'Stand still like me!' does not enlighten him." She explains that such a demand is both physically and mentally impossible for a "still growing individual." What may appear obvious and understandable for adults is not always true for a child.

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Some time ago, as a reasonable option to corporal or demeaning punishments, the "time-out" method became the discipline of choice. This prevalent form of discipline makes a child experience a feeling of rejection and learn that love will be withdrawn if she does not conform to our wishes.

Misbehaving is often a call for help or some added adult encouragement and understanding. Helping your child verbalize feelings often is enough for her to continue to problem solve. Sometimes physical holding is necessary to stop a tantrum and help a child learn to self-soothe.

Discipline is about teaching, not punishing. Rather than exclude a child, we want to encourage the development of empathy and insight. We want to set clear limits while helping empower children to understand and collaborate with us so that respect flows in both directions.

Changing Time-Out to Time-In

We want to convey love and respect, letting children know it is the behavior we want to change, not the child. "Time-in" means we know where the child is developmentally and can intervene before the child seriously misbehaves. If you stay calm and spend "time-in" with your child, both of you will feel more secure and in control.

These ideas may help:

  • Anticipate and prepare for challenging situations. Have appropriate expectations for your child's behavior based on his age and abilities. Be willing to adjust your plans accordingly.
  • Take games or quiet activities for those wiggly waiting times in the doctor's office, a restaurant, or on the airplane.
  • Support your child by explaining the reasons for requests. Make clear brief explanations appropriate to the child's age.
  • Spend 5 to 10 minutes with a young child when you notice frustration developing. Change the activity or just assist in making it easier to handle.

Look to the Child

What are reasonable expectations? Psychologist Madeline Levine reminds us that "the happiest, most successful children have parents who do not do for them what they are capable of doing." This leads to independence and a strong sense of self-esteem. We need to stand back while they figure out things on their own. We as parents can give up judging ourselves when our children don't live up to our expectations. We can instill positive values and encourage persistence while watching our children learn from the normal challenges in life.

"No one who has ever done anything really great or successful has ever done it simply because he was attracted by what we call a 'reward' or by the fear of what we call a 'punishment.'"
—Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

 

by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services. She is a trained primary Montessori directress and also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has taught children aged 2 to 7 years in Montessori schools, Headstart, and also in a preschool for children with developmental challenges. In her counseling practice, she helps individuals, couples, and families.

http://montessoriservices.addr2.com/view/350390d/702cd6/

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MCS Lower Elementary students, 1st - 3rd Grade, created art pieces for the University of Utah's Eccles Institute of Human Genetics Building. The showing is on the 3rd floor atrium of the building. This building houses the Department of Human Genetics, Molecular Medicine, USTAR,  [2007 Nobel prize winner Dr. Mario Capecchi], and many other researchers.  
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Amy Fought, our Lower Elementary Art Teacher explains, "At Montessori Community School we have enjoyed exploring paint and color with our creative art installations of 'Shapes and Silhouettes.'  Working in groups of two or three, students got together to practice the style of Wassily Kandinsky, famous for his abstract art. "
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"We spent time emulating a few of Kandinsky’s famous pieces that focused on repetitions of circles. Although art often focuses on the foreground, or “positive space,” we chose to bring to life our background, or “negative space,” by choosing bright and colorful shapes to paint, as Kandinsky did."
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"The students were given only the primary colors (magenta, yellow, and blue) to begin with, and they created their own beautiful variations of colors to create layers upon layers of their shapes.  They then overlaid their work with a tree silhouette of their choosing, drawing and cutting a simple picture that would not detract from the beauty of their background.  The result was a beautiful set of pieces that shows the ingenuity and creativity of young minds."
 
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Welcome Back!  School is officially in session. We are looking forward to our new students joining us tomorrow.  But, saying goodbye can be hard.  As excited as we all might be about school it can be difficult to say goodbye.  Separation anxiety is a normal part of the routine and we would like to offer some tips that might be helpful...
 
