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Elementary Academics

Montessori Education for Children Ages 6-12

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Academic exploration at your Elementary child's own pace

The Elementary program at Butler Montessori provides a planned environment and expansive course of study to meet your child’s developmental needs during this crucial phase of considerable intellectual and social growth. Learn why this mom loves Butler Montessori.


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"Butler serves as a village to our family. It models the African proverb, 'It takes a village' by providing the community of people who interact with our two sons in a loving and holistic way so they can grow, safe and healthy on an incredibly beautiful campus, indoors and out. "

Current Parent

Environmental education that engages Elementary students

Our nature-filled 22-acre campus provides the perfect outdoor classroom for our curious Elementary students. Learn how students learn in nature with our Environmental Education program.


How does our Elementary program help children develop compassion, leadership, and independence?

Conflict Resolution

The Montessori classroom supports the child in their development of conflict resolution skills, compassion, and responsibility - responsibility to themselves, as well as to their society and others in their group. Through grace and courtesy lessons, children evaluate and understand their feelings, learn to ask for help, critique each other in a fair and gentle way, and explore tools to resolve social conflicts. In this way, children learn to use their talents and their gifts to help others as well as asking for help when in need. 

Community & Responsibility

In the Elementary, the children are practically begging for more responsibilities and opportunities for independence. We delineate jobs or responsibilities and allow them chances to experience consequences if they shirk their duties. You may hear the adults in your child’s classroom say, “Hmmm… I wonder why all of our plants are dying.” Different jobs range from the botanist, caring for all plants in the classroom as well as the class garden, to the environmentalist, educating their peers about the difference between trash, recyclables, and compostables. 

Outdoor Exploration & Equestrian

Situated on a beautiful, 22-acre campus on the edge of Seneca Creek State Park, Butler Montessori offers students the opportunity to explore, learn, and play in a nature-rich environment. Elementary children take advantage of the outdoor space in many ways, from collecting leaf samples to classify, to jumping rope on the deck, to exploring fauna at the creek, to practicing multiplication in the pavilion. The choices are limitless!

Our Elementary students visit the barn, in small group rotations, for a fun and safe introduction to riding. Children learn the parts of the horse, care for the horse, tacking the horse, and ultimately riding the horse. 

Elementary Academics: Language, Math, Science, Art, Music, PE, Nature & More!

Cosmic Education

The Elementary curriculum, called Cosmic Education, allows the children to explore the subject areas as they experience the interrelatedness of all things to do with the universe and its creation. These subject areas are introduced through the Great Stories.


The Five Great Stories

The five Great Stories are an important and unique group of stories that provide the Elementary children with a “big picture” of life and the world around them. The stories lead children to contemplate the past, discover the present, and imagine the future. At the same time, the children develop an awareness of the natural world and its laws, while also exploring the subject areas such as science, history, geography, math, and language.


 The first Great Story, the Coming of the Universe, proposes a vision of the reality and immensity of the universe and Earth's place within it. This story introduces the elements and the law and order that guides them. Each element plays an important role in our world and their unique combination prepared an environment unlike any other, a world ready for the first living creatures. This story serves as the foundation for astronomy, earth science, chemistry, and physics. In geography, children will explore the three states of matter, the formation of mountains, the relationship between the sun and earth, the solar system, as well as economic geography.


The second Great Story, the Coming of Life, introduces Biology. With the help of the Timeline of Life, this story offers children the framework and opportunity for exploring all life on earth – plants and animals. At the end of the story, we find an environment that has been beautifully prepared for human beings. In botany, children explore the needs of plants, the parts of the plants along with their functions and varieties, and plant classification. Biology topics also include the human body, zoology, and ecology. 


The third Great Story is The Coming of Human Beings. Human beings have many responsibilities on the Earth, just like the plants and other animals. This story reveals the gifts human beings have that separate them from other animals. We have a mind with great intellect and a heart for extraordinary love. We can imagine things that don't exist and love people we’ve never met! Human beings also possess a very special tool – the hand with an opposable thumb – which they have used to accomplish many amazing things. The third story serves as the foundation for history, social studies, and anthropology. Topics include the concept of time, the needs of human beings, ancient civilizations, and the exploration of cultures.


