At about 6 years old, the child enters the second plane of development, moving from the absorbent mind of the first plane of development to the reasoning mind. The materials in the Elementary Montessori classroom reflect this growth in development.
It is during this phase that children develop logical thinking skills. In contrast to the phase of the absorbent mind, where learning seemed to happen nearly automatically through exposure and experience, the reasoning mind needs to think and consciously study in order to experience the learning process. In the first plane, the children strive for physical independence, the children in the second plane now strive for intellectual independence, as well as the formation of moral sense and social organization.
Dr. Montessori identified three developmental drives in the elementary years. First, the child develops an insatiable appetite for facts; she referred to this stage as “the age of Intellect.” Second, the child enters a period of moral formation, at which point the child begins to ask questions about right and wrong. Third, the child’s imagination becomes his or her most powerful learning tool.
To meet the second plane child’s needs, topics are presented as general overarching stories into which the students delve for the details.
The Atrium of the Elementary classroom expands on the themes of the Primary, studying Liturgy and Scripture, the geography of Israel, moral parables, and maxims, and includes Sacrament Preparation.
The topics for study in the Elementary classroom are
Mathematics (including Geometry)
Language Arts (Composition, Reading, Spelling, Vocabulary, Research skills)
Science (Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, and Physical Science)
History (Study of time and chronological events)
Geography (Physical and Political)
Latin (For 3rd grade and above)
“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim therefore is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his inmost core.” (Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential)