Elementary (6 - 12 years)

The Montessori elementary curriculum is designed as an integrated whole serving the needs of children from age 6 to 12.

List of 1 items.

  • The continuity of the curriculum allows individual children to move through the various subject areas at the pace that is best for them, building confidence and genuine self-esteem based on proven performance.

    The activities that follow the structured presentations given by the teacher include work choices that appeal to the full range of learning styles. Because the curriculum engages the children’s deep interest and meets their need to learn through exploration in a variety of learning styles and rates, classroom assignments and extra school work assigned specifically to be done at home become unnecessary. The children work spontaneously on their interests both at home and at school.

    Please register below to learn more. Kindly note that we do not accept children into our Elementary program who do not have prior Montessori experience.

List of 1 items.

  • Our Elementary Programs operate from August - May, with options for early arrival and after school programs.

    We also offer eight weeks of summer enrichment programs in June and July.

Dr. Maria Montessori 

Knowledge can be best given where there is an eagerness to learn, so this is the period when the seed of everything can be sown, the child’s mind being like a fertile field, ready to receive what will germinate into culture.  But if neglected during this period, or frustrated in its vital needs, the mind of the child becomes artificially dulled, henceforth to resist imparted knowledge.  Interest will no longer be there if the seed is sown too late, but at six years of age all items of culture are received enthusiastically, and later these seeds will expand and grow.

Learning Through Cosmic Education

In the Early Elementary (ages 6 - 9 years old) children work concretely, with more reliance on the Montessori materials. As the ability to think abstractly matures in the Upper Elementary years (ages 9 - 12 years old), the sequences of lessons increasingly lead to work on paper and into self-initiated research projects. The Montessori materials then become tools that the children can use to refresh their memories of earlier work or to explore creatively some advanced extension of an earlier study. For example, the material that younger children use to learn the rudiments of arithmetic are reinterpreted to learn algebra and extended to learn arithmetic in non-decimal bases.

As the child’s mind and self-discipline mature it becomes possible for them to undertake ambitious projects requiring the integration of knowledge from across the curriculum and well-developed collaboration skills. The Upper Elementary guide then becomes a consultant to the children, helping them organize and find resources to meet both the requirements of local curriculum standards and the challenges of their self-initiated projects.

Areas of Study

The Great Stories are told near the beginning of each school year, and each one serves to introduce a major branch of human knowledge from which the teacher will be presenting formal lessons. These areas include geography and physical science, biology, history, and social studies, language, and mathematics. The children's work in the classroom is supported by a vibrant "Going Out" program.

Below are the different areas of cosmic education covered in both Early and Upper Elementary.

List of 7 items.

  • Biology

    Biology is introduced by the second Great Story, the story of the coming of life. In further studies the child learns to describe and classify the many varieties of living things according to the classical morphological taxonomies. Studies of botany and zoology begin with nature walks, gardening, and caring for indoor plants and animals, then proceed to a more analytic study of the functional anatomy of plants and animals. Older children explore the ecological interdependencies between plants and animals, as well as the “hidden kingdoms” of life: the bacteria and other microscopic organisms. Studies of the human body and its major systems lead the children to a new understanding of themselves and the importance of exercise, nutritious food, and other healthy habits.
  • Geography and Physical Science

    Geography and the physical sciences are introduced by the first Great Story. This is the story of the creation of the universe and the discovery by each part of the physical universe that it has certain specific laws of nature that it must obey. The story gives impressions of important concepts that will play a role in the children’s studies of geology, physics, and chemistry in Upper Elementary, Middle School and beyond. At the end of the story, the earth is formed but life has not yet appeared.
  • Going Out of the Classroom

    Children of elementary age develop interests in all directions. Their passionate pursuit of understanding naturally leads them out of the confined space of the classroom, its books and materials, and into the world itself to experience things first hand. Such organized forays into the world to pursue studies begun in the classroom are known as “Going Out.”

    The elementary age child must be given real situations in which to exercise will and judgment. Moreover, in order for the child to have a sufficiently rich experience of the world and a sufficiently rich body of experience, it is necessary that much of the child’s learning take place outside the classroom. Going Out differs from traditional field trips insofar as it is initiated, planned, and executed by the child, not the adult, and it arises spontaneously from the interest and work of the child, not from a plan of instruction made by the adult. Adult intervention is limited to reviewing the children’s self-evaluation of the details of the plan in advance of leaving the campus, the chauffer/chaperone’s assurance of safety during the trip, and the receiving of the student’s and chauffer’s reports of accountability upon their return.

    A Going Out for a young elementary child might be as simple (from the adult perspective) as a trip to the public library to look for books not available at school. An older child who is more experienced and able to take on more responsibility might organize a trip to a university to interview a zoologist or an astronomer, a trip to hear a concert of Indonesian music and dance, or a trip to a horse breeder stable to learn about trail rides for people with disabilities.
  • History and Social Studies

    The third Great Story tells of the coming of human beings. It introduces both human history, including the development of a concept of linear time and the study of important civilizations of the past, and anthropology, including studies of the Fundamental Needs of Humans and how satisfaction of these needs has shaped all human cultures. History is not presented in strict chronological order but given as a series of engaging stories together with timelines that give a broad framework for understanding. Throughout their elementary years, the children are engaged in research and other activities that bring alive for them different periods of time and their relationships.

    The arts are presented as one of the Fundamental Needs. Art is integrated into every area of study as free expression, technical illustration, design, and decoration. The organization of the classroom environment and the beauty of the handmade Montessori materials constantly convey to the children a sense of esthetic order and an appreciation of the skill of the human hand.

