Where construction of the social child occurs through the work of
the HANDS and MINDS within the Universe
The curriculum of the Montessori elementary class consists of an adventure sure to excite and amaze any child. Who wouldn’t want to take a journey back in time to the origin of the universe to explore how it all began and then to examine first-hand how life began on earth? These and many other wonders are available to children every day at St. Catherine’s Montessori School through a process called Cosmic Education. Before we speak more of this method, we will describe the child of the second plane of development.
Interdisciplinary, Self-directed learning
As children move from the first plane of development to the second plane at around six years of age, they begin to develop a number of unique characteristics. During this phase, the child becomes more social and assertive, and bonds with his peers. At this time, the reasoning mind develops, and the children spend much time exploring the why of things. They enjoy deepening and broadening their understanding of concepts through group work, listening to stories which help to put the drama of creation into the child’s grasp, and using their imagination to better grasp the complexity of the universe. The conscience begins to develop, and the child is very concerned with the fairness of things. These characteristics are taken into account as the child moves through the elementary classes.
The elementary curriculum provides the child with materials for assistance in understanding abstract concepts. The child moves through the curriculum at a pace that ensures success and confidence. There are work choices that follow presentations which appeal to all learning styles. Group work is very important in the elementary classroom. Children might form small groups to create time lines and charts or to work out a math problem. There is a lively buzz as the children confer and refine their work. Many different kinds of activities take place at the same time as the child is free to choose his or her work. This freedom is tempered with responsibility in that the child is given more freedom as he or she develops self-discipline and an awareness of others’ needs.
Learning in the Community
As the child explores different areas of the curriculum, it becomes important to take advantage of opportunities to move outside the classroom to gain more information. These excursions into the larger environment are known as “going out”. These experiences are initiated by the children and may include many destinations, such as a trip to a local library for more reference materials or a trip to the arboretum to learn more about the plants in the local area.