The elementary program is a natural continuation of the philosophy, materials and methods found in the Primary room. Like classrooms for younger children, Elementary classrooms are multi-aged; they include children aged 6 to 12 years old. Montessori Elementary is a program that grows out of respect for the mind of a rapidly developing child. No longer content to have physical independence (achieved in the 3-6 age class), the child now strives for intellectual independence. This is a time of insatiable curiosity and excitement for learning.
Children in the 6-12 age group are starting to realize that the world is an enormous, interesting place. They are primed to study continents, cultures, scientific concepts, and great literature. The world becomes their classroom. The carefully developed elementary curriculum guides the child through identifying, classifying, and researching all of the fascinating concepts in each chosen field of study. The areas of practical life, language, math, geometry, botany, zoology, geography, and history are all represented in the classroom, with materials that lead the child to abstraction of the fundamental concepts in each area.
Children in an elementary classroom begin to keep a record of their work. This can take the form of a journal, a workplan, or chart. In some classrooms, the children draw up contracts where they agree to do certain work during a week or month. The child still has the freedom to choose their own work, as well as choosing to work with another child or in a group. Keeping track of their work helps them make good work choices, and lets the teacher see which presentations have been done and which are still needed.
Maria Montessori summed up the 6-9 classroom thusly: "The elementary child has reached a new level of development. Before he was interested in things: working with his hands, learning their names. Now he is interested mainly in the how and why...the problem of cause and effect." It is now the job of the elementary teacher to provide the child with the materials and information to discover the interconnectedness of the universe. An elementary Montessori classroom is a warm community: a multi-age, stimulating environment with highly trained teachers and materials that invite exploration and research. Children learn to face challenges with confidence, and begin to find their own place in the world around them.