The education of a child between the ages of six and twelve is built upon the foundation that has been created in the primary environment. Dr. Montessori, however, observed that the needs of these children differed from those of the primary children. Children of this age are driven to understand the universe and their place in it. Elementary children have seemingly endless energy for exploration and research. They conduct their work with great joy and purpose.
An elementary classroom must accommodate the unique characteristics of these children. The strongest of which is the development of the reasoning mind. There is a powerful drive in the elementary child to know the reasons of things. Their questions often begin with “why” and “how”. They are drawn to ideas, and enjoy discussions where ideas and logical trains of thought are explored. They exhibit a boundless capacity for intellectual stimulation because of their motivation to learn and their desire to see the relationships between fields of study. Dr. Montessori observed that this is the greatest period of intellectual development.
The child of this age is also highly social, expressing a strong desire to be with friends. In the elementary class, because the child is driven to connect to the social group, all lessons are given to groups of children. This need is supported by the Montessori philosophy, which encourages children to work collaboratively with their peers after the lessons. Lessons are given to small groups of children with the goal of sparking their imaginations and engaging their intellects.
The elementary years also begin a period of moral development. Associated with the sense of justice and morality, is a great sense of honesty. Children want to understand for themselves and use their own judgment. The child has a strong sense of justice. He wants to know not only, “what are the rules of the game?” but more importantly, he wants to know, “why are these rules the rules of the game?”
Montessori education aims to serve the development of the whole child. The goal is to support the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development of each child. Elementary studies include geography, botany, zoology, history, language, mathematics, science, music, and art. Further exploration of studies in each area is encouraged through student-planned and student-led small group excursions outside the classroom to community resources such as the library, planetarium, botanical garden, science center,
factory, hospital, and such.
The inclusive approach to education that Montessori provides fosters a feeling of connectedness to all humanity and encourages children to make contributions to their world. Graduates of the elementary program are well-rounded, confident, responsible, joyful learners who are balanced in physical, intellectual, and social achievements.