The fourth Great Story, the Story of Communication in Signs, introduces language. With their special gifts and tools, human beings built up a tradition within the environment and altered the environment for their own needs. In order to do this, they needed a language. They needed a way to leave messages over great distances and even through time. They needed a visible language. This story connects history with language and opens up the field of inquiry into language. Children explore the history of language, grammar and syntax, literature, the written language through cursive handwriting, and spoken language through interpretive reading and dramatic productions. 


The fifth and last Great Story, the Story of Numbers, introduces mathematics. A written language wasn’t enough for early human beings. They needed a different language for their measurements and inventions. This story helps the children appreciate the inventiveness of the human mind and its ability to respond to the specific needs of humans as a whole. It also helps them feel grateful to people who have contributed to human knowledge in the past. This story serves as the foundation for arithmetic, geometry, and algebra. Children explore topics such as numeration, operations (addition, subtraction, long multiplication, and long division), squaring and cubing, common fractions and decimal fractions, area and volume, and word problems.

Going Out

To support the Elementary student’s growing intellect and developing personality, Going Outs are included as an essential part of the Montessori curriculum. A Going Out is a small group trip undertaken to further explore an area of academic study. Usually two to three children will plan and organize a trip and arrange for adult supervision and transportation. Going Outs can range from a trip to the zoo to study tigers to visiting the Smithsonian museums to “shadowing” a veterinarian for a day. 


Children in the Elementary are semi-immersed in a six-year Spanish program. Meeting once a week, children explore how to read, write, and speak the language through songs and movement, simple role-plays and dramatic productions, and small group lessons. 

Learn More About Spanish


Throughout the Elementary years, your child will continue to have the opportunity to increase his or her music knowledge under the guidance of our extensively trained Director of the Music and Performing Arts Program. Through the application of  multiple developmentally appropriate european methodologies, the children are engaged in musical games and activities, and learn how to read music, and play ensemble instruments, while also understanding the importance of working together toward a common goal, hence developing  teamwork and coordination.

Learn More About Music


Art is a regular feature of your Elementary child’s life and work in the classroom and becomes another way of acquiring knowledge from a lesson. Beautifully colored timelines and impressionistic charts are essential parts of lesson presentations, drawn by students as a means of absorbing new information. Work is illustrated, as in the Primary, but with more sophisticated drawings, designs and use of color as the students mature from age 6 to 12.

Learn More About Art

Performing Arts

Theater and drama are introduced in the form of simple musical stories. Elementary students are asked to improvise and interpret different roles (role-play). Singing, voice training, voice projection, dramatization and interpretative techniques also become an important part of the curriculum of the older Elementary child.

Highlights of the school year include the music and drama performances during the Winter Festival and the Spring Upper School Musical.

Learn More About Performing Art

Frequently Asked Questions

A Typical Elementary Day

8:45 am: The three hour work period begins. Children are given lessons in small groups during this time or engage in work from previous lessons. Looking around the prepared environment you may see a small group of children practicing long multiplication on the Checkerboard, writing a report about the differences between painted dogs and hyenas in beautiful cursive, baking bread and experimenting with how much flour or how much yeast, embroidering a flower onto a pillow for their beloved pet, or having a snack* and chatting with their friends.

*A hungry child can't focus on lessons so children can choose when to have a snack during the morning session. 

11:45 am: The three hour work period ends. Children put away their work and help to tidy the room 

12:00 pm: Lunch begins. Children help to arrange the tables and set the places.

12:30 pm: Lunch ends. Children help to clean the tables and crumb the floor. 

12:30 pm: Outside Exploration. Children have 22-acres of land on which they play. Depending on the day and weather, with the adults, the children may play on the playground equipment, play soccer on the field, explore the creeks, and so much more. 

