The Elementary Montessori program is a fascinating phase within the development of a child. The program is split into three sections, ages 6 to 9, 9 to 12 and 12 to 14. These three "planes of development," as described and researched by Maria Montessori, each hold a unique part of the development of a child as he or she progresses from a young child to a budding young adult.
The term "Cosmic Education" holds great meaning for this time of a child's life and development within the Montessori classroom. In lower elementary (ages 6 to 9), the children are exposed to Maria Montessori's five "Great Lessons," which discuss the evolutionary approach through which children begin to formulate their own answers to questions that swim through their minds and spirits during these formative years. Using a timeline beginning at the Big Bang theory, the formation of the universe, planets, the beginning of life and the evolution of life into what are now current species, children learn through the telling of stories and their own research the why's and how's of their own lives on this planet.
They explore with equal intensity other subjects including Math, Language, Science, Geography and History, along with "Specials" such as Physical Education, Outdoor Education, Foreign Language, Sewing, Cooking, Fiber Arts, Music, Art and Drama. These subjects, combined with our yearly environmental themes create a beautiful tapestry that is woven within each child and never forgotten.
Upper Elementary children (ages 9 to 12) take their learning into a more independent realm as their plane of development calls for deeper learning experiences into many different subject areas. Not only are academic subjects explored more deeply, but social issues, current events, character building and other important topics that relate to their level of development as budding young adults combine to challenge them to become good citizens and community builders.
Middle School students begin to really question on a much deeper level their place in this world. They try to understand the importance of education in their lives and begin to look toward the future and plan their adult lives. They have a true need to become active in the community and to find their place within it, which is when we allow the students to go out and perform community service that strikes their interests. This is called, "Going Out," in Montessori terms.
Time to research topics of their own interests is given to them in order for them to begin pursuing their passions in life, often leading them to future careers, missions and causes in their lives. As they gain more independence, more responsibility is also offered to them as well.
Two of Miss Deb's dogs, Pheona (aka "Phee") and Ailish, come to class each day and help to make the children comfortable and cozy in their classes, further enabling the children to relax and learn at a greater degree and higher level. Saoirse and Cieran, two rambunctious but friendly shepherd pups who were raised here at FOG with the kids, join them in the playground twice a day for some rollicking fun! They aren't yet ready for the classroom, but as they calm down with age, she hopes to allow them in class one day.