Lower Elementary Program (ages 6-9 years)
A Shining Stars Montessori Academy Lower Elementary education is tailored for each child. It also covers more than just the traditional academic curricula area; it is an education of the whole child: cognitively, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. The curriculum follows the child instead of forcing the child to follow the curriculum along with every other child at the same time. Only by following and studying the child can teachers match their efforts and provide appropriate jobs and environment tailored to the child’s developmental needs. At Shining Stars Montessori Academy, we seek to nurture children’s natural desire to learn in order that they will develop to their fullest potential.
Each day, children in the Lower Elementary classroom follow a routine that allows them to have confidence in the rhythm of the day and a sense of control in their environment. After arrival, children have time ("Morning Connections") where the students discuss their community time for the week and set out the routine of that particular day.
Children then move into work time, where they are allowed to choose from work on which they have had lessons. Each child has a learning plan to complete during the week, and they are responsible, with gentle encouragement and guidance, to make sure they complete the work for which they are responsible. Rather than being in an environment that makes work sound mundane and boring to children, they learn to associate work with things they can accomplish and creating a sense of achievement and fun.
The Montessori philosophy considers "holistic development of the child to be essential". Work focuses on multiple forms of learning, stressing not only cognitive exercises but also tactile and auditory development. This is a time of high growth for the child, where she or he still rapidly absorbs the sights, sounds, and experiences in the world around her. Thus, in addition to regular classroom routine, each week the children in Lower Elementary have art and music times, as well as Spanish. Outside time in nature is a critical element of the Shining Stars Montessori philosophy as well, and Lower Elementary students will have the benefit of an outdoor classroom and nature to explore.
Lower Elementary serves in many ways as a continuation of the foundation built in the Primary classrooms. Some of the same activities remain from the Primary classroom, ones that are "developmentally appropriate and help foster confidence and personal growth across a range of developmental schema. At the same time, new work is added to help the student continue to progress, ensuring growth across the physical, intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual realms." Montessori materials are laid out in an organized fashion throughout the classroom, at levels that are appropriate for children in this age range. The entire classroom is designed with the children’s needs in mind.
Academic Curriculum & More
Math concepts at Shining Stars are aligned with the Common Core and presented in a logical sequence, beginning with the concrete and leading to the abstract. Understanding takes precedence over memorization, which develops through repeated work with the operations. Through student work with the Montessori and other supporting materials, LE students are introduced to advanced mathematical concepts. Operations are presented in the following order: addition, multiplication, division, and subtraction.
Geometrical concepts that are introduced at the sensorial level in the Primary Program , are explored further through the use of Montessori materials in Lower Elementary. The study of geometric solids, lines, angles, basic shapes, plane figures, polygons, and quadrilaterals form an important foundation for further exploration of geometrical concepts.
Language studies include multiple forms of learning in the Montessori Lower Elementary classroom. Reading and writing are widely used forms of language development both through formal activities and daily interactions in all forms of communication. Students also focus on vocabulary development and word study. Through introduction to research, students also learn about paraphrasing, applying appropriate grammar and conceptual analysis, as well as developing oral presentations and performances to share their learning. All language curriculum is in alignment with Montessori standards and the District of Columbia Common Core State Standards.
Science & Cultural Studies including the “Great Lessons”
In the Lower Elementary classroom, science and cultural studies are a central part of the Shining Stars Montessori students’ learning. Lessons are planned in both history and geography. Science lessons span the areas of geology, botany, zoology, physical science, and the scientific method. The Lower Elementary classroom also includes the “Great Lessons”: the Coming of the Universe, the Coming of Life, the Coming of Humans, the Coming of Language, and the Coming of Numbers.
The peace curriculum is a central part of Shining Stars Montessori Academy education. The focus of the lessons includes problem solving among peers, the cause of conflicts and why some conflicts lead to violence, as well as considering alternative solutions and problem solving techniques.
Field Trips/"Going Out"
Maria Montessori called for “going out” to be an integral part of the elementary child’s education. Nature walks, field trips to Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, the Smithsonian museums, Frederick Douglas House and the National Colonial Farm in Acoceek are just some of the places we plan to visit over the three-year cycle of the Lower Elementary Program.
Students will be encouraged to bring forth areas of need in the community they are interested in making better. This will help develop awareness of the needs of others in their community. We will begin our community service outreach by coordinating a food drive for Martha's Table and S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat)
Music (Instrumental & Voice)
Music is an integral part of the Montessori philosophy. Consistent exposure to musical instruments, musical note work, and rhythm and melody work are a core part of the Shining Stars Academy philosophy of holistic development of the child. The school will start African Drumming class (featuring the Djembe) for Lower Elementary level students. A shining Stars Children's Choir will be formed in the Fall 2014 for Lower Elementary and Primary Students.
Regular art lessons will be included in the Lower Elementary classroom. Lessons will span the scope of visual arts, including drawing, painting, and sculpting.
Physical Education/Health and Wellness
In addition to extracurricular physical education options, regular physical education will be included in the Lower Elementary classroom.
World Language Exploration at SSMA
Spanish will be taught for 90 minutes each week as part of the afternoon work cycle with the children learning everyday terminology and grammar that they will need to converse in the classroom.