What is Montessori for the 6-12 year-old?

Primary children, typically, can be characterised by their questioning minds, their ability to abstract and imagine, their moral and social orientation and their unlimited energy for research and exploration. They move from the concrete through their own efforts and discovery to the abstract – thus greatly expanding their field of knowledge.

In a research style of learning, elementary children work in small groups on a variety of projects which spark the imagination and engage the intellect. Lessons given by a trained Montessori teacher direct the children toward activities which help them to develop reasoning abilities and learn the arts of life.

Children, at this age, are driven to understand the universe and their place in it and their capacity to assimilate all aspects of culture is boundless. Elementary studies include geography, biology, history, language, mathematics in all its branches, science, music and art. Exploration of each area is encouraged through trips outside the classroom to community resources, such as library, planetarium, botanical garden, science centre, factory, hospital, etc. This inclusive approach to education fosters a feeling of connectedness to all humanity, and encourages their natural desire to make contributions to the world.

The Great Stories (Cosmic Education)

Dr Montessori developed the Great Stories – also known as Cosmic Education – as an introduction to all topics, providing a ‘big picture’ to demonstrate how the sciences, art, history, language, and geography are interrelated. Through the Five Great Stories, children become aware that the universe evolved over billions of years, and that it is based on particular laws that order the ways in which all the plants, animals, and the rest of creation is maintained.

The Five Great Stories are first presented in Junior Primary (6-9 years) using impressionistic lessons and are then presented every year until the end of Senior Primary (9-12 years). Unlike the 3-6 environment, where the child is introduced first to “small” ideas that gradually widen into larger concepts, the primary child is introduced right away to large concepts – the largest of all being the beginning of the universe. With this ‘big picture’ in mind, Junior Primary children have a larger framework on which to hang smaller ideas as they discover them in their independent research.

There are Five Great Stories that are used to paint a broad picture before moving to more specific study:

First Great Story: The Coming of the Universe and the Earth

Second Great Story: The Coming of Life

Third Great Story: The Coming of Man

Fourth Great Story: The Story of Writing

Fifth Great Story: The Story of Numbers

For more, read our recent blog posts on our Junior Primary environment: