Because Montessori education is individualized, students move to the upper elementary level when they have mastered defined cognitive, physical, and social skills and are prepared to succeed at that level.
Mon & Wed & Fri : 3 p.m. dismissal
Tue & Thu : 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
CVMS has three lower elementary classes, each with a maximum of twenty students and generally fewer. Each class is staffed by one teacher and one assistant.
As in all our classrooms, at the lower elementary level we group students in multi-age classes where teachers serve as facilitators for individualized, self-paced learning. Students stay with the same teacher for three years, or until they have mastered all the cognitive and social skills required to move to the upper elementary program.
All of our upper elementary students meet together in a uniquely designed, two-story multi-age classroom with a team of three Montessori-certified teachers and one assistant. Each student has a designated teacher-advisor who meets with them daily and tracks their individual progress, but all three teachers share joint responsibility for giving lessons in the Montessori curriculum.
At this level, the curriculum expands to include more sophisticated research and writing, mathematical reasoning and geometric proofs, experimentation and problem-solving in the sciences, analysis of language and literature, and a wider understanding of cultures and civilizations. Students build on their knowledge of Spanish with more emphasis on verb conjugations and conversational skills. Music instruction focuses on increasing understanding of the elements of melody, rhythm, harmony, and style. Students can take individual music lessons as well as participate in band, jazz band, and chorus. Art and art history are taught as part of the Montessori cultural curriculum. The upper elementary physical education program promotes motor skills, cooperative learning, and fitness for life through games, dancing, and team sports. Fourth graders receive six weeks of swimming instruction.
Rich Learning Experiences
Hands-on experiences continue to be the foundation for new learning for even the oldest students, but imagination and abstract thinking play a growing role in their education. Each year the upper elementary students treat visitors to the fall Open House to a dramatic interpretation of a historical period, creating elaborate sets, costumes, and dialogue. Students develop reading and writing skills throught particiaption in small, flexible literature circles, a wide range of writing projects and competitions, and an instructional-level spelling program, with the option to participate in weekly practice sessions for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. They also take part in the National Geography Bee and the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. Sixth graders write a 15-20 page research paper on a topic of their choice, then give a PowerPoint presentation of their “Expert Project” to family, friends and the CVMS community.
Upper elementary students have short-term follow-up assignments and long-term research and projects outside of class. They log their work in their planners and make daily decisions on how best to meet their deadlines, as they learn to set priorities and budget time.
Life Skills and Service
As they approach adolescence, students become increasingly social. They learn to manage peer relationships by sharing decision-making and problem-solving, by organizing and running class activities, and by participating in service to the school and community. Each upper elementary student spends approximately two-and-a-half hours per month helping younger CVMS students. They hold regular bake sales and manage other fundraising events to benefit class trips and help organizations like the local SPCA. Fifth and sixth graders end their school year with a three-day trip to the Albany-Cooperstown area or a Catskill environmental camp, while fourth graders participate in local trips and activities. Sixth graders manage a class store and designate a “Legacy Project” that incorporates service to the school or the wider community.
For more detailed information, please see our parent handbook.