Over the last seven and a half years, I have been asked the question: How do you know where each child is academically? How do you teach to each child successfully?
The elementary curriculum is not broken down year by year, because the Montessori elementary classroom has the freedom to follow the passions of the students as they become apparent to me and to them. This does not mean that there is no required content. The children are required to do spelling words in their dictionaries and math problems everyday (older children are tested on this material on weekly quizzes and practice math and language in weekly homework), and throughout the day they must choose a science, language, and cultural material on their own. They are also encouraged to work on their year-long Going Out projects or choose music, art, geometry, reading, or grace and courtesy work, such as cleaning a certain area on the classroom. They have projects they are continually working on, and I encourage them to complete them throughout the week. I pay attention to lessons I give every day and record them electronically, and I also pay attention to what the children choose to work on and record that as well. I examine how well they improve and eventually master various subject matter in the classroom.
The required content that the children need to learn over their six years in the elementary can be learned at a time and manner that is most interesting to the children, which promotes the deepest learning. For example, when fraction addition with different denominators is presented, the children may be particularly inspired by the work at that time. When this is the case, they will pursue the knowledge with fervor. As a result they will acquire a great deal of knowledge on fractions. If their response to it is mediocre, I may present a minimum amount, and come back to it again later. Some parents may wonder why we do not follow a daily set curriculum, because as adults it makes perfect sense to us to do this. Actually, it is very mind-numbing and disheartening for the children; they fall into rote memorization and habitual learning. Instead, we want them to increase their amazing and essential love of learning, become independent and creative thinkers, and grow into responsible and respectful young adults who can handle the challenges life gives them. The Montessori elementary class allows them to do this!