At around the age of six, the child’s mind begins to expand beyond the walls of the Casa Dei Bambini. Although they no longer learn by absorbing everything they see and hear around them, they develop new powers to actively and consciously explore their world - the imagination and the reasoning mind. The combined power of these two mental faculties is so potent that virtually any concept or system – no matter how difficult or abstract – can be presented in such a way that they can begin integrating this knowledge.
The focus for Montessori teachers is to assist the child in understanding the interconnectedness of ideas by learning about all subjects from many directions, through all disciplines, and in the context of time. Ideas are presented in a Montessori Elementary classroom beginning at the broadest possible scale, then the children fill in the structure of knowledge by zooming into more specific topics. Time lines, charts and experiments inspire systematic research and understanding of broad areas of learning. Ideas are never presented in isolation, but always as part of a larger context. Since the Elementary aged child is now obsessed with social interaction, much of the activity now takes place in small groups, with children sharing, collaborating and exploring material together. The buzz of debate, discussion - and disagreement - fill the Elementary years classroom.
The Montessori elementary curriculum continues to be introduced in a three-year cycle, which has been shown to maximise the differentiation of learning, and ensures the optimum balance of academic challenge and modeling by older peers. This language-rich, multi-ability classroom is ideally suited to motivating children to learn. By learning to direct their own learning by making their own good choices, students are able to connect their understandings to a real life context, which researchers have now shown leads to deeper understandings and engagement with learning. The aim is to “make learning real” and develop a love of learning in our students.
In the Lower Elementary classroom, children are already confident readers, and are beginning to write independently. Materials are presented to expand their imagination and maximise their motivation to read and write more.
The environment is rich with resources close at hand within the classroom, and children are encouraged to plan “Going Out” activities to nurture independent exploration and discovery.
As the children receive many follow up lessons in Earth Science, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, the Lower Primary Chinese Teachers provide Chinese language extension in order to support and encourage the child’s ability to communicate about these fascinating principles in fluent Mandarin.
The Upper Elementary Programme at IMS provides an increasingly more abstract environment in which research projects and collaborative learning are driven and organised by the students themselves.
Students are expected to collect and organise data from a broad range of sources, from both within and outside of the classroom, and to learn how to negotiate intangible resources such as information, time, and teamwork, within the confines of kindness and respect. Students gain an increasing level of participation in planning for overall School events, with student leaders taking responsibility for planning and running the assemblies, helping other children in the school, and inputting to overall student well being.
The Upper Primary student investigates how human beings are profoundly connected to the world around them, which leads to investigation of economic and cultural geography. Learning becomes deeper and more integrated, and concepts more complex. Chinese Teachers support these increasingly complex concepts by providing more detailed vocabulary and additional Chinese language lessons on Earth Sciences.