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  1. Prepare  your child.  Be sure to help them understand what they can expect.  Talk about how the routine will go... "We will walk to your cubby first and put your things away.  Then, I will remind you where to find the bathroom and then I'll take you to the door of your classroom.  Your teacher will meet us there and we will give one hug, one kiss and one high five and then I will leave."
  2. Don't be surprised if your child is having a difficult time even if they are returning to the same classroom, with the same teachers, and the same peers.  
  3. Stick to your routine!  A change in routine can make separation anxiety even more intense for a child.  If you say you are going to give one hug, one kiss and one high five, DO IT!  Drawing out the goodbye not only makes it hard but also hinders your child's ability to develop confidence that you are both really expected to do what you say.
  4. Refrain from entering the classroom.  We try to give our students the first 6 weeks to make the environment "theirs" and develop a routine before inviting parents inside.  If you have questions about how or what your child is doing be sure to ask their teacher at the end of the day.  Or, feel free to call our office and we will check in on your child.  But, trust your child that they can develop the skills to make it through their school day.
  5. Stay calm and let your child know you trust them.  Although you might be concerned that your child is going to have a hard transition, be sure to express your confidence in them.  If you aren't comfortable leaving campus until you know they are doing okay, you are welcome to hang out in our lobby and our staff will check on your child.  Or, give us a call on the phone and we will be happy to check.  
  6. Keep it short. Avoid lingering...this can cause further distress. Rest assured that if your child is unable to settle or remains distraught, we will call you.  It is important to us that your child feels this is a safe and peaceful place.  If they need a shorter day here in order to build that confidence, we will support them.
  7. Give it time.  It can take up to 6 weeks for children to "normalize."  If you have concerns that it is taking your child too long to adjust, be sure to speak with the teachers. They might have some good ideas to help you both.  
  8. Return on time.  It can be difficult for children to build trust if their parent and/or teacher tell them that mommy or daddy will "be here soon" and you are not.  If you are going to be late, give us a call so we can prepare your child.  Unexpected events occur and we are happy to support you and your child so call our office if you are running late. 
  9. Show your child that you trust the teachers.  If they feel that you lack confidence in the teachers or the school, they will also lack confidence.  Again, if you have concerns about your child's care, please speak with the teachers or administration.  
  10. Ask your child about their day. Let them express frustrations but also ask specific questions that might lead them to remember the good parts of their day.  "Did you play in the sandbox today?"  "Did your teacher read any stories today?  What was the story about?" 
  11. Most importantly - be consistent!
We are so happy that you have entrusted us with your precious children.  We look forward to a wonderful year and invite you to let us know in person, over the phone, or via email if you have any questions or concerns about your child's transitions.  
 
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A happy welcome to the new families entering Montessori Community School.  Parents, you will soon discover that being a part of a Montessori community is encompassing and the efforts you make towards supporting the Montessori approach will determine the success your child has in this environment. Below is an article by Edward Fidellow which will give you several tips to embracing your new role as a "Montessori Parent."

And so begins your journey......

Becoming a Montessori Parent by Edward Fidellow

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There are seven simple steps to becoming a Montessori parent. When we say simple we don’t mean that they are not challenging. It is a lot like the definition of bull riding. “The object is to keep the bull between you and the ground.” Simple – but challenging.

The first step to becoming a Montessori parent took place when you enrolled your child in a Montessori program. That in itself is a challenge. Most of us weren’t raised in a Montessori school. The whole concept is foreign and takes a bit of courage to step out of the norm and our comfort zone. We may have chosen the program because it wasn’t like our school experience (which is why we chose it.) Or we chose it because we saw something unique in a Montessori child we knew. Or we were just plain lucky and stumbled on to a Montessori school and were fascinated by what we saw. Even then we had to deal with the question, “If this is so great, how come the whole world isn’t lined up outside the door to enroll?” (Which is the same question Montessorians keep wondering about too!) But you made a complex and challenging decision to become a Montessori parent. And here you are. So how do you get the best out of your decision? You go to step two.

You begin to understand the core philosophy of what Montessori is all about. Fortunately, you don’t have to become a Montessori teacher to be a good Montessori parent. (You don’t have to know how to manipulate all of those materials and you don’t have to keep fifteen children from climbing the walls.) The most significant Montessori concept is to respect the child. I can almost hear the wheels turning “Of course I respect my child, I love them very much that’s why I have them in Montessori, I want the best for them.” Of course you love them – but respect is different. Respecting the child is first, to respect the nature of children. Children are not mini adults waiting to be molded. They are like tadpoles and caterpillars that have their own form and function of life waiting to become what they are intended to be. We are often impatient for them to become because we don’t realize that childhood – with its curiosity, playfulness, messiness and all – is part of the process of them transforming themselves into the adults they will become. We have to respect that process – which doesn’t mean they always get to do what they want. One of the operative words in Dr. Montessori’s writing is the word “train”. We do need to train our children but we need to train ourselves “not to destroy that which is good” in the nature of our children. The second part of respect is to respect the personality of your child. Your child is not a blank slate. They are already imbued with the unique characteristics of who they are. The artistic bent is already there. The math bent is already formed.The leader, the follower, the giver, the taker, the extrovert, the introvert are already dna’d into your child. Right or left handed, right or left brained are already formed.

So how do you cooperate with nature? You become an observer. That is the next step in becoming a Montessori parent – you train yourself to observe. What does your child gravitate to? What gives them great joy? What occupies them endlessly? These are all clues to who your child is becoming. You are fortunate that you have a trained helper in your child’s Montessori teacher. Your next parent conference should ask more than what has she done but who do you see her becoming. It is hard to cooperate with nature if you are not aware of the nature of your child.

Our third step is to become their champion. I know. I hear you say, “Of course, I’m their champion. I love them.” And so you do. But are their goals your goals? Translation: Do you have goals for them that do not take into account who they are. (There are many jock fathers who do not have jock sons.) Yes, you have many wonderful goals for them to be caring and loving, honest and faithful, upright, truthful, etc – and these are worthy, significant and meaningful goals which they should attain to. But the expression of their lives – career, vocation, work – is best met and fulfilled according to their gifts. When your five year old says, “I want to be a fireman.” He may be reflecting the latest book or television program he’s seen. However, if you continue to ask the why questions, “Why do you think that would be a good job? Why do you think that you would enjoy that?” you may discover that your child is not drawn just to the excitement but to the fact of wanting to help people or he likes the aspect of being part of a team. All are important clues to his personality. Your child needs you to champion and encourage his personality (especially, if it is different than yours.)

The fourth step is to practice what they learn at school – grace and courtesy. Please and thank you, may I, excuse me, please forgive me and a host of other considerations practiced (and modeled) at home will go a long way to giving your child every advantage in life. People respond favorably to a child with great manners.

Fifth, practice independence. Independence is the ability to be self-governing and that comes from making choices, living with the consequences and having responsibilities. As often as possible give your children choices. “What do you want for breakfast, cereal or eggs?” “Do you want two spoonfuls of carrots or one?” (Don’t offer choices where there are no choices. “Do you want carrots? They say no and you serve them anyway.) Give your children chores they can accomplish – making their beds, putting dirty clothes in the laundry, dishes in the dishwasher, etc. Chores build responsibility; responsibility builds independence; independence builds confidence.

Sixth, give them the gift of time. Give them time to accomplish their chores. Give them time to be children. Give them time to breathe. Give them your time.

Seventh, practice humility. They have a lot to learn from you. What is easy for you as an adult is mystifying and beyond challenge for them. Let your words be seasoned with grace. Look for the good in what they do. Their motives are often pure; their actions imperfect. Yet, we have a lot to learn from them also. And when you are wrong (when, not if) practice the humility of saying, “Please forgive me.” It will not destroy your authority or their respect for you. It will teach them one of the great lessons of life – when you fail, whether it’s in a relationship, school, career or life – own the failure and start over again – to succeed another day.

Becoming a Montessori parent is to become the best parent you can be.

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Montessori Community School is making a difference in our community by offsetting carbon by 6.81 tons (about 175 trees). 
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Summer Fun Pictures: Classic Fun Center, Water Slides, Roller Skating, Hiking, Great Outdoors, Waterfalls, Trail Blazing, Experience of a Lifetime

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MCS Elementary Students Exploring Millcreek Canyon During a Summer Field Trip
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Montessori Community School's Elementary students have been loving learning about Australia during our Summer Adventures Camp. Leraine Horstmanshoff plays, presents, and teaches our students different elements and techniques pertaining to the Didgeridoo and Australian culture. 

