The Upper Elementary Classroom is a three-year program consisting of a combined class of fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. For most students this class is a continuation of the work they have been doing in the lower elementary classroom. One of the many benefits of working in a small school setting is that the communication between the teachers as well as the everyday contact with the students gives both the teacher and the students a sense of family and consequently a great starting point in the class.
The class is a small group of students that come together as a community of learners to work within a fully prepared Montessori environment. Many days are spent receiving lessons, working with the materials and researching with the resources provided in the classroom. Students are encouraged to follow their own interests and drives and at the same time they are encouraged to go out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves. This balance often provides opportunities for achievement that the children feel genuinely happy about.
There is a strong focus on forming quality working relationships in the class. As it is natural for students of this age to find security within a group setting, Dr. Montessori accounted for this natural tendency by keeping the group a crucial part of the design of the upper elementary curriculum. Students work both in groups and independently. This work develops qualities like honesty, responsibility, friendship, a joy of work, and compassion.
Also, as the children get older, they are ready for the development of quality social relationships within the community. Opportunities are therefore provided for students to go out and extend their work outside the classroom. This allows the child to find her or his place in the community. It gives them a sense of how they fit in to the big picture.
The classroom itself is designed with the materials and resources in particular areas. Math, geometry, language, science, history, geography, music, practical life and art are some of them. To the new student, there are many familiar materials that they will recognize. Some they have been using all along and will now be used in new ways. For example, the same materials used for learning quantity and number in the primary class and for beginning multiplication in the lower elementary class, will now be used to introduce the concept of squaring in the upper elementary class. There are also many new materials and concepts to explore.
Overall, the goal for the students who enter this classroom is that they will continue their Montessori education in a way that ensures opportunities to achieve, be challenged, learn and find happiness in their work.