    The lessons in history – understood as the ongoing story of the cosmos — and the Fundamental Needs of Human Beings play a particularly important role in developing in the child the sense of gratitude to past generations and the awareness of interdependence between all peoples. In Cosmic Education, history is more than dates and facts and timelines. Although there are certain lessons that are specifically designed to give the child concepts and tools for the study of history, history is actually distributed throughout the entire curriculum. The child encounters new subjects and new knowledge as the products of human imagination and labor, and the little stories of how these things came to be part of our storehouse of knowledge are seen as sub-plots in the grander story of cosmic history that is going on in parallel.
  • Language and Mathematics

    Montessori saw the development of human consciousness as part of the grand story being told. The fourth and fifth Great Stories tell of the most important inventions of the human mind: language (especially writing) and mathematics. Although much of the subsequent academic work of the children in these two areas overlaps with traditional elementary curricula, the manner of presentation, the presence of the unique Montessori materials, and the integration of these topics with the rest of Cosmic Education give the children a completely different experience of them.

    Working in mathematics with concrete, manipulative materials rather than textbooks or workbooks, the children extract arithmetic, geometric, and algebraic facts, functions, and interrelationships. The children render visual expressions of mathematical realities with colored pencils, scissors, glue, and graph paper. Progressing from concrete to abstract at their own rate, the children sustain interest, gain solid understanding, and build confidence in math.

    Nowhere does the Montessori approach of providing developmentally appropriate materials at each stage bear more fruit than in the area of mathematics. Because the children’s early work with the Montessori math manipulative materials gives them such a firm grounding for later abstraction, Upper Elementary students can typically pursue studies of advanced topics not usually offered to elementary children.
    The aesthetic expression of language found in plays, poems, and literature is considered systematically through exercises that advance levels of comprehension and deepen empathy. Through Montessori materials that exhibit qualities and manifest functions, the children are introduced to the logical and rational analysis of language, its structure, form, and grammar. Poetic forms and grammatical structures are offered to the children’s reasoning mind and questing spirit as intellectual pursuits worthy of their hunger for knowledge. By preparing, practicing, and polishing presentations and then taking poems, stories, and reports on tour to other classes around the campus, the children develop natural ease, sophistication, and skill with language as expression and communication.
  • Presenting the Universe to the Child

    Building on her insight into the importance of imagination in the elementary years, Montessori proposed to “present the universe to the child” in the form of an epic story. All elements of the curriculum would then be related to this story of the universe. In practice, this narrative is told as a set of five stories, the Great Stories of Cosmic Education.

    Rather than following the traditional “structure of knowledge” by presenting facts as belonging to biology, zoology, botany, history, geography, physics, chemistry, religion, etc., the Great Stories present a holistic vision of knowledge, drawing on material from the various disciplines as needed.

    Above all, Cosmic Education does not present the universe as random and objectified — as something that has “just happened.” Instead, the Great Stories tell of how each particle, each substance, each species, each event has a purpose and a contribution to make to the development of all others. Montessori also wants the child to understand the debt of gratitude that human beings owe to all other parts of the universe; for without them and their special contributions to the interconnected whole, we could not live.
  • The Broader Goals of Cosmic Education

    Cosmic Education must be understood within the context of Montessori’s overarching vision of human development. Montessori believed that the world was, in fact, a highly purposeful and ordered place – a place where all things worked in harmony to evolve to higher and higher states of consciousness and spiritual perfection. The world of war, ignorance, injustice and economic deprivation was a world that had very seriously deviated from its intended purpose and its normal path of development. Montessori also believed that the way back to a better world was to follow the clues she had found in the development of the child. “The secret of childhood” was that even in a deviated world, children still carried within them the blueprint of normal, healthy development – and that blueprint, amplified by many individuals and projected outward into manifestations of culture, was also a blueprint for a healthy world. 

    Montessori considered two things to be necessary for the creation of a peaceful human being: an awareness of interdependence and a sense of gratitude that comes from it. Throughout the many lessons in the elementary curriculum echoes a message: be grateful to those of previous generations who have faithfully, lovingly, and expertly done their work in the world so that you may have life and the benefit of their knowledge! This looking back in gratitude to all the participants in the drama of cosmic evolution is a subtext that plays constantly in the background of the elementary classroom. In the children’s ongoing experiments with community, gratitude is one of the antidotes to aggression, overweening pride, and ostracism of those different from oneself. Moreover, Montessori is careful not to limit this gratitude to human beings alone, but extends it to all the elements and forces of nature, the plants, the animals (extant and extinct), the rocks, the oceans, the forests – even the molecules and atomic particles. The child who comes to see him/herself as the beneficiary of such cosmic largesse cannot but feel, as an adult, both a rightful sense of importance and purpose as well as a sense of responsibility to find and live joyfully into his/her own vocation. Montessori also believed that human beings were only able to wage modern warfare and cling to outmoded, oppressive forms of government because they failed to understand the economic, cultural, and spiritual interdependence of all peoples – indeed of all things on the planet. 

    Cosmic Education constantly stresses the interconnections between all content areas and, in the study of history and culture, seeks to delve beyond superficial racial and cultural differences to show how all human beings are driven by the same set of Fundamental Needs.

    Montessori saw the second plane as the time to open up the world to the child, and she was determined to do so in a way that did not reproduce the intellectual fragmentation of traditional curricula – the practical consequence of which she believed to be the obscuring of interdependencies and interconnectedness, leading to an inability to truly understand the political and cultural reality of the modern world. Instead, Cosmic Education presents the world as a beloved place, a place where the children, through inspired academic work, also come to appreciate the ongoing story of humanity because they can begin to orient themselves in it.
Austin Montessori School is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex or gender, disability, or age in providing educational services, activities, and programs. Austin Montessori School complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), as amended, which incorporates and expands upon the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended; and any other legally-protected classification or status protected by applicable law.