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Elementary

The Elementary program at Butler Montessori provides a planned environment and expansive course of study to meet your child’s developmental needs during this crucial phase of considerable intellectual and social growth.

Academic Approach

When your child moves into the Elementary class from the Primary classroom, he or she will find much that is familiar. The Elementary classroom is a carefully planned, child-centered environment designed to support independent learning. Many of the Montessori materials from the Primary classroom are also found in the Elementary class, where they are used in new ways that are suited to your child’s expanding intellectual and social growth.

Typically starting at age 6, your elementary-age child begins to transition from a young child interested in learning facts to an individual with a strong intellect who is able to think and reason. As your child moves through the Elementary years, he or she also becomes highly interested in developing peer relationships and exploring society apart from his or her family.

At this age, students are starting to ask questions and explore ideas such as: How did the world begin? When did humans develop? How does this machine work? This is why the foundation for all courses of study is the “Great Lessons.” These lessons provide the “big picture” of language, mathematics, astronomy, earth science, geography, chemistry, physics, biology, history, anthropology, social studies, music and art.

Most lessons and follow-up projects are done in pairs or groups of children because the Elementary child has a strong drive to be social and to collaborate. Your child has the chance to develop the social and organization skills needed to plan and carry out projects, delegate and divide up tasks, make group decisions, solve problems, resolve conflicts, celebrate successes and take responsibility for actions. These life lessons stay with your child long past his or her Elementary years into high school, college and the professional workplace of the future.

Children standing in front of capital building in DC

To support the Elementary student’s growing intellect and developing personality, “going-outs” are included as an essential part of the Montessori curriculum. A “going-out” is a small group trip undertaken to further explore an area of academic study. Usually two to three children will plan and organize a trip and arrange for adult supervision and transportation. “Going-outs” can range from a trip to the zoo to study tigers to visiting the Smithsonian museums to “shadowing” a veterinarian for a day.

To foster richly varied encounters between children at similar stages of development, students are grouped into Lower Elementary (ages 6-9) and Upper Elementary (ages 9-12). Not only does this allow your child the opportunity to have the same Montessori Guide for three years, it also allows your child flexibility to work at his or her individual level. As a result, your child remains challenged and actively engaged in learning.

At the end of your child’s Elementary years, your 12-year-old will have developed a strong academic foundation, the skill set to work within groups of children of different ages, and the ability to work independently, take responsibility and be flexible and adaptable. As a result, he or she will be well-positioned for continued academic and social growth in the Butler Montessori Intermediate program and beyond.

Student painting set for winter festival.

Art

Art is a regular feature of your Elementary child’s life and work in the classroom and becomes another way of acquiring knowledge from a lesson. Beautifully colored time lines and impressionistic charts are essential parts of lesson presentations, drawn by students as a means of absorbing new information. Work is illustrated, as in the Primary, but with more sophisticated drawings, designs and use of color as the students mature from age 6 to 12.

Specific art concepts are presented to the students in small groups and as an independent work choice throughout the week in the classroom. Different media such as pen and ink, clay, papier mache and watercolor are used. Your child also enjoys the opportunity to explore different art disciplines, including painting, drawing and sculpture, as well as sewing, weaving and knitting.

Elementary children also have a weekly session with their Butler Montessori art teacher in order to deepen their skills and appreciation of art. Students work with a variety of media and techniques and explore different styles of art, sometimes as part of their study of an artist’s work. Generally, the goal of the teacher is to lead the students through steps of an art project without detailing what they produce so your child is free to create.

The display of Elementary students’ art work for the Winter Festival is a yearly delight that demonstrates their well-developed sense of color, design and attention to detail.

Music and Performing Arts

Throughout the Elementary years, your child will continue to have the opportunity to increase his or her music knowledge under the guidance of our extensively trained Music and Performing Arts Specialist. Using a developmentally based approach called Dalcroze Eurhythmics, children are engaged through the games and activities to learn how to read music and develop the skills of teamwork, coordination and collaboration.

The younger Elementary students learn how to play an instrument called the flutophone. They also are given the chance to play percussion instruments such as the xylophone and glockenspiel. Older Elementary students learn how to play the recorder along with various non-traditional percussion instruments.

Students are also engaged in learning folk dances as well as interpreting and choreographing classical pieces as an introduction to understanding different musical forms.

Theater and drama are introduced in the form of simple musical stories. Elementary students are asked to improvise and interpret different roles (role-play). Singing, voice training, voice projection, dramatization and interpretative techniques also become an important part of the curriculum as the Elementary child reaches age 9 and beyond.

Highlights of the school year include the music and drama performances that take place as part of the Winter Festival by the younger Elementary students. Another longstanding tradition is the production of a musical play performed each year by the older Elementary students. Not only do the students have the chance to experience firsthand the excitement and hard work involved in a musical theater production, they also discover how to work as a team toward a common goal for the good of the entire group.

Physical Education

All Elementary students enjoy the opportunity to participate regularly in outdoor and indoor activities under the guidance of Butler Montessori’s experienced Physical Education Specialist. These activities allow students to use their bodies to burn off excess energy and clear their minds so they can return to the classroom refreshed and ready for learning.

At the Elementary level, the focus is on teamwork, good sportsmanship, the spirit of game, physical development (both fine and gross motor) and building or increasing physical stamina. Competition is minimized as the students play and learn the fundamentals of a variety of team sports, such as basketball, soccer, football, baseball and volleyball.

Team-building activities are an important element of the Physical Education program and complement the school’s philosophy of building community and relationships, along with increasing self-awareness. Some of these team-building activities are done on the campus’s ropes course, which has many climbing elements that offer both individual and team challenges. Favorite team games are the classics: dodgeball, soccer and capture the flag!