1:00 pm: A two hour work period begins. Once a week the children may have Spanish, Art, Music, and/or PE during this time. 

3:15 pm: Student dismissal 

The beauty of the Montessori environment is that teachers have the ability to sense the children's needs and respond to them. 

Although a typical day includes a three hour morning work period (statistically linked to increased focus and concentration), sometimes the children have boundless energy and need an outlet. 

The teacher may decide a hike through the woods would be a better way to start the day or perhaps begin with gardening. 

Many parents come to our school looking for traditional "small class sizes" because they believe a small class size equals more personalized attention.

However, they are surprised when they observe our classrooms to see that a larger group of Montessori children functions much better than a traditional environment.

Here children engage in individual or small group lessons with teachers. They choose their "work" (which never feels like work!) so they're passionate about their lessons and excited to learn every day. 

Although Montessori classroom sizes vary between 17-26 students with an AMI-certified teacher and assistant, it never feels too large. In fact, parents are in awe of the peaceful and meaningful way students engage with each other and the lessons.

On an average day, you'll find a child quietly sitting, absorbed in a math problem. Or you might see the teacher giving a physics lesson to a group of students at the center table.  

 The Montessori approach is child-centered and based on the child’s stages of development.

In a Montessori classroom, children of different ages work independently and together and seek help from the teacher or other students as needed. Working in this manner facilitates peer-to-peer learning, which allows students to deepen their understanding of the material.

…because in real life:

The Montessori method is uniquely suited for preparing students for today’s highly dynamic work environment.

Here’s just one example: The Agile methodology has been widely adopted in leading technology and research enterprises.

The similarities between Montessori and Agile are striking. The Agile Manifesto describes it as “a collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional groups promoting adaptive planning, evolutionary development, and rapid and flexible response to change.” This describes what takes place every day in a Montessori classroom.

How do our teachers compare to traditional teachers? Our teachers receive vigorous training through Association of Montessori International and specialize in a particular age group (ex: ages 6-12 in the Elementary classroom).

This allows them to respond to a child's emotional, social, and academic needs and give them the support and love they need to thrive.

Teachers calmly help children resolve conflicts and model behavior for the children. They are kind and caring and know when a child needs a hug or is having a rough day.

We attract and retain the highest level of teacher because they believe in the Montessori philosophy and the benefits to the children. They love being a part of our close-knit community and support our school's mission.  

Montessori teachers guide children through activities, rather than decide and direct what should or shouldn’t be done. Traditional Elementary teachers follow a curriculum or a set order of each class instead. 

Montessori teachers follow the individual needs and interests of each child, whereas traditional schools set the same tasks for each child regardless of his or her learning capacity.

Montessori lessons are also extremely active and hands-on, encouraging children to solve problems and learn for themselves. On the other hand, more traditional schools mostly teach in a way which means the students to learn more passively by listening, memorizing and repeating information.

Montessori teachers respect and even encourage a child to go at their own pace with each activity. In traditional classrooms, it is often expected that all children will complete each activity at the same pace, or stop doing it if not finished within the time allocated.

YES! If you want a sense of how influential the Montessori method can be, just ask today’s accomplished CEOs, business leaders, innovators, and artists. People such as Larry Page and Sergei Brin (the founders of Google), Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon), Grammy Award-winning artist Taylor Swift, and author Helen Keller all enjoyed an early Montessori education that helped provide them the foundation for their careers.

In many ways, the Montessori classroom mimics the world of work, offering your child practice at developing skills that will serve them well throughout their career.

Your child will be encouraged to develop a sense of teamwork with both older and younger children. And by allowing your child to pursue their education at their own pace, one-on-one, your child can foster the independence, self-discipline, and confidence needed to spearhead work projects, find innovative solutions, and be a leader on their job.

See our Montessori Elementary in action!

Interested in learning more about our Elementary program? Visit our beautiful 22-acre campus for a personalized tour of our award-winning green school programs, organic student-run farm, and our experiential academic learning environments.


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