Academics: Elementary Program
The program is designed to foster a sense of responsibility within the student, not only in their involvement within the program itself, but also in their day-to-day interactions outside the school environment. The overall goal of the Elementary program is to develop autonomous, competent, and adaptive individuals who are capable of solving complex problems, independent of external assistance.
If applicants to the Elementary program are new to AMS, a copy of the child’s latest report card is required. New students may be admitted at any time during the school year pending the availability of space in the program. An interview with the principal is then conducted and an entrance test is administered for levels 3 to 8.
Our Elementary students are expected to work to the best of their abilities so that they may develop to their highest academic and personal potential. Various instructional methods will be used to encourage the student’s learning. Decisions regarding methods will be based upon the individual needs of the child. High achievement is the goal for all of our students. Thus, our community of teachers, parents, and students work together in the best interests of the child.
The ideal Elementary program applicant will have had a Casa background prior to enrolment in the Elementary program. Six-year-old students, who have attended a Montessori program for at least three years, have the advantage of knowing how to read and write, count, add, subtract, multiply and divide, and have also developed an interest in Science, Geography, and History. In special circumstances, consideration will be given to those students who have not completed the full three years in a reputable Casa Montessori program but exhibit an enthusiasm for learning and a willingness to accept instruction. These characteristics are identified by means of a consultation conducted by the school’s principal or the admissions secretary.
The “practical life” skills acquired by students at the Casa level often translate into the child developing a keen interest toward exploration, either through reading or active involvement in the school and all it has to offer.
According to Maria Montessori, a six-year-old child has moved from the stage of the ‘absorbent mind’ to the second plane of development. This stage is characterized by the need for increasing independence, the development of the concepts of justice and morality, the need to establish and define a social identity, and the use of the imagination as a tool for understanding the universe, humanity and the history of both.
Maria Montessori developed a program to ensure that the children could see and understand how interconnected and interdependent all living things are. Alison Gobnik, a cognitive scientist and U.S. scholar, states that people learn best by effectively interacting with their environment, not merely by memorizing disconnected facts. Human beings are hardwired to learn by doing. The curriculum Maria Montessori designed was a model for an interconnected and integrated curriculum. The mind thinks with ideas not with information. Educating children is to teach young minds how to deal with ideas and how to adapt them to new ones. The skill of the teacher is to ask the right questions so that the student is able to investigate, experiment and find answers to make the connections.
A famous lecturer from Cambridge University, who has written a number of books on mathematics, identified with Montessori’s philosophy because it teaches students to “visualize mathematics”. Scholars believe that students should start with the materials. Thus, children obtain a firm grasp of concepts if given the time to experiment and observe. Nonetheless, very interesting arguments arise from the errors made. Maria Montessori’s main idea is that children should be able to use the materials with success, so that it builds their confidence. As such, the materials should call out the child’s own powers of discovery and reasoning.
Montessori often introduces a particular subject through a “Great Lesson”. Experiments, demonstrations, impressionistic and realistic charts are all used to give the child a general understanding of what they are going to be studying. There are also smaller group lessons and individual research projects to further examine the elements and topics introduced in the Great Lessons. Montessori created a ‘Cosmic Curriculum’ through which the child develops an understanding and appreciation of everything that has occurred in order for the world to exist in its present state.
Our Senior students in Grades 5 and 6 are provided with an enriched environment which offers unique opportunities for learning. Each student will have the advantage of being taught the core curricula by the homeroom teachers, enjoying and benefiting academically from each teacher’s area of expertise. AMS views these students as being role models whose actions influence the behaviours of their younger colleagues. Thus, Elementary students at AMS are given specialized resources and care and subsequently exhibit leadership qualities seldom witnessed in similar school environments.
With their leadership and critical thinking skills now developed, students in Grades 7 and 8 go on to benefit from AMS’s rich and comprehensive standards based Middle School program. Children in this program are aptly prepared for the demands placed on them at the high school and university levels. Our alumni, the oldest of who are now approaching their 30’s, are among some of the most respected members of society. We are, and always will be, very proud of our Middle School graduates.