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Our Elementary Summer Adventures Camp Class explores bait fishing at Teapot Lake with much success! Thank you to Brad Fuller for guiding this activity.
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The Elementary students are having a blast at Summer Camp this year. We are looking forward to the next two sessions and a lot more fun times. Our new Elementary students are fitting in well and having an excellent time.  
 
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With the end of the school year drawing near, the energy of our student body is increasing. However, our teachers have Montessori Community School buzzing with activities, field trips, and End of Year Ceremonies.
This week, MCS has been celebrating our teachers through Teacher Appreciation Week. Truly, we can not express enough gratitude and thanks for our teachers here at MCS. Their dedication, love, support, and passion toward each child is awe-inspiring. We feel so blessed and grateful for their devotion to each student and Montessori Community School. How our teachers can keep the energy up, continue to plan such wonderful, educational activities, and coordinate so many beautiful ceremonies is a wonder. 
To our fabulous teachers, we say, Thank you, thank you, thank you.   

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“The human hand, so delicate and so complicated, not only allows the mind to reveal itself but it enable the whole being to enter into special relationships with its environment…man ‘takes possession of his environment with his hands.’ His hands, under the guidance of his intellect transform this environment and this enable him to fulfill his mission in the world.”
-       Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

Thank you to MCS’s Art Instructor, Kindra Fehr for organizing and implementing the painting of two murals on our school grounds.
 
Mural 1
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A garden theme designed and executed by our Middle School class. Oquirrh, a Lower Elementary (1st – 3rd grade) class and two Early Childhood classes, Sequoias and Willows (ages 3 – 5), contributed to the design by adding various bugs, butterflies, and flowers.
 
Mural 2
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Mural 2 is being painted on MCS’s new traversing wall. Designed by our Upper Elementary (4th – 6th grade) class, the wall features a desert theme. Wasatch, a Lower Elementary (1st – 3rd grade) class and two Early Childhood classes, Aspens and Magnolias (ages 3 – 5), will contribute to the design by adding various desert creatures and plants.
 
Art is one of the many ways children express themselves. Art is a way for children to communicate their feeling. It is through art that children develop their fine motor skills. In the Montessori environment, we provide open-ended art activities that help children explore and use their creativity.
 
When it comes to art, it is the process not the product that is important to the child. As adults, our goal is to produce a product. The child interacts with the world differently. The child works to develop self. The focus is on the process, not the product. Once a child creates something, he does not feel the need to keep the product. It is the process that gives satisfaction and inner joy. (Personette, 2011).
 
It has been a pleasure to witness the processes our students have gone through to prepare, plan, and employ as a school community to make these murals happen. It indeed, has been beautiful to see the cohesiveness and tight-knit relationships between our students, no matter the age or grade.  
 
 
 
 
Cited
Personette, Pamela. (April 2014). Art in the Montessori Environment. Montessori Services: A Resource for Preparing a Child’s Environment. Retrieved from http://www.montessoriservices.com/ideas-insights/art-in-the-montessori-environment
 
 
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Montessori Cultural curriculum includes learning about Geography, Science, Music, Art, and Yoga. Throughout these studies, our students have become familiar with continents, oceans, and countries including but not limited to specific flora, fauna, flags, and folks.  Montessori cultural education helps students to adapt to their own culture, inspires a love of learning, and offers a new perspective of the world. Within this spectrum, our students get the opportunity to do an in depth study of a particular culture, focusing on specific countries of our world and their uniqueness.


Thursday, April 24th our Elementary and Middle School students will be presenting their cultural studies for MCS’s Annual Cultural Fair from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm in the MCS gymnasium.  Our students’ presentations will remain set up throughout Friday, April 25th until late morning for all those wanting to swing by, view, support, and share in the success and hard work of our students. 
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Our deepest gratitude to parent, Richard Dorsky, for visiting our Magnolias,  
Oquirrh, Wasatch and Uinta classrooms to share his presentation on the brain.  
(yes, folks, those are real brains the students are studying!)
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"As soon as children find something that interests them they lose their instability and learn to concentrate."
-Maria Montessori

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Elementary age children are in a socially sensitive period and are developing their moral judgement. Their world is opening and building relationships with peers holds more value than ever before.  In this article entitled "8 Ways to Help Your Child Deal With Mean Kids" Patty Shade talks about what parents can do to validate their children without making them feel like victims of cruelty.  Managing those emotions and sifting through others children's behavior can be a difficult task for our children as they begin to explore new and different relationships and try to maintain and manage ongoing relationships. 

