The Montessori Curriculum
6 to 9 years old
This program is offered at our Short Hills Campus
The Lower Elementary curriculum as established by The Montessori Children’s Academy builds and expands on the foundation the child has received during his or her primary years. We seek to inspire our students to become independent learners.
The goal of the MCA Elementary curriculum is to meet or exceed the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards. In preparing the curriculum, our staff has carefully reviewed the curriculum standards for the public schools in districts that our students may one day attend, to ensure that our educational ideology advances the school’s objective of leading, and not just following, the goals established by the rest of the community.
Our teachers focus on helping each child to develop his or her maximum potential through the use of a wide range of specialized learning materials. These materials have been developed in the Montessori context over many years with the goal of helping each student move from a comprehension of the concrete to an understanding of the abstract.
Each elementary student enters the Lower Elementary MCA program with basic reading and writing skills. The MCA Language Arts curriculum is designed to build on those basic skills and advance the child’s understanding of literature, grammar, spelling, composition, and reading comprehension. Lower Elementary students also work to improve their handwriting through the Handwriting Without Tears program.
The Montessori materials used in MCA’s Elementary Program were designed to help the child deepen his understanding of mathematics by moving from concrete to abstract concepts. The curriculum is designed to help the child improve his or her knowledge of math skills and concepts in a logical learning sequence, assisted by the teacher’s guidance.
Students begin with an examination of basic operations (addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication) and move on to "real world" problem solving. Students are also introduced to basic concepts in geometry, including angles, polygons, triangles, quadrilaterals, area and volume, similarity, congruency, and equivalency.
The purpose of the MCA Science curriculum is to expose the student to the scientific method while simultaneously conveying a broad understanding of and appreciation for the natural world around us. In so doing, the curriculum first addresses Physical Science, then moves on to incorporate various topics in Biological Science.
A key feature of the MCA Science curriculum is its frequent reliance on hands-on activities and experiments designed to attract the student’s curiosity.
Students will explore the Earth, the Sun, and our Solar System, including such concepts as magnetism and gravity. They will also be introduced to basic concepts in chemistry and physics, including an exploration of the science of weather. Finally, in the Biological Science area, MCA students explore botany, zoology, and cellular biology.
The core curriculum of the Elementary Program is designed to integrate subject matter, wherever possible, into a cohesive “whole.” History, the study of humanity’s past, is peculiarly well suited to this kind of integrated, holistic approach.
Integration is accomplished primarily through what is known in Montessori schools as “The Five Great Lessons,” by which the timelines of the Universe, Life, Humanity, Language, and Math are discovered. In fact, the purpose of the History curriculum is to help the child understand the concept of time. This is accomplished through an exploration of basic needs and the fundamental tenses of past, present, and future.
Geography is also integrated into the study of other subjects, such as science. The Geography curriculum utilizes maps to help students begin to trace the evolution of the earth and the countries that make up the world’s geographic boundaries.
In addition to flag studies, an overview of map skills, and research into individual countries and states, the MCA Geography Curriculum’s map work enables students to locate and identify:
- Major land formations around the world
- Oceans, seas, rivers, and lakes
- Islands, mountains, and volcanoes
- Countries, states, and cities
- Economic and political boundaries
MCA includes Spanish instruction in its core curriculum to facilitate awareness of cultural and linguistic differences throughout the world. The curriculum is also designed to foster a better understanding of the importance of effective and proper communication.
Through the use of conversational Spanish, the child improves his or her communication skills through an introduction to:
- Language structure
- Oral expressions
Students also enjoy the opportunity to speak Spanish at other times throughout the learning day.
The Elementary Technology curriculum consists of two major components. The first emphasizes computer literacy; the second promotes a general understanding of technology and how it impacts us in everyday life.
Computer literacy focuses on the following topics:
- Word processing
- Database concepts
- Information access
- Problem solving
- Integration of other technologies
The child explores current technologies and the evolution that took place that allows for their use as part of MCA’s educational tools. Students also discover how the latest technologies impact them in other settings.
Students continue to develop their interpersonal skills through the Physical Education curriculum, which focuses on fostering cooperation, fair play, and sportsmanship.
Students also learn the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle, through an integrated program consisting of both individual challenges and team-based activities.
During weekly music classes, students explore varied performance genres, musical notation, and composition. Students study the lives and music of composers, world music, blues, and jazz. They also learn about character creation, public speaking skills, communication through singing, and group storytelling.
At assemblies, Lower and Upper Elementary students will join to build community through the arts. Performances by outside artists will also offer students opportunities to discover a variety of artistic media.
Students in Lower Elementary begin their focus on self and the human body in the Health curriculum. Wellness, both physiological and emotional, is addressed as students are encouraged to develop healthy habits which will last a lifetime. The students explore the major body systems and functions as part of their Health education as they are related to health.
Children are naturally inclined to express themselves through their artwork, especially when they are encouraged to experiment with various styles using high quality art supplies and tools. Lower Elementary students begin to learn artistic principles and techniques and are exposed to some of the great artists throughout history who pioneered these techniques. Students connect their lives as artists to classroom themes and projects. The Visual Arts curriculum is enhanced with “art-focused” field trips, assemblies, exhibits, and guest artists.
The Lower Elementary students will explore the following topics:
- Art History
- Illuminated manuscripts
- Sketch techniques
- Dry and Oil Pastels
- Artist-Inspired Collages
- Still Life
- Multimedia projects
- Art and Nature
“The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. The child who concentrates is immensely happy.”