The goal of a Montessori education is to foster independence in the children.

The classroom environment is prepared in such a way as to allow the children the freedom of choice and each activity has a control of error enabling the children to correct their mistakes. As an example, the math binders have questions available to the students to provide the means for students to work independently. The binders include an answer key and once the student’s work has been checked for completion, the child then corrects his/her work.

“He must have absolute freedom of choice, and then he requires nothing but repeated experiences, which will become increasingly marked by interest and serious attention, during his acquisition of some desired knowledge.” (Montessori, Maria, To Educate the Human Potential, p. 4)


The Montessori curriculum is taught from large scope to small, moving from big-picture understanding to a focus on details. The children continue to work with concrete materials to explore academic areas, quickly discovering abstract methods to utilize.

Dr. Montessori referred to the elementary stage as the Intellectual Period. The child, entering a period of uniform growth, focuses on mental explorations. Given an open and rich environment, there are no limits to what the child may learn and explore. Dr. Montessori saw this time as a critical time for expansive education, giving the children lessons and questions to guide their explorations of culture, science, mathematics, language and social rules and morals.

Social and emotional learning means the processes by which children acquire the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to:

  • recognize and manage their emotions,
  • demonstrate caring and concern for others,
  • establish positive relationships,
  • make responsible decisions, and
  • constructively handle challenging social situations. 

From birth, children constantly try to emulate the adults that surround them. This is done in an effort not only to copy them (we look at the old proverb “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”) but to assimilate and fit in with their imposed environment. Dr. Montessori believed that the very foundation of education lies in the child’s fulfillment of being able to accomplish the tasks of Practical Life. Children need to learn the exercises of Practical Life in order to delight in their environments, whether it be home or school or other. The exercises relate both to the physical and social environments, enabling successful interaction amongst their peers.

In Lower Elementary, the Practical Life activities are made to be functional to their day and their contributions to their community. Activities are designed based on respect and care of environment (caring for plants and animals, caring for the classroom and coat areas, food preparation, recycling, ecology, planting), grace, courtesy, and etiquette (extending kindness and empathy to others, sharing and taking turns), independence (care of self, health and safety, nutrition and food preparation, time management skills, organizational skills, problem solving, time management).

Many of these activities are practiced indirectly, for example, coming to lessons prepared and keeping track of class assignments via their agendas, or through snack and lunch preparation, while other skills are taught directly.

Language is the foundation upon which elementary studies are constructed. Children are presented with the practical tools for encoding and decoding words, sentences, and paragraphs, yet it is never seen as an isolated exercise.

The Montessori Fourth Great Lesson is the story of how writing began. This impressionistic story grabs the attention of young students who are eager to learn about those who came before us. From there, they listen to and read great literature and are further motivated to tell their own stories through creative writing, reports, drama, poetry, and song.

Throughout this work, Montessori students are introduced to the rules of human communication through word studies, work with the Montessori Grammar Boxes, as well as beginning logical sentence analysis. The goal in the Montessori elementary Language curriculum is not to teach grammar but to give a concrete representation and foster a love of the function of words.

Dr. Montessori described the role of language in traditional education as forcing children speak and write when they have nothing to say. She said instead, that “The child must create his interior life before he can express anything; he must take spontaneously from the external world constructive material in order to ‘compose’; he must exercise his intelligence fully before he can be ready to find the logical connection between things. We ought to offer the child that which is necessary for his internal life and leave him free to produce.” (Spontaneous Activity in Education). By unlimited exposure in the Montessori environment, we free the child’s creative and imaginative process, giving her the means to write and tell her own story.

Students use materials to work toward the abstraction of math concepts, naturally formulating rules and formulas themselves. Traditionally, the study of mathematics starts with the rules and the drills follow. According to the Montessori method, the rules are points of arrival, not departure. Through the student’s own effort, internalization of abstract concepts is achieved.

As students transition from Casa to Lower Elementary, they will experience a sense of familiarity with some of the manipulatives, and be introduced to new ones. Once they internalize a specific math concept, they can then move on to abstract problem solving. In addition to the manipulatives, we use Montessori Made Manageable and Montessori for Everyone worksheets for both classwork and supplemental work, along with various textbooks and workbooks, that complement specific concepts and skills.

Traditionally, the study of geometry is undertaken in later years as an abstract series of rules, theorems, and propositions. Dr. Montessori saw geometry as firmly rooted in reality, and built a curriculum for Lower Elementary students that uses concrete, sensorial experimentation, leading students to concepts through their own creative research. Although sophisticated in content, geometry at the elementary level continues to be well grounded in concrete experiences with manipulative materials. In this way, etymology is discovered, relationships and concepts are explored and researched, and the child’s conclusions serve as a basis for theorems, proofs, and formulas.

The Lower Elementary Culture curriculum is deeply integrated with the presentation of the five great Lessons which center on themes of progress and interdependency. The Great Lessons are presented with highly impressionistic stories and materials, offering the child a panoramic view of the universe and a sense of humanity across time. The great questions that arise from this view then serve as a blueprint for further study in all cultural areas. The stories present not only the changes the earth has undergone since its beginning, but also the ways in which each new animal or plant affects all others. Dr. Montessori wrote, “Let us give [the elementary children] a vision of the whole universe…all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” The Culture curriculum encompasses biology (kingdoms of life, systems of the human body), botany (classification of plants, form and function of plants, parts of plants, interdependencies of animals and plants), zoology (classification of animals, form and function of animals, parts of the animal, interdependencies of animals and plants), physical science (composition of the earth, three states of matter, laws of attraction and gravity, balance and motion), earth sciences (ecosystems, sun and earth, air and weather, land and water forms, map skills, scientific reasoning and technology, observation skills), history (ancient civilizations, immigration and Canadian history, world civilizations) and geography (physical geography, political geography, economic geography).

The use of hands-on materials, coupled with developing reading, writing, and research skills allow the elementary student to ask and attempt to answer questions no less profound than, “How did the world begin?” “Where did we come from?” and “Why…?” The hands-on experience at this age prepares the child for future abstract thinking in upper elementary, where understanding is not directly connected by the senses.