Montessori Elementary is a thoughtful approach to education that works in conjunction with each child’s unique abilities on their path to personal development. With a flexible structure children have the opportunity to explore their interests at their own pace in a nurturing environment. The elementary classroom is designed to inspire and nurture children during this important period of growth. We do this by taking into consideration the characteristics of elementary aged children. Children have a need for movement and a gregarious work instinct, Montessori elementary programs allow for big spaces and large group work. Imagination also plays an important role in the elementary curriculum acting as a catalyst for the guide to spark the natural curiosity that lies within each child. When you follow the will the child and lend guidance and love the possibilities for all around growth is endless.
The Forest Room is the first Elementary classroom at Harmony Montessori. Each day brings on a new adventure as children use our unique prepared environment to explore the universe. In class we study: Biology, Geography, Mathematics, Language, History, Geometry, Art, Music, Spanish and American Sign Language. The exploration also continues out in our community with our “Going Out” program and extracurricular activities (see below for further information about these parts of our Elementary program). In addition, every year the Forest Room will attend Out Door Science School on a 3 day 2 night trip to one of three locations provided by OMSI.
Sometimes the classroom cannot answer all the questions the child has. “Going Out” is the term we use for children’s explorations outside the classroom. The Going Out program allows children to plan trips to nearby sites for the purpose of acquiring information that will aid them in their current interest of study. This is a practice presented to guides in Montessori training centers all over the world and was Montessori’s own plan for guides to support the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs of the children.
Going out usually begins with a specific question in mind; these questions can be answered by observations in the community and interviews with experts. Going out can provide the child with a concrete experience of an abstracted and imagined situation or it can provide a means to enrich the classroom environment. Examples of Going Outs are: Going to the zoo to observe live species of animals of interest, going to Hoyt Arboretum to collect samples of leaves and roots, or simply going to the public library to restock the selections of books in the classroom.
Going Out entails a lot of responsibility. The process involves students, teachers, community members and parent volunteers. The children are in charge of their own experience, planning where they want to go, when they want to go, how they will get there, and showing gratitude for support. Each going out requires the students to make a detailed plan of the specifics, including generating a permission slip, mapping the directions the chaperones with follow to get to their destination and calculating the funds necessary to meet their needs during the excursion.
All the components of the preparation for Going Out serve the child’s mind: The organization, the challenges and joys of working together, the thinking ahead. The experiences satisfy the intellectual curiosity of the children. The public is usually impressed with the behavior of Montessori Elementary children when they are on a going out. The children often get feedback from members in the community which can be a valuable part of development. When we help the children with Going Out we are sharing the world with them. We are showing them that the world can be a friendly and helpful place to learn and one where they are welcome to explore safely.
Outside of the traditional Montessori curriculum we engage in extracurricular activities. Physical education class is held outside on Friday afternoon and green space is provided for running and large group games and songs. We also utilize the Community Center two blocks away for swimming once a month. Cooking facilities are available for guided use and cooking lessons are provided during class time. Yoga is offered to students at least once a week in the afternoon and our most recent child developed activity is “Tea Time Tuesday”. Even though herbal tea is available to students at any time, we have set aside a portion of time on Tuesday mornings for tea and use this time to share stories about our lives.
Self- construction is the work of the child and in The Forest Room all work is child driven, but it is the work of the adults to inspire the independent study and spark curiosity. We invite you to join us as we explore a cosmos of possibilities.