8 Ways to Help Your Child Deal With Mean Kids by Patty Shade

“Ben is being mean to me!!”

“I don’t like Allie. She’s SO mean!”

Surprisingly, complaints like this are common in my Lower Elementary Montessori classroom. And, I’m guessing that, at one time or another, you have heard something similar from your own child. [Read More]



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The elementary reading curriculum is designed to incorporate phonics, whole word and phonetic exceptions. Lower elementary students progress through a leveled reading program using the Pink, Blue and Green Montessori reading exercises while additional materials and experiences allow them to perfect their reading skills, develop their fluency and comprehension. The Grammar and Vocabulary materials allow the students to assimilate an understanding of the structural rules that govern the English language. Literary elements are explored during Group Literature. Lower and upper elementary students practice writing on a daily basis in classroom journals that cover a variety of writing forms. In lower elementary, Writer’s Workshops are held throughout the year to target specific writing skills. In upper elementary the different varieties of writing and writing skills are integrated into their cultural, science and literature studies. Our goal is to help the students become comfortable using writing as a communication skill. Students learn to think clearly, to research, and to express themselves with confidence and clarity in writing and speech.

  Lower Elementary Upper Elementary
Reading Reading readiness, phonic skills, guided reading, sight words, contextual clues, S.S.R. (Silent Sustained Reading), vocabulary Shared reading, dictionary skills, fluency, expression
Comprehension Responding to questions regarding Story-time book (sequencing events, recapping & summarizing, identification of character, plot & setting) context clues & main ideas Continued study of main ideas, sequencing & context clues, assumptions/inferences, following written directions & instructions
Penmanship Metal inset exercises, D’Nelian print & cursive, spacing, left justification, neatness Mastery of cursive
Spelling Unconventional to conventional, leveled spelling works Conventional spelling lists, spelling demons, vocabulary, spelling rules
Mechanics Ending punctuation, capitalization, commas Apostrophes, commas, quotation marks
Composition Complete sentences, journaling, picture prompted stories, modeled writing, editing Journaling, character & plot development, proofreading, revising, publishing
Study Skills Categorizing, table of contents, index, beginning reports Outlining, note taking, organizing information, skimming, advanced reports, paraphrasing
Grammar Parts of speech, parsing Sentence analysis, verb tenses
Speaking Poetry presentations, in-class reports, drama, story-telling Poetry presentations, in-class reports, drama,   story-telling
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The elementary Montessori math curriculum takes the students through a series of precise exercises using specifically designed materials that support the students’ emergent abilities to abstract. Using hands-on manipulative materials the students in 1st – 3rd grade are given tools by which to do their math work and so acquire a concrete understanding of math skills and knowledge. This solid foundation allows a smooth transition to abstract understanding and application of math skills during the 4th – 6th grades.

  Lower Elementary Upper Elementary
Numbers Linear counting, sequencing, place value through millions, before & after numbers, <, =, or >, skip counting, ordinal & Roman numbers, one-step word problems, patterns & relationships Factors & multiples, rounding numbers to nearest 10s & 100s, prime numbers, squaring and cubing, estimating, multiple-step word problems
Operations + - x / of whole numbers, regrouping, missing values, inverse operations, memorization of numerical patterns Large operations in all 4 operations (including long division, multi digit multipliers), operations involving decimals, memorization of tables, percentages, averages
Functions Identification of fractions, addition & subtraction with common denominators, multiplication & division of fractions by whole numbers, equivalencies Mixed numbers, + and – of fractions with unlike denominators, simplifying fractions
Measurement Standard and metric units of measurement for length, mass & volume Perimeter, area, capacity, word problems
Time Telling time to the minute Elapsed time, 24 hour clock, word problems involving time
Statistics Interpreting data, block and bar graphs Line graphs
Geometry Classification of solids, quadrilaterals, triangles and polygons, study of lines & triangles Study of circles, congruency & symmetry, use of protractor and compass
Money Coin value, totaling amounts Making change, word problems involving money
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