by Maria Burke
I like to think of Montessori education as a tree.
The roots, which support the tree and keep it strong and steady, are concentration, coordination, order, and independence. As these are the basis to the environment, it is important for a child to work towards having this strong basis in order for them to progress through the curriculum. These four traits, along with intrinsic motivation, assist in creating lifelong learners who are inquisitive.
The trunk represents the early childhood curriculum: practical life, sensorial, math, language, cultural, and science. Each of these areas have very specific lessons which the children work through during their three years in this environment.
The boughs represent the lower elementary curriculum. Each of the areas from the early childhood curriculum is expanded to include more in-depth topics. For example, cultural becomes geography and history. Science encompasses botany, zoology, astronomy, physics, and geology, just to name a few. The topics in language begin to include word study, grammar, sentence analysis, writing, and reading. Math is now divided into arithmetic and geometry with specific lessons in each.
The branches represent the upper elementary curriculum. The subject matter studied during these three years delve in deeper for a more thorough look at many of the subjects described above. Research becomes a means for students to learn more about specific topics. For example, as the students work with the Timeline of Civilization, they may be very interested in learning more about specific groups of people: the Mayans, the Aztec, the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Babylons, etc. The possibilities are endless.
The twigs represent the Montessori curriculum beyond upper elementary. As students progress into adolescence, they exhibit more independence and self-direction. They also work more in the community. For more information about adolescence, check out https://www.mariamontessori.
Maria Burke has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in French from the University of Arizona. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Curriculum Education from Lesley University and holds credentials through the American Montessori Society for ages 3-12. She currently homeschools her son and consults with other families who homeschool. Maria also owns Lighthouse Learning, LLC, and she creates uniquely crafted educational materials for academic subjects as well as proprioceptive materials. You can find Maria here: