The Bridgeview Montessori School's elementary program educates children from ages 6 through 12. The classes are multi-age, with Elementary I (grades 1 to 3) serving ages 6-9 and Elementary II (grades 4 to 6) serving ages 9-12. The student to teacher ratio in our elementary classrooms is no more than 12 to 1.
Six to nine year-olds are in a sensitive period for understanding their place in the universe, the world, their community, their family, and their classroom. The curriculum, expressed through the “Great Lessons,” begins with the birth of the universe and all of the matter that exists today and the laws that bind it together. Next, studies include the solar system and the earth’s creation over billions of years. We examine the contributions of ancient humans and human civilizations through the fundamental needs of all humans. In comparing the needs of food, clothing, shelter, safety, and spirituality across cultures and over time, we think about how these basic needs are met. Through the study of ancient civilizations up to the present time, students learn about and focus on our connectedness as people. We also use specific timelines to look at the significance of language and numbers in our daily lives. Students explore where humans have been and learn to see themselves as part of a continuum of all that has come before us. At the Elementary I level, students are exposed to these concepts through a series of impressionistic lessons.
The Elementary I curriculum incorporates best practices in education, including a balanced literacy approach that emphasizes the interconnectedness of reading and writing. Montessori trained teachers guide students in building basic math and language skills with concrete materials and a series of instructed exercises. Our lesson methodology incorporates presentation, recall, and recognition. Our teachers carefully challenge each student according to his or her developmental needs and abilities. The prepared environment and purposeful activities are basic to independent, self-directed learning.
Daily uninterrupted work periods allow for a variety of different kinds of work activities. These sequential activities are guided by individual work plans with teacher support and guidance. Students are given presentations individually, in small groups and in larger community groups, and they regularly conference with teachers to discuss progress and goals. Student are also guided to practice self-assessment As students become actively involved in their learning, they become more motivated and reflective.
Children aged 9-12 are continuing the transition from concrete to abstract thinking. Our Elementary II program is designed to support this change and guide students as they prepare for the next phase of their academic lives. Although pure abstraction will come later in life, 9-12 year-olds are able to begin conceptualizing abstract ideas.
At the EII level, we continue to introduce new concepts with Montessori manipulatives. Students are encouraged to use these materials in order to enrich their understanding. Ours is a Montessori based curriculum in which students are encouraged to plan, prioritize, and manage their own work through the use of daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Teachers initiate lessons to spark interest and guide students toward independent research in many subject areas. Students present their findings through various modalities and participate in self and peer evaluation as an integral part of the process. In this way, we capitalize on students’ interests while they build independence and confidence.
The 9-12 year old is in a sensitive period for understanding the complexities of ethical behavior. In EII, we respond to this by giving students greater responsibility in building the classroom community. Students not only work together in groups, but also analyze the group process as it is taking place. Among other activities, students use community meetings to solve problems together and brainstorm ways to take responsibility for classroom management. We also promote a sense of school-wide community through peer mentoring programs. EII students meet with younger Bridgeview Montessori students on a regular basis to form peer mentor relationships. Through these experiences, our students are able to take pride in their accomplishments and act as role models for younger students within our school community.
Each of these valuable learning experiences is enhanced in EII by the process of metacognition: learning about learning. All students have individual strengths, as well as individual challenges. In the Montessori environment, students begin to understand their own learning styles and use them to work with their best strengths. Students are guided to reflect on their own learning in order to monitor their own progress towards personal and group goals.
Home Assignments for Elementary Students
We assign a reasonable amount of traditional homework so that children have the time to pursue personal interests that contribute to their development as well rounded, lifelong learners. In keeping with the idea of nurturing interests, our home assignments are designed to allow students to continue developing a love for knowledge, personal expression, and reinforce skills learned in the classroom. Individual classroom teachers will provide more information about particular assignments and homework schedules. We ask that parents assist their children in achieving homework success by creating quiet homework spaces and scheduling their time so that they can complete the assignments by the provided due dates.
Elementary I home assignments are generally literacy based with students choosing related projects that reflect their individual learning styles and interests. These projects are to be completed over a period of days, and often involve reading and preparing some type of presentation. Additionally, other home assignments may be organic or spontaneous extensions of the work being done in class.
Elementary II students are asked to complete both short range and long range assignments. Typically, there is a predictable weekly homework schedule. This may include such things as reading with written reflections, math work that is an extension of school lessons, and spelling. Longer research assignments are also completed at home. These projects allow the students to work with long range planning as they meet multiple deadlines.
Missed class/home work due to absence is expected to be made up after student returns to school. Teachers are not required to send home class/home work in advance of a student’s absence. Student and teacher will agree as to time allotted for makeup work