Washington Montessori School
New Preston, Connecticut
Explore the challenging and supportive academic environment of our Upper Elementary program.
Children at this age are empowered with increased physical and mental stamina, a greater capacity for abstract thinking and a heightened sensitivity to social issues. They have also mastered reading, writing and other skills, which affords them new reserves of energy for research and thought. Our Upper Elementary program is designed to make the most of this synchronicity with a curriculum that includes immersive experiences, open-ended assignments and an emphasis on the interconnectedness of our world.
Upper Elementary students are encouraged to think for themselves, to explore different methods of problem-solving and to discover connections across areas of study. There is also a growing emphasis on developing real-world skills like time management, conflict resolution and collaboration.
Middle School Program Goals
We encourage the development of self-reliant, capable individuals.
We create a challenging academic program at all levels and competencies.
We inspire a love of learning and help students acquire the tools necessary to learn effectively.
We create a safe, nurturing atmosphere.
We encourage students to celebrate both what they have in common, and what makes each of them unique.
Upper Elementary School Day
Fourth and 5th Years spend much of their day in the classroom engaged in self-directed exploration and learning. Integral to the UE school day is the uninterrupted work cycle, during which students have the freedom to engage in sustained, focused work without interruption. Upper Els are guided by a work plan outlining the upcoming two weeks of assignments and are supported in learning to manage their time independently.
The school day includes opportunities for one on-one-one and small group instruction as well as individual and group work. Lessons in language, literature, poetry, mathematics and geometry, geography, science and history are presented as related parts of a unified whole, and there is emphasis on integrating concepts from multiple disciplines and connecting learning to real-world scenarios. Students demonstrate mastery through daily and long-term assignments, projects and presentations.
There is also opportunity for Upper Elementary students to venture beyond the classroom for their specials and for Spanish class. Throughout the day, students are grouped in as many different ways as possible — by age, ability, interest, need and gender, for example — to encourage socialization and peer teaching as well as to promote greater comfort with diversity of all kinds, tolerance and better negotiation skills.
Regular School Day
Drop-Off at 8:20 AM
The Upper Elementary classrooms open at 8:20 a.m. to allow students time to unpack their things and get ready for the school day which begins at 8:30 a.m..
Morning Work Cycle
Integral to the UE school day is the uninterrupted work cycle, during which students have the freedom to engage in sustained, focused work without interruption.
Recess and Lunch at Noon
Both Upper Elementary classes break at noon to enjoy recess together on the Elementary Playground and adjacent woods. Building and maintaining forts — along with developing the accompanying governments and currencies — is a prefered recess activity for 4th and 5th Years. After recess, the Upper Elementary classes return to their outdoor classrooms, where they enjoy lunch with classmates. Both recess and lunch are held outside unless the weather is unsuitable.
Afternoon Work & Specials
After recess, Upper Els return to the classroom for work and specials. While art, movement and music are integrated into the daily life of our Upper Elementary program, students at this level also have the opportunity to explore these areas in greater depth with dedicated faculty throughout the week.
Dismissal at 3:15 PM
Extended Day Options
Morning Care 7:45—8:20 AM
Once UE students have completed their phase-in cycle and are comfortable with their transition to school, they may be enrolled in Morning Care, which is available Mondays through Fridays regularly and on an as-needed basis if there is space.
After Care 3:15—5 PM
Once UE students have completed their phase-in cycle, they may be enrolled in After Care, which is available Mondays through Fridays regularly and on an as-needed basis if there is space.
Enrichment Offerings 3:15—5 PM
A variety of enrichment courses are offered throughout the year for Upper Elementary students. Enrichment fees vary.
Check Back Soon for Fall 2023 Enrichment Offerings.
Fill out a form and Laura Martin, Assistant Head for Enrollment will be in touch.
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Upper Elementary Special Class
While art, movement and music are integrated into the daily life of our Upper Elementary program, students at this level also have the opportunity to explore these areas with more depth and with dedicated faculty throughout the school day.
Our goal for the Upper Elementary artists is for them to gain further confidence in their own artistic abilities and choices, and to accept mistakes as opportunities for new directions or unexpected ideas. They learn to engage and persist by working on projects for multiple weeks at a time. The elements and principles of art (color, value, shape, texture, etc.) are further explored and they are exposed to the work of a variety of influential artists and art movements from around the world. The children also use some of their time in Art class to collaborate on projects that celebrate the cultures explored in the classroom. The Upper Elementary children split into two smaller groups and attend Art class once a week for 60 minutes.
UE students attend chorus rehearsal once a week, where they practice important ensemble skills such as active listening, singing in unison and harmony, and collaborating with others. Participating in ensembles enables UE students to learn to sing using proper vocal technique, on pitch and with excellent tone quality.
All 4th- and 5th-year students have music class once a week and attend chorus rehearsal every week as well. During class and rehearsal, students are actively engaged in creating, performing and/or responding to music. Students participate in activities such as playing recorder, sight-singing, performing on percussion instruments and the Orff Instrumentarium, singing songs of various cultures and historical periods, performing dances and exploring movement to music, and composing their own pieces.
The Elementary years are a very important time for musical skill development and growth in music and movement awareness. Basic music skills are taught through games, songs and dance as well as specific singing, listening, movement and written exercises. We use Montessori Bells, Tone Bars and musical materials, ORFF and Kodaly sources, the folk songs and dances of America and other countries and classical music of the Western world.
The focus of the PE program is to develop confident, healthy, self-reliant, and fit students. The physical fitness program helps the children learn about their bodies and understand the importance of developing healthy habits. Numerous activities help students develop their endurance, strength, flexibility, and agility. Motor skills are taught in a clear, concise manner, and health and fitness are discussed regularly. Cooperative games help develop social skills associated with being in a group or team setting. Students practice communicating with one another, using positive reinforcement, and contributing to the goal of the team. Sportsmanship helps the students understand the importance of doing one’s personal best. Sports skills are taught through game-related play that gives each child the chance for practice and skill improvement at his, her, or their own pace.
Mindfulness is incorporated into the UE program. Through this practice, students develop tools that strengthen their ability to focus and concentrate, making it easier to make healthy choices in all areas of their lives.
The UE Spanish curriculum builds upon the vocabulary and basic sentence structure the students developed in the Lower Elementary levels. There is an emphasis on conversation and writing, as well as the further understanding of grammar as it applies to the Spanish language. Students continue to build their vocabulary through cultural studies, and gain more confidence as they begin to read and converse in Spanish.
Upper Elementary Signature Experiences
A beloved tradition at WMS, the UE Shakespeare plays not only introduce young students to the literature of the Elizabethan era, but also bolster confidence, flexibility and collaboration. Every year, each UE class performs a Shakespeare play that is as close to the original text as possible. Translations — using a mix of original and modern text — allow the students to develop a better understanding for Shakespeare’s stories. Along with learning lines and staging, UE students get to experience how performing a Shakespearean play differs to that of a modern play.
The UE Overnight takes advantage of the increasingly self-reliant and capable nature of UE students. The UE Overnight is an annual one-night trip to White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, where students take part in a range of education- and service-related activities. An opportunity to interact as a group outside of the classroom setting, this trip builds community, fosters independence and encourages responsibility. Students work together to plan and prepare two group meals, and are asked to take responsibility for packing and keeping track of their own things.
Residency & Cultural Fair
The UE curriculum includes a sustained and in-depth study of one of the world’s ancient cultures that begins with a week-long Residency and culminates in the Cultural Fair. This long-term project develops students’ ability to research and work independently, and refines their written and oral communication skills. Working individually or in pairs, students choose a topic to further research outside of class.
Upper Elementary Cultural Thesis
The UE Cultural Thesis challenges 5th Years to synthesize knowledge from math, geography, culture, science, language and literature. Students are tasked with building an island with a self-sustaining civilization that encompasses all the “Needs of People” learned throughout their Montessori education. The physical characteristics are drawn from each student’s knowledge of geography and the study of world biomes in science. The maps are calculated to scale relative to the longitude and latitude chosen, and the available area on the globe. Written work reflects the geography, daily life, culture and government of the inhabitants along with a fictional “creation myth” or legend indicative of the culture/island.
Community Meetings provide valuable practice for students to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of a community. Taking place in classrooms Lower School and up, Community Meetings help students of all ages recognize and respect differing perspectives, develop the ability to work through problems, and to realize their own significance within a community.
Promoting fellowship and responsibility among a wider range of ages, the Partner Class Program is a long-standing tradition at WMS that enhances the benefits of mixed-age classrooms. The program pairs Lower School classes with Upper Elementary classes and Lower Elementary classes with Middle School classes. The Partner Class program helps establish a sense of community within the different ages of students.