“The task of educators is immense because human progress and world peace are in their hands”

- Maria Montessori

“The task of educators is immense because human progress and world peace are in their hands”​​

- Maria Montessori

Upper Elementary

Ages: 9-12 years
Grades: 4-6

Upper Elementary

Students in Upper Elementary have reached an exciting time in their lives. They are making the leap to abstract thinking and they are ready for large, challenging research projects. As a result, the upper elementary classroom buzzes with the enthusiasm of students making new discoveries and producing works of remarkable sophistication.

Upper Elementary students will find themselves going out more. “Going out” is the Montessori term for taking field trips into the real world, extending the classroom beyond the physical boundary of its four walls. Going out is an essential part of an authentic Montessori program as they take trips that relate to the curriculum. Examples include sailing on the Spirit of South Carolina, a tai chi class, a walk through Peachtree Rock Preserve, or an overnight trip to Barrier Island Environmental Education Center.

Within our mixed-age classrooms, you’ll find nine, ten, eleven & twelve-year-old students working both individually and collaboratively. In a three-year period, your student will experience being the novice, the apprentice, and the mentor in their community. This allows each student to learn from practicing with and teaching other students.

Upper Elementary Curriculum

For returning Montessori students, the Montessori Upper Elementary curriculum expands upon the learning fostered in the Primary and Lower Elementary programs. For students new to Montessori, it orients them to the joys of responsible participation and teaches them independence, confidence, autonomy, intrinsic motivation, social responsibility, and global citizenship.

Practical Life

Within the Elementary program, the Practical Life curriculum expands from the foundation laid in Early Childhood. Practical Life at the Elementary level shifts from a focus on self-care and fine motor skills, to skills that help children connect with their interests in the outside world, organize their time, and take part in their community.

While self-care and appropriate social interactions continue to be supported, lessons that teach responsibility are the focus. Use of tools, such as work plans, to support organization and time management skills, are incorporated into the daily routine.

Teachers and students often work together to post reminders about assignments, projects, and ideas. Using these, children make independent work choices, prioritize activities, and meet deadlines.


The ideas of number concepts, place value, numerals, and related quantities are reinforced and expanded upon within the Elementary program. Newfound purposes for familiar math materials provide children with the means to consider number concepts, mathematical operations, and more complex functions, helping to expand advanced mathematical knowledge and understanding.


Reading and writing are integral to all subjects in Montessori Elementary, as children express their interests and satisfy their curiosity. Students master conventions with thorough studies of grammar, spelling, and mechanics. They produce final copies with careful penmanship and keyboarding. They read, analyze, think critically, and compare and contrast literature to support personal opinions and perspectives. Using these reading and writing skills, they present ideas through formal and informal presentations.

Cultural Studies

Cultural studies are interdisciplinary and integrate zoology, botany, geography, geology, physical and life sciences, and anthropology. Through these lessons, children explore the interconnectedness of all living things. Additionally, in-depth studies of history, physical and political world geography, civics, economics, peace and justice, the arts, world language, and physical education are introduced.

Science and Social Studies

Interdisciplinary and integrated studies of geology, geography, physical and life sciences, anthropology, and history are built around “Great Lessons,” a series of dramatic stories that explore the origins of the universe, our planet, and the continuous development of human advancement. The laws of physics and chemistry reveal the interdependency of all living things. Beginning with a study of civilization, students explore the contributions of history and what it means to be a responsible citizen and to seek ways to make the world a better, more peaceful place.

Enrichments Programs for Upper Elementary

Along with our American Montessori Society accredited curriculum, we provide your child with unique enrichment activities to further develop their appreciation and understanding of the world around them.

What Your Child Will Learn

  • Choose and plan their own going out experiences
  • Choose and execute large research papers, some of which involve meeting with an “outside expert” and giving an oral presentation
  • Lead the school in most of our charity efforts
  • Responsible for taking out the school trash and recycling bins and bringing them back after they’ve been emptied
  • Choose the topic for their annual play, write the scenes themselves, cast peers and younger elementary students for parts and create the backdrop and props They also make the invitations, programs and signage
  • Attend overnight trips without their parents present
  • Lead lower elementary students in organized activities during recess
  • Have their own school email accounts
  • Peer teaching
  • Making a challenging weekly work plan
  • Answering the class phone
  • Restoring their work and the environment
  • Performing on stage in front of an audience
  • Master a concept or successfully complete or work
  • And many more confidence and competence building interactions
  • Take out (challenging) work as soon as they arrive
  • Trying not to cheat as they are work only to improve themselves
  • Progress through lessons at their own pace
  • Increased self-assessment through a nurturing environment
  • And countless other moments for reflection and internal celebration
  • Engage in a variety of efforts to help others, including multiple charity opportunities for your child to take part in
  • Foster an environment that supports self-identity while being able to see through the lens of other individuals in our global community
  • Learn from guest experts who teach an appreciation for Gullah-Geechee Culture, Ukrainian history, and Jazz music, among a variety of other lessons
  • Experience diverse cultural celebrations such as Diwali, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa
  • Assisting and maintaining the Rosewood Orchard community garden
  • Showing great care for the earth by picking up litter around campaign and the community and recycling and composting
  • Organize a food and dry goods fundraiser with the local food bank, Harvest Hope
  • Brainstorm and define classroom agreements that the clas community agrees on to be the ‘rules’
  • Lead group discussions every morning where classroom issues are discussed
  • And every year new guest experts share their experiences to broaden our students perspectives
  • Arriving on time, prepared and ready to work
  • Strong work ethic
  • Creating weekly work plans
  • Outlining for research papers
  • Recording daily work
  • Numeration
  • Order of operations
  • Fostering independence
  • Organizing work into folders, notebooks and binders
  • Developing fine motor skill and pincer grip through the use of small knobs
  • And everything else an elementary student needs to succeed at the next level
  • Introduction of the timeline of humans
  • Deep study of ancient civilizations
  • Work with pin maps and the land and water forms of the world
  • The periodic table of elements
  • The study of invertebrates
  • Animal dissection
  • Organizes charitable initiatives

