The Intellectual Period
(ages 9 to 12 years, grades 4–6)
Maria Montessori called this new stage of a child’s formation the Intellectual Period. She wrote that “All other factors…sink into insignificance beside the importance of feeding the hungry intelligence and opening vast fields of knowledge to eager exploration.”
Montessori described children of this age as being on the threshold of reason and emerging into a rich, new world of the abstract. Whereas before they were interested in things, now they will focus mainly with the how and the why. “They are looking for what needs to be done,” she explained. “That is, they are beginning to become aware of the problems of cause and effect.”
Elementary students want to use their newly developing powers of reason to come to their own conclusions. Teachers present ideas, spark motivation and introduce materials that allow the child to access the richness of the world’s knowledge. As students progress, the most senior of them become classroom leaders, continuing a cycle of peer mentoring and cooperation. Students on the Upper Elementary level engage in individual work as well as collaborative activity in both small and larger groups.
The beauty of GMA’s Upper Elementary lies in our warm classroom environment, our personalized approach to education and our low student: teacher ratios. As with all class levels, students find inspiration and encouragement within our walls. The students receive a comprehensive education and are encouraged to embrace their strengths and areas of interest as well as to master key skills in all academic domains. In addition, each sixth grade student conducts a year-long research project (Senior Project) based on an area of interest; each student presents a summary of his or her project to the entire school community at year’s end.
In addition to the Montessori sequence of lessons and materials, Upper Elementary teachers use the “Excellence in Writing” program and the “Voyages in English,” to enrich their Language development. Mathematics, Language Arts, and Cultural Studies (History, Geography, Botany, Zoology, and Physical Science) represent the major areas of study, with Music, Arts, Music, Latin, Bible Study, and Physical Education integrated as important areas of special interest.