Our Elementary Program
Stonecreek elementary students have the privilege of being taught according to their ability, not their age. The entire classroom is designed with the children’s needs in mind. Only by studying the child can teachers provide appropriate jobs and an environment tailored to the child’s developmental needs. At Stonecreek, we seek to nurture children’s natural desire to learn in order that they will develop to their fullest potential.
Elementary students follow a routine that allows them to have confidence in the rhythm of the day and a sense of control in their environment. Each child has a learning plan to complete during the week, and they are responsible, with encouragement and guidance, to make sure they complete the work. They are given uninterrupted work time to choose the jobs that interest and challenge them. Such ownership of their learning gives them practice setting goals and planning their day. Research reveals these skills are fundamental in developing executive functioning abilities.
The Montessori philosophy also focuses on multiple forms of learning, stressing not only cognitive exercises but tactile and auditory development as well. This is a sensitive period for the child, where she still rapidly absorbs the sights, sounds, and experiences in the world around her. Thus, in addition to their regular classroom routine, each week students have art and music lessons. Spanish is taught daily because elementary children are still in their language acquisition stage of development. Outside time in nature is a critical element of the Montessori philosophy as well, and students have the benefit of an outdoor classroom and nature to explore.
Academic Curriculum and More
Math concepts at Stonecreek are presented in a logical sequence, beginning with the concrete and leading to the abstract. Understanding takes precedence over memorization, which develops through repeated work with the operations. Through student work with the Montessori and other supporting materials, students are introduced to advanced mathematical concepts.
Geometrical concepts that are introduced at the sensorial level in our Primary Program are explored further through the use of Montessori materials. The study of geometric solids, lines, angles, basic shapes, plane figures, polygons, and quadrilaterals form an important foundation for further exploration of geometrical concepts.
Reading groups allow students to choose books of interest to them and discuss various aspects of plot, character development, and surprises. Through introduction to research, students also learn about paraphrasing, applying appropriate grammar and conceptual analysis, as well as developing oral presentations and performances to share their learning.
Science & Cultural Studies including the “Great Lessons”
In our elementary classroom, science and cultural studies are a central part of the students’ learning. Science lessons span the areas of geology, botany, zoology, physical science, and the scientific method. Montessori elementary classrooms also includes the “Great Lessons”: the Coming of the Universe, the Coming of Life, the Coming of Humans, the Coming of Language, and the Coming of Numbers.
The peace curriculum is a central part of Stonecreek education. The focus of the lessons includes problem solving among peers, the cause of conflicts and why some conflicts lead to violence, as well as considering alternative solutions and problem solving techniques.
Maria Montessori called for “going out” to be an integral part of the elementary child’s education. Trips to the Cahaba River, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and Jones Valley Farm are just some of the places we plan to visit over the three-year cycle of the Lower Elementary Program. The 8-9 year old will attend a three-night trip in the spring.
Students bring forth areas of need in the community they are interested in making better. Part of our role as educators is to help our students learn to use their skills to make a difference. It is through experiencing various opportunities to serve others that our students can begin to determine how they want to contribute to society.