Meet The Upper Elementary School Teachers

The role of a Montessori teacher at all levels is to prepare, observe, and facilitate your child’s learning progress.

A Montessori Elementary School teacher is an observer, source of inspiration, role model, and presenter to small groups. They help with social support and conflict resolution, whenever necessary and correct when materials are misused. They are now a vocal collaborator who allows your child to take part in decision-making. It is their privilege to enjoy the beauty in the development of your child while being aware of themselves as the “one who serves” in this process.

Frequently Asked Questions About Montessori

Dr. Montessori first developed her educational approach while working with a preschool population. She gradually extended her approach to children and youth of all ages. Today, some Montessori schools provide all levels of learning, from infant & toddler through the secondary (high school) level. Others offer only certain levels.

The benefits of Montessori, the emphasis on independent learning, for example, and the warm, supportive community, continue to be important at each stage of development as children grow into lifelong learners and responsible citizens of the world.

Dr. Montessori observed that children are more motivated to learn when working on something of their choosing. A Montessori student may choose their focus of learning on any given day, but their decision is limited by the materials and activities, in each area of the curriculum, that their teacher has prepared and presented to them.

Beginning at the elementary level, students typically set learning goals and create personal work plans under their teacher’s guidance.

Montessori schools teach the same basic skills as traditional schools and offer a rigorous academic program. Most of the subject areas are familiar, such as math, science, history, geography, and language, but they are presented through an integrated approach that brings separate strands of the curriculum together.

While studying a map of Africa, for example, students may explore the art, history, and inventions of several African nations. This may lead them to examine ancient Egypt, including hieroglyphs and their place in the history of writing. The study of the pyramids, of course, is a natural bridge to geometry.

This approach to curriculum shows the interrelatedness of all things. It also allows students to become thoroughly immersed in a topic, and gives their curiosity full rein.

Although students are free to work at their own pace, they’re not going it alone. The Montessori teacher closely observes each child and provides materials and activities that advance their learning by building on skills and knowledge already gained. This gentle guidance helps them master the challenge at hand, and protects them from moving on before he’s ready, which is what actually causes children to “fall behind.”

Dr. Montessori realized that children’s play is their work, their effort to master their own bodies and environment, and out of respect, she used the term “work” to describe all their classroom activities. Montessori students work hard, but they don’t experience it as drudgery; rather, it’s an expression of their natural curiosity and desire to learn.

Grades, like other external rewards, have a little lasting effect on a child’s efforts or achievements. The Montessori approach nurtures the motivation that comes from within, kindling the child’s natural desire to learn.

A self-motivated learner also learns to be self-sufficient, without needing reinforcement from outside. In the classroom, of course, the teacher is always available to provide students with guidance and support.

Although most Montessori teachers don’t assign grades, they closely observe each student’s progress and readiness to advance to new lessons. Most schools hold family conferences a few times a year so parents may see their child’s work and hear the teacher’s assessment, and perhaps even their child’s self-assessment.

An advantage of the Montessori approach, including multi-age classrooms with students of varying abilities and interests, is that it allows each child to work at her own pace. Students whose strengths and interests propel them to higher levels of learning can find intellectual challenges without being separated from their peers. The same is true for students who may need extra guidance and support: each can progress through the curriculum at their own comfortable pace, without feeling pressure to “catch up.”

We might note that from a Montessori perspective, every child is considered gifted, each in her way. Every child has their unique strengths, it is all a matter of degree.

There is a small but growing body of well-designed research comparing Montessori students to those in traditional schools. These suggest that in academic subjects, Montessori students perform as well as or better than their non-Montessori peers.

In one study, for example, children who had attended Montessori schools at the preschool and elementary levels earned higher scores in high school on standardized math and science tests. Another study found that the essays of 12-year-old Montessori students were more creative and used more complex sentence structures than those produced by the non-Montessori group.

The research also shows that Montessori students have greater social and behavioral skills. They demonstrate a greater sense of fairness and justice, for example, and are more likely to choose positive responses for dealing with social dilemmas.

By less stringent measures, too, Montessori students seem to do quite well. Most Montessori schools report that their students are typically accepted into the high schools and colleges of their choice. And many successful grads cite their years at Montessori when reflecting on important influences in their life.

Where to Next? Middle School

Montessori School of Columbia’s Adolescent Program is designed, above all, to meet the developmental needs of adolescents between the ages of 12-15 years old. Adolescents have skills and abilities that transcend the negative stereotypes often attributed to them.