“The successive levels of education must conform to the successive personalities of the child.” – Maria Montessori
HUDSON COUNTRY MONTESSORI LOWER ELEMENTARY PROGRAM
Hudson teachers, students, and families partner together to support young learners to cultivate a life-long love of learning. Teachers tailor lessons specific to each student’s interests, abilities, and areas of need to inspire initiative and original thinking. This cultivation of intrinsic motivation takes students beyond the standards of traditional education. Our curriculum is adapted to the growing abilities of students ages 6 – 9 years old. As we encourage young learners to be self-assured, self-starting and self-motivated they become the kind of young people that create strong lifetime friendships with their peers in school.
PASSION DRIVES LEARNING
The curriculum for all learners is tailored to the unique interests each student brings to the community. When learners are engaged with work that interests them, they develop work habits and the self-discipline that will carry them throughout their education and careers. Our innovative approach is similar to the International Baccalaureate approach, where children are taught to explore fewer subjects but in much greater depth.
As students learn to explore their chosen subjects in depth (science, social studies, history), they begin to develop a personal model for learning how to learn. They acquire an understanding of the interconnection between all academic disciplines. As learners explore one passion, they find inspiration to pursue new passions, and ultimately, students have a coherent understanding of how things work and why they work that way.
As the classroom follows a schedule allowing for individualized and group study time, students can focus intensely on their self-chosen work with minimal interruption. While students commit themselves to work that interests them, they become inspired to share these interests with their peers. Unexpected learning occurs, when passions are transferred from one student to another. Teachers and students collaborate to ensure the work is challenging and purposeful. The level of detail that they choose to explore their passions is limited only by their own imagination.
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN A SMALL (EXTENDED FAMILY) SETTING
Our school is made up of a diverse community of individuals, where students are taught in an intimate setting and are given freedom of movement. Working together in large groups, small groups or individually, students form close relationships through their work. Students learn to collaborate, cooperate and to resolve conflicts with their peers in an open classroom but with the guidance of a teacher who is always nearby. They learn to appreciate the cognitive and cultural similarities/differences among their friends and become strong advocates for one another. Students who graduate from our program know that social skill development comes from working with people who look and think differently from you, not from people who look and think just like you.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION & JUSTICE (DEIJ)
Hudson has been a very diverse school since its founding. The school’s founder, a WWII refugee and educator, believed it was essential to teach children to embrace differences among their peers to elevate the expression of humanity in our society. She thought that through education, she could teach children to respect and appreciate differences among their peers/friends and instill habits of kindness to last a lifetime. To that end, we celebrate differences by sharing our family traditions/cultures throughout the year, which makes the traditions more meaningful.
In addition to celebrating cultural differences, we also celebrate differences in thought. Every student/family comes to school with a different point of view on a wide variety of topics. Dr. Montessori believed that sharing ideas with one another would break down the walls of division and that understanding each other’s views was a precursor to peace. All students are encouraged to participate in discussions and celebrations of diversity.
In addition to materials and lessons that reflect diversity in our classrooms, we also teach Spanish language and culture lessons weekly to children two years old and older.
THE GIFTED CHILD
Every child is born with gifts; however, some children are endowed with greater gifts in one or more academic domains. In the Montessori classroom, we allow students to fully express their strengths and develop strong learning skills in their areas of natural ability and interests. Instead of standardizing children and making them equally good at all subjects, we challenge gifted students to excel in their areas of strength while reinforcing a growth mindset in more challenging or less exciting areas. The result is a student who is generally well-rounded and who also has advanced abilities in one or more areas, who loves learning and embraces challenging work.
The Lower Elementary program is a three-year cycle. Like the Primary program, children stay with the same teacher for three years, building lasting relationships and friendships with children of different ages. The multi-age classroom offers a dynamic social setting where children learn from each other, master skills, and become facilitators of learning for their classmates. Our interactive and constructivist learning process stimulates critical thinking, debate, and listening skills. It also builds strong social/emotional skills as students interact in discussion circles. As in the Primary class, the multi-age social structure creates a collaborative and competitive environment. First-year students aspire to be like their older peers while the older peers work to retain their position of prominence as classroom leaders. That natural and family-inspired social dynamic is largely responsible for the student’s high level of commitment to their work and to a learning community that is engaged and enthusiastic.
All students come to school with unique sets of knowledge and experiences. We use the students’ prior knowledge to make connections to new content so that students acquire the habit of using what they know, and what their peers know, to think about concepts that are new to them. Instead of providing answers through lectures, teachers ask probing questions that make students reflect and think. By participating in classroom discussions, and joining in specialized lessons, students work through problems to construct an understanding of the curriculum in a way that is unique to them. They have confidence in their knowledge of content and they understand why it is relevant to their own lives. Students learn to think independently and begin to recognize how their thoughts were formed.
Much of the learning our students do at school is collaborative. Working in large and small groups, teacher-led Q&A sessions introduce new materials by linking new content to work taught in previous lessons and other academic disciplines. The process is highly interactive and requires students to be active participants. Students develop critical thinking and learn to “think on their feet.” This approach to learning prepares students to speak in public, give winning interviews and present themselves as articulate, educated, and engaging people.
A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR LEARNING
Lower Elementary education provides students an introduction to learning that begins with a view from the Cosmos and then zooms in to the individual child’s experience in the classroom. The broad spectrum of human knowledge is introduced through five “Great Lessons.” The Great Lessons are impressionistic, scientific stories that provide context for understanding all the disciplines of academic study and how they relate to one another.
English Language Arts are the foundation for all independent learning. Lower Elementary focuses on reading, writing, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and reading comprehension to prepare students to become independent learners. Since words are the building blocks of thought, language proficiency is essential for high-quality thinking.
There is a limit to how much intense focus a young student can apply to their work. At some point, their brain gets tired, and they need to take a break. Since everyone is focused on their own work, a break usually means walking over to a friend to see what they are working on and talking about what they are doing/learning. By the end of the conversation, each child learns something about the other’s work. Sometimes the conversation inspires a new passion in one or both students; sometimes, it just broadens the knowledge base of both students. In our Lower Elementary classroom, almost everyone knows what everyone else is doing and why they find it so interesting. It is the enthusiasm of students keenly interested in their work that causes learning to be infectious in Montessori’s “open classroom.”
The Lower Elementary schedule has a school year and a summer camp component. Students may enroll in the school year program, the summer program, or both:
- School Year Program: Students enrolled in the school year program commit for the entire school year. The calendar for the school year program loosely follows the Danbury or New Rochelle Public school district calendar.
- Summer Camp Program: Our New Rochelle program offers eight weeks of summer camp, while our Danbury campus offers a 9-week summer program. Students enrolled in the summer camp program can register for as few as two weeks.
- Extended Day/Extended Year: Students enrolled in Hudson’s school or camp program may enroll in our extended day and vacation school programs.
- Year-Round Program: Our Year-Round program offers a preferential tuition rate for students that participate in our school, camp, and extended day/year programs.