Elementary education in Montessori is the natural continuation of Children’s House.
This is a time of profound psychological change. In the previous stage, the child absorbed from the environment the references that could serve his/her growth. Now that consciousness is more developed, intelligence focuses outwards on the world, and the six year-old child shows a predisposition to inquire into “why things are”.
It is also an important moment for the development of morality, discriminating between good and bad.
The teachers foster this motivation with a prepared environment, rich in materials and activities that respond to their interests.
GIMS is a Bilingual school, in accreditation process by the Middle States Association. Part of the curriculum is taught by english-speaking Montessori teachers.
This begins with the basic principles of the decimal system, odd and even numbers, counting, reading and formation of long numbers.
Progressively, using multisensory materials, the children begin to carry out the first operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Each of the operations can be carried out using different materials, which helps the children attain abstraction, deepening their knowledge and understanding of the meaning of each step they take. In this way, they work with memorizing simple operations and build a relationship with geometry and other curriculum areas in parallel.
Later, fractions and their operations and decimal numbers with simple operations are introduced. The sequence continues on to exponential powers, operations between binomials, trinomials, square roots and cubes.
The measurement systems of different magnitudes are presented progressively throughout the course, and understandings are developed by children applying the concepts through practical application.
In this section of mathematics, many approaches to other areas of the curriculum are touched upon: arithmetic, language, history, etc.
The presentation begins with an introduction to two-dimensional geometric shapes, both regular and irregular. The relationship between dimensions, proportions and parts of each figure are observed, as well as etymological references to their names. Wooden figures are used initially and the children draw on paper or build their own geometric figures or compositions.
Later, constructive and composite capabilities are worked upon by using triangular templates, designed to allow the children to arrive at their own conclusions about geometric relationships such as the Pythagorean theorem.
Metal templates are used to help understand the relationship between areas, heights, apothems and lengths of regular polygons. Circles are examined, length of circumferences, areas and the relationship between circles.
Towards the end of the primary stage, work is done with areas and volumes. Geometric solid shapes, their elaboration on a drawing and proportional relationships are examined.
The objective proposed by Maria Montessori is that the children reach what she called “total reading”, which means that they are capable of thoroughly understanding and getting excited by what they are reading, analyze the language and be inspired to read.
As the children progress with reading and writing, they carry out tasks involving producing texts and are presented with grammar functions. Each word has a function and the children learn to classify them with presentations which reveal these functions. Also, grammatical analysis can be done through use of hands-on materials.
After attaining a solid grasp of grammar, syntax and morpho-syntax are presented, alongside word classification according to grammar function. This includes typology of verbs, nouns, adjectives, articles, pronouns etc. Compound words, suffixes and prefixes are also examined.
Towards the end of the primary stage, the children will be able to analyze different types of texts: tales, humorous works, detective stories, etc., as well as writing summaries, descriptions or creating their own works. They will also be prepared to interpret texts.
History is the starting point of all academic activity for the students. With the first Great Lesson, in which the formation of the known Universe is presented, demonstrations of Physics and Chemistry are given.
The aim is for the children to find their place in the world, give Space and Time dimension, value and appreciate the processes that preceded us and feel empowered to contribute to society from a creative and constructive standpoint. From this knowledge of History, motives for interest in all other areas are born.
After presenting the Big Bang and the first Great Lesson, activities involving measuring time are presented. Geological History is alternated with Paleoanthropology, until reaching local Human History. Biological evolution leads on to Biology and geological evolution leads on to Geography.
Once Human History is presented, a lot of work centers on how the basic human needs shape historical and cultural processes. Comparative studies of different civilizations and their customs and way of life are undertaken. These civilizations are placed geographically and temporally on a map of civilizations.
Finally, migration is presented. At first, an abstract approach is taken; however this gives way to references to the movement of people around the planet, their motives and interaction between cultures and ethnic groups.
History is constantly connected to Mathematics (measurement of time), Biology (biological history and basic needs of living beings), Geography (formation of the Earth, erosion and relief, climate phenomena, human geography, etc.).
Biology, like History, has its own Great Lesson. In this Lesson there is an illustration showing the most representative species on the planet throughout the different geological periods, and those that have survived to the present.
Human beings are given special emphasis.In the first presentations, the type of plants and animals are introduced, observing their basic needs, habitat, reproduction, their use by humans, etc.
These presentations are connected with reading and writing, using riddles and increasing vocabulary.
Later, parts of plants and animals are studied. Taxonomic classifications and comparative studies of the main animal and plant groups are also undertaken.
All of these works are preceded by direct contact with the plant to be studied. If possible, insects (alive or dead) or organs are seen. Cards are used to aid in the naming of the parts of these living organisms.
The children are given the opportunity to carry out numerous botanical experiments, help to look after a school vegetable garden and care for domestic animals (such as the fish).
Throughout the Biology course in primary, etymological references and rigorous vocabulary are used to name all of the elements studied.
Sensory globes, planisphere puzzles, continent puzzles, world flag maps and geographical relief maps are used to begin the study of geography.
The world of dynamic geography is studied later. The first tasks of this section refer to the Earth in relation to the Sun (distances, solar radiation, seasons, movements of the Earth, day and night, etc.).
Later, numerous experiments and demonstrations about the states of matter and the behavior of different materials when subjected to temperature change, pressure, etc. are carried out. In this way, reference to geographical phenomena is made, including processes connected to the Earth and its crust as well as the laws of gravity and inertia.After the above topics, the children begin to study meteorology and erosion produced by air, water and ice.
Finally, human geography, organizational systems of complex societies, productive interdependence, taxes, etc. are introduced and studied.
The following areas of the curriculum are proposed by GIMS itself, given that they are not developed specifically by Montessori teaching methodology.
At GIMS, Technology is viewed as a central feature of present-day life, but young children are seen to benefit more from direct experience of their sensory environments.
When children reach the second phase of the Elementary school, they will begin to learn how to use a computer to do research and to communicate with others.
The playground equipment and layout has been carefully studied to fulfill the physical and social needs of children between the ages of 3 and 12 years, in accordance with Montessori philosophy.
In addition to the daily scheduled outside play time in the playground, children in the primary school have 2 lessons per week when they learn about how to maintain a healthy body, as well as learning specific physical skills and cooperative group games.
BIODANZA, ARTS AND DRAMA
One day a week the children enjoy a Biodanza session given by Marcelo Toro, director of the Biodanza school in Granada. In addition, one day a week they also have a plastic arts class and another drama class.