What are the differences between Montessori at the Elementary Levels and the Secondary?
Montessori generally refers to Elementary-aged students as those in the Lower and Upper Elementary classes, ages 6-12 or grades 1-6. Students enrolled in “Secondary” programs are those enrolled in grades 7 through 12 or ages 13-18, with adolescent programs often referring to students in grades 7 and 8, sometimes including grade 9 or roughly ages 13-15.
The rationale behind both the division of classes and the multi-age grouping is based on an understanding that children have different needs during each of these different periods of development.
Included in the different set of needs are the environments and materials. Dr. Montessori recognized that where younger students needed concrete manipulatives to understand, not just learn concepts and that as students reached the 3rd plane of development, their cognitive abilities to think abstractly were vastly different than those of the child in the 1st and 2nd planes of development.
What that really means is that where the children in the earlier Montessori classrooms relied heavily on materials, the older student relies more on the prepared environment that is much more abstract and relies on the opportunities to think abstractly and use their understanding of concepts to analyze and think about solutions and original thoughts.
In short, the child in the 3rd plane still relies on a prepared environment, but rather than a prepared environment, rich with materials on a shelf, rely on a deliberate planned set of experiences and learning opportunities that engage the student’s brain while also preparing opportunities for the child to be actively involved in experiences that expose the child to more and more “adult-like” experiences that allow them to feel value in their work as they transition from childhood to adulthood.
What is expected of students in a Montessori Secondary Program?
At all levels, Montessori aims to develop students’ sense of independence and a sense of personal responsibility. Independence and responsibility includes one’s own personal sense of responsibility and responsibility as a community member, but it also extends to their own academic experience.
As students enter into a Secondary program, Montessori guides aim to support students in developing their own organizational skills and refine their own strengths in successful completion of work both academic and otherwise. Students are asked to reflect on what was successful and what wasn’t in an analytical process that allows them to not only think about what they need and what works best, but also decide what they hope to accomplish as part of their academic journey.