Ages 6-9 and 9-12
As one enters Skokie Montessori’s elementary classroom, they are immediately aware of the order, cleanliness, and beauty it possesses. The classroom is well stocked with diligently maintained, exciting materials from a large variety of subjects. These materials and activities encourage student growth and development and facilitate reaching each individual’s full potential.
The classroom is kept neat and orderly, not only by the teacher, but also by the students. Students participate in care of the environment with a variety of classroom jobs. Students are in charge of organizing the library, dusting the shelves, and placing the materials properly on the shelves. This helps the classroom stay clean and allows students to feel ownership in their environment. It also helps students be involved in keeping materials orderly and ready for the next student to use.
The shelves in the classroom are logically organized. The materials increase in difficulty from top to bottom as well as from left to right. The least complicated materials are in the upper left of the shelf and the most challenging materials are on the bottom right side of the shelf. Students can easily find materials appropriate for their skill development and interest on the uncluttered, visually pleasing shelves. Sequenced activities are placed in ascending order and are clearly numbered or marked making finding fitting materials simple for all students.
The elementary classroom is aesthetically pleasing for all who enter, especially the students who see it as a learning environment set up especially for their needs and wants. All who enter sense a logical, neat, well-planned, and well-maintained classroom open for the exploration of the students. The educational environment at Skokie Montessori offers a wide variety of curriculum materials and activities that encourage the child’s development of their full potential. The room is designed to allow for table work and group work, individual and group work, as well as quiet work and active work. The arrangement of materials and organization of the room is congruent with Montessori principles of individual development appropriateness.
The schedule and curriculum in Skokie Montessori’s elementary classroom is in harmony with Montessori’s beliefs of cosmic education, individual development, uninterrupted work time, and social interaction of students. The classroom schedule allows for a consistent and dependable routine each day of the week. The schedule also permits a variety of work options, such as working with peers, choosing subjects to study at an individual pace, and having long stretches of time to complete complicated activities. The classroom schedule also leaves time for cooperative group work and peer teaching. Lessons can be given collectively or selectively as need arises. Students structure their own learning time, guided by the teacher and a work plan that is fit to that particular student’s needs and interests.
The curriculum in the elementary room is vast and has many different subjects including, but not limited to: mathematics, language, geometry, geography, natural sciences, history and cultural studies, and beginning physics and chemistry. Activities for physical education and the creative arts are also included at Skokie Montessori. Peace education is very important and is a part of everyday for the students. Peaceful resolutions are demonstrated and encouraged. When all is peaceful, students are free to discover knowledge in the subject areas.
Each subject has engaging, well-kept, well-organized materials on uncluttered shelves. The materials entice students and appeal to their creativity and exploration. Each activity or experience is structured to provide purpose, procedure, closure and opportunity for success. Many materials are self-correcting and allow students to check their own progress. There is always room to grow and learn more about each activity and students witness this through their peers and teacher guidance. Field studies are offered to students who show deep curiosity in a curriculum area.
Each student at Skokie Montessori is encouraged to reach their highest potential in intellectual growth, social skills, and behavior from the leadership and guidance of the teachers. The elementary teachers demonstrate a broad repertoire of teaching strategies that reach a variety of learning styles and effectively meet the developmental, social, and emotional needs for the students. The teachers are able to give exciting and engaging individual lessons, small group lessons, and full class lessons. Lessons are planned and implemented in clear chronological order as shown by the readiness of the students. Each teacher gives clear and consistent verbal and nonverbal messages to the students that follow the classroom guidelines set up in the beginning of the year by the entire group. The teachers also use a calm voice and a pleasant tone throughout the school day showing respect to all students. This helps the teacher model techniques for conflict resolution and equal treatments and interactions for all.
Teachers in the elementary classroom facilitate children’s optimal growth and development through observation and actions based on those observations. The teachers are skilled observers who know exactly what to look for to see if students are mastering ideas and materials. When teachers see that mastery, they respond by showing the next step, stepping up the challenge of the material, or showing students what to move on to depending upon the subject and material in question. The teachers are able to record this process anecdotally as well as on specific forms showing the goals. The teachers at Skokie Montessori also have appropriate expectations for the quality and quantity of work based on student ability and interest.
Students have the opportunity to plan, monitor, and assess their own learning and works. Students have work plans that allow spaces for checking completed work and shown work. Students are able to choose which work to do on a daily basis and watch their progress with that work. Blank space is also left for students to choose their own work throughout the week. All student work is kept in notebooks and binders and can be referenced as needs and used to show growth and development in the subject areas.