Lower Elementary Areas of Study

In Elementary School, your child solidifies and expands the foundational skills, abilities, and attitudes towards learning upon which all his future academic (and supra-academic) work will build—whatever his school path!


Because your student is naturally fascinated by the interrelationships of things, ideas, and people at this age, MSR first establishes the vast context within which all human knowledge, experiences, and relationships take place. To intrigue and engage the elementary-age student, Maria Montessori developed the five Great Lessons, a framework for academic studies established through epic stories about:

  • the origins of the Universe
  • the inception of life on Earth
  • the development of human life, culture, and accomplishments
  • the history of language
  • the history of numbers

These interconnected stories span the enormous historical framework of time and space, human and animal life, invention, and civilization. They introduce themes of progress and interdependency, and the nature of our universe. They inspire awe and wonder about the ecology of the natural world and development of uniquely human ingenuity. They also build a sense of the importance of making a contribution to the continuing stream of human progress.

The unifying thread of the Great Lessons ensures that the disciplines remain tightly interconnected, so that as he progresses he not only acquires essential mastery in traditional academic subjects, he also comes to understand and interpret that content within a complete and coherent context.

In Elementary School at MSR, your child masters the subject matter and gains a sense of why (and how) it matters.


Your child learns to manage his needs and care for his environment—clean his workspace, mend clothing, read nutrition labels and create simple, healthy meals, sweep, water classroom plants, dust computer tables and polish touchscreens. He learns to balance classroom expectations with his personal interests and meet deadlines for independent work. And he practices conducting himself with grace and courtesy—politely introducing himself, making eye contact to show respectful attention when listening, and graciously refusing an offer or disagreeing with another person.


Your child begins the journey from concrete explorations with math materials to abstract mathematical thinking. Starting from sophisticated Montessori math manipulatives, she learns formation of numbers to the millions, computational skills, estimation and rounding, place value, types and measurement of angles, fractions, among other advancing abstract concepts. And she practices and internalizes these concepts in the context of real-life situations—problem-solving with money, time, distances, and physical space design.


Because elementary students are fascinated by stories, MSR wraps the study of language in the story of how our language came to be—how early humans developed the incredible ability to capture and communicate their thoughts to others. Your child studies the many ways humans have communicated their thoughts and feelings (e.g., pictographs, symbols, hieroglyphs, and early alphabets) to establish the context for fluent reading, clear comprehension, the use of writing for research, logical and creative expression, recognition and correct use of English conventions and mechanics, and also for the simple pleasure of acquiring and sharing knowledge, ideas, and stories.


History comes alive for your child at MSR. Within the context of the great story of life on Earth, she researches specific places or people that fascinate her—the milky way, the Amazon, China, the Ancient Egyptians, Colonial Americans, the Incan Empire—then writes and presents her findings in reports, models, timelines, and other expressions of her learning. Through these studies, she develops an understanding of her place in the whole of human history.


What do all 50,000 species of vertebrates have in common? What is photosynthesis and how does it work? What’s going on deep inside our planet? Why do volcanoes erupt and rivers flow downstream? Through rainwater collection projects, her classroom’s outdoor garden, outings to observe wild botany on our campus, field trips to local museums, and other hands-on science experiments, your student acquires an impressive bank of scientific knowledge, preparing her for independent discovery, research, and experimentation.


Creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, research and information fluency, critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making—your student’s ability to wield technological tools is essential to developing and applying all of these crucial life skills. Lower Elementary students begin with keyboarding and software navigation. By third grade, they’re using a range of programs to create and present project work. In Upper Elementary, students explore the most relevant emerging technologies for collaboration and sharing information, learning not only to navigate and apply new tools but also to evaluate whether and when a digital platform and its content are reliable and useful.


MSR’s PE and Health Education programs provide ample opportunities for your child to not only practice the habits of physical fitness and personal health, but also to take personal responsibility for her own well-being. Through activities in team sports and individual challenges (e.g., soccer, relays, archery, strength and conditioning exercises), she practices teamwork, good sportsmanship, and physical fitness. Through lessons in eating right, expressing emotions, managing stress, and respecting personal boundaries, she learns respectful physical conduct and other habits of healthy living.


¿Que tal? Spanish language study at MSR emphasizes the 5 Cs of the National Standards of Foreign Language: communication, culture, conversation, connections, and comparisons. In two dedicated small-group sessions per week and in multiple whole-group activities, your student builds his vocabulary and masters simple conversation patterns.


Beyond dedicated weekly arts instruction (e.g., music lessons on rhythm, scale patterns, or pitch; art experimentation in drawing, painting, or collage), the arts are an integrated part of every school day. Your child discovers the connection between imaginative works of art and intellectual curiosity. She renders her observations of animal, plant, and earth forms using artistic materials, turns a math equation into a knitting pattern, or incorporates Mayan symbols on a clay vessel. She also comes to understand the arts as a form of personal and cultural expression that she’s not only able to create but to analyze and appreciate. She will participate in group lessons and team building activities to learn cooperation. And she will use role-play to place herself in other context while developing empathy. She will create theatre based on themes from other academic subject areas and recognize the role of theatre, film, television and other media in daily life.