Upper 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.


In Upper Elementary, your child learns to balance academic skill-building with her personal long-term projects and to venture more often outside of the classroom for increasingly complex, collaborative, and often service-oriented Practical Life works. Your child participates in “Going Outs,” whole-class or small group trips that are planned and managed entirely by students (in contrast to traditional field trips, where teachers or other adults plan the activities for the whole group). She learns to use tools to navigate or find destinations, calculate costs and arrange funds, book appointments by phone or email, arrange times, dates, and transportation. Through these lessons, she develops a strong sense of independence and self-reliance that informs her approach to every subject.


In Upper Elementary, your student begins to dive deeply into abstract math concepts and theories, bringing with him the visceral awareness—and foundation for genuine and lasting intellectual understanding—he developed in his earlier sensorial experiences. He masters all state and national grade-level standards and more (e.g., ratios and percentages, statistics and probability, geometric calculations, and early algebra). And because he approaches math as a fully integrated aspect of his education, your child enters middle school proficient not only in logical, abstract reasoning but practiced in applying mathematical thinking to solving real-world problems in a wide range of disciplines.


With strong reading and writing skills, your upper elementary student moves on to more advanced language studies. He diagrams sentences, evaluates primary and secondary resources, interprets authorial intent, considers different perspectives, writes critical analyses, crafts multi-paragraph essays, integrates supporting evidence, and accurately applies English language mechanics and styles in many different genres and disciplines.


Your upper elementary student advances toward more meaningful analysis, research, and interpretation. How did ancient civilizations come to be? What role does society play in deciding what’s moral? Why are different behaviors seen as appropriate in different cultures? As he explores these and other critical questions, he acquires new knowledge, skills, and tools—including technological—for collecting information, evaluating sources, organizing and presenting findings, and making sense of his discoveries.


In Upper Elementary, your student begins to master the Scientific Method. He tests hypothesis on electricity and circuits, designs his own model cars, completes in-depth research on endangered species, and educates peers on his research process. He experiments with the physics of simple machines and studies the properties and characteristics of earth materials, the nature of chemical bonds, the laws of electrical currents. He analyzes the scientific breakthroughs that have shaped our world—pulley systems, battery power, electric light, space exploration, and more—building the foundation for his own inventive discoveries.


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.


Beginning in 5th grade, your student can participate in interscholastic sports! MSR fields competitive teams in boys’ and girls’ basketball, co-ed cross country, co-ed golf, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ baseball, and girls’ volleyball. With our new upper school athletic facilities on our Lead Mine Campus, we host home soccer games and cross country tournaments and will soon be hosting home basketball and volleyball competitions in our regulation-sized gym (now in the works!). Beyond the fun of playing and competing, our students learn every time they step into the game. They learn how to set and work toward long-term goals, take smart risks, and handle both wins and losses with grace and good sportsmanship.


As students progress through Elementary School and more instructional time in Spanish, their increasingly robust vocabulary allows for a stronger focus on comprehension, pronunciation, conversation, and even writing. Throughout these years, Spanish lessons frequently align with interdisciplinary studies in Humanities and English language.


In Upper Elementary, students are ready to apply artistic techniques and principles to create more complex and original compositions—in both music and visual arts. Through regular and increasingly sophisticated musical performance and artistic exhibitions, he gains confidence and composure and learns to show proper etiquette and technique. He also learns to recognize different art styles and periods, to analyze and interpret pieces of art, and to form, express, and intelligently defend his own opinions. In our theater program, he will learn to express himself through a broad range of human emotions while developing body awareness and spatial perception. He will use his creativity to collaborate with his peers to produce dramatic works and learn new techniques for performing improvisational skits.