“Education should no longer be mostly imparting knowledge but must take a new path, seeking release of the human potential.” Dr. Maria Montessori
The Joy of Discovery
In our elementary program, children gain a deep understanding of the hows and whys of the world through a discovery-based approach to learning.
The Montessori elementary curriculum guides children toward independence, “with more freedom to go where they need to go rather than where the testing goes,” explains one MMS elementary guide with previous public school experience. “Instead of just checking boxes for a list of standards, a Montessori education helps children to discover and become who they were meant to be.”
Elementary Education at MMS
MMS elementary classes are divided into lower elementary (ages 6 to 9) and upper elementary (ages 9 to 12) groups. MMS currently has two lower elementary and one double upper elementary classroom, each led by a minimum of two trained, experienced Montessori faculty members.
Meet the MMS Elementary Faculty
Our experienced elementary teachers are passionate about inspiring students to explore and fulfill their individual potential through a discovery-based approach to learning. Elementary students connect subjects together in a meaningful or “cosmic” way as they explore the interrelationships that exist among all of the math, language and cultural subjects. (See the Five Great Lessons.)
Lessons are personalized and given at each student’s pace, capitalizing on the student’s particular areas of interest. Hands-on materials are used to clarify abstract ideas. While independent work is encouraged, students also study in small groups or with mentors to help them learn to work cooperatively and to develop strong social skills.
The Montessori elementary curriculum is divided into six subject areas: math, language, history, geography, science and geometry. In-class Spanish instruction, computer classes and a comprehensive arts and physical education program further enrich our elementary curriculum.
Using concrete, semi-concrete and abstract materials, students are given individual and small group lessons in each subject area. Follow-up work is done independently with careful teacher guidance. Teachers conduct daily assessments of each child and plan lessons accordingly.
Based on our 39 years of experience serving more than 1,000 children, students who complete our elementary program are extremely well-prepared to be successful in whatever future educational setting they choose. We invite you to learn more about Montessori outcomes and our alumni.
Sixth Year Project and Traditions
Our popular “Sixth Year Project” is a year-long writing and research project that culminates students’ elementary studies. Learn more about the SYP and other cherished sixth year student traditions here.
Collaboration and Community
All of the aspects of the elementary community are designed to support the strong social and emotional needs of the students. They develop collaborative skills, self-confidence, leadership skills and compassion through their group work. Our teachers are also skilled guides in helping the children to work through conflict, helping them to solve their own issues in a kind and compassionate way.
Twice weekly classes led by native Spanish speaker Maria Kershner-Leon help students develop second language skills and broaden their global awareness.
Community as Classroom
Off campus learning is a major component of the Montessori approach to education. Children at all levels enrich their academic lessons through multi-sensorial learning experiences off campus, including field trips and other interactive activities. These include an annual three-day session at The Mountain Institute at Spruce Knob for upper elementary and middle school students.
To learn more about MMS field trips and off campus learning, please see our Community as Classroom page.
MMS offers a fully-implemented elementary program, with a rich complement of rotating Montessori materials and equipment. We invite you to take a back-to-school photo tour of our four elementary classrooms:
Students are introduced to technology starting in their first year of elementary education. Professionals lead weekly classes in our Apple Lab, where students learn keyboard use, Internet safety, the full Microsoft suite of programs, graphic design and online research skills. Laptops and computers are also available in classrooms to support students’ learning as needed under the guidance of a faculty member.
Character and Community
Weekly classes led by Sky Kershner, director of the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center, and the Rev. Ron English, help students develop communication and interpersonal skills that support positive personal, academic and social relationships and inspire them to become compassionate and socially conscious citizens of our school, community and planet. Students practice the Montessori peace philosophy through grace and courtesy in the classroom and public service and volunteerism. Learn more about our tradition of service on our Montessori Peace Philosophy and Community Engagement page.
Education Customized for Each child
Montessori education meets children where they are. In addition to daily progress assessments by classroom teachers, detailed bi-annual parent/student reports and annual standardized testing, all MMS students receive private academic screenings to align their educational path with their individual needs and interests. Experienced specialists with advanced training work with students on a one-on-one basis to provide additional support as needed. Our Learning Support Team is headed by MMS Co-Director Jennifer Carriger, co-founder of the Appalachian Reading Center and the WV Learning Disabilities Association Teacher of the Year.
Starting in their third year of elementary education, MMS students participate in the Stanford Achievement Test. The “Stanford 10” is a nationally-normed assessment that is considered more comprehensive than most state standardized tests. At MMS, we do not “teach to the test” and standardized testing is not emphasized. However, over the past four decades working with 1,000 children, it has been our experience that MMS students compare very highly with private and public school students across the nation and are extremely well-prepared for other educational settings in the future. For more information about standardized testing at MMS, please contact Co-Directors Jennifer Carriger (firstname.lastname@example.org or Suzanne Sanders, (email@example.com).