By Kelly Hale
At the very core of Montessori Elementary is a series of five “Great Lessons”: The Creation of the Universe, The Coming of Life, The Coming of Humans, The Story of Numbers, and The Story of Language. These impressionistic and allegorical lessons are stories that are meant to spark the imagination of the elementary child, and create a sense of wonder about the world and universe around them. Through these five Great Lessons we open the door to all areas for further exploration, follow-up work, and inspiration for Going Out ideas. The Great Lessons are told during the first few weeks of school. Returning children look forward to hearing these stories again and every year they notice more and more details.
The Great Lessons, as well as the rest of the Montessori curriculum, make up what is referred to as “Cosmic Education.” This pedagogy gives the children the opportunity to follow their own interests and figure out their place in the world, while also adhering to the state and national standards. The dynamic environment we create enables the children to experience learning in a safe and exhilarating way. All of the work that we do, both teacher and student directed, helps the children build independence, self-discipline, intellectual awareness, a sense of community, and most importantly, a profound joy of learning that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Maria Montessori referred to the act of learning as “self-construction,” meaning that the child who is actively engaged and interested in a topic of study will embody the information through concentration. This not only results in gratification in the moment, as only the feeling of concentrated work can provide, but what the child experiences in his/her elementary years will appear again (later in life) to reveal its full value. In the Montessori Elementary environment we strive to support the children in the present, as well as sow the seeds of curiosity, empathy, and integrity.