Upper Elementary

Upper Elementary

Our unique program emphasizes the relationship between the academically challenging material presented in the classroom, and the breadth of experience children have in their lives outside of the classroom. With the knowledge they gain at Council Oak, students are able to understand and delight in both the wondrous world around them and their burgeoning personal identity within—and to succeed in the most challenging high school programs.

We invite you to discover our curriculum principles—the why, what and how that informs our teaching—and to get to know our dedicated, expert teachers. Pick a subject—literature, history, geography, math, science or language arts—and see what your child can expect at Council Oak.

We are confident that our unique program delivers outstanding results.

How We Teach

We raise questions that arouse a child’s interest, and then answer them with real, step-by-step evidence.

Young children—preschoolers and second-graders, say—are inherently curious and eager to learn. By 8th grade, though, this eagerness all too often gives way to cynicism and disengagement. Central to our unique approach to educating children is the goal of kindling the flame of curiosity, so that it grows, not atrophies, as your child advances through our program.

First, we spend time raising a question in the child’s mind—a question that leads each child to be sincerely interested in learning, and that is personally relevant, given his unique context of background knowledge, skills, and interests. The questions come first, the content, second. For example, in math, we puzzle the students by asking them to calculate “5 + 10 × 3”, allowing some to come up with 35 and others with 45 as the answer. They argue about which answer is correct and eventually realize that the answer depends on the order in which one goes through the calculations.

Now the students are puzzled about this issue and are thereby primed to learn a lesson on the rules for stipulating which order of operation is correct. Imagine how much less exciting and interesting it would be if, rather than going through this exercise, the teacher started off the class by simply stating what the rules are regarding the order of operations.

Our answers are always about the world, not words: We offer our students systematic, sequential instruction so they can build knowledge upon knowledge, and always know why they are learning something, and how it ties to the world. This is what makes learning motivating: being able to understand the world! In contrast, memorizing floating constructs such as the process of photosynthesis, without understanding the deeper what and why, turns eager learners into reluctant students. What could be more boring than being asked to memorize “2n CO2 + 2n H2O + photons → 2(CH2O)n + n O2 + 2n A” without being presented with a clear explanation of why the process described by this equation even matters?!

Throughout, we add a personal touch: to engage the child’s interest, we take his full context into account—i.e. his background knowledge, his skill level, his values, and interests. A student who comes to us with a weakness in foundational math will struggle in class, so rather than ignore the problem we offer him dedicated tutoring to remedy his unique skill gaps.

A creative child who loves writing, but lacks organizational skills, will fail in writing class, so we take the extra step of providing her with focused coaching on project planning and time management. A child who has experienced history at another school as dry recitation of dates and figures may not give the subject a chance, so our history teacher puts forth an extra effort in tying the historic events to things that he knows about the child.

We believe in mastery, not just empty grades based on memorization or pattern recognition: to keep knowledge meaningful and fun, we create real application opportunities in each subject all the time. Our students write creative stories with vocabulary words (instead of checking off multiple choice answers by rote); they work through challenging word problems in math (instead of applying a memorized process to solve plain equations). Our students think about the content we want them to remember, and thus make the knowledge their own and retain what they learn.

Throughout, our academic approach takes the student’s personal development into account: we create a prepared environment that facilitates each child’s choice to learn. Because we expect each student to apply himself, to revise his work, to develop organizational and time management skills, and because we emphasize that success is within his control, our approach helps the student to develop a mastery focus and a growth mindset which serves him well throughout his life. Our students aren’t discouraged by a bad performance or a low grade—they persevere, because they have learned that with effort, they can make good things happen.

Learn more about Council Oak Montessori School

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For questions about enrolling at Council Oak Montessori School please request a tour or call us at (708) 926-9720

Parent Testimonials

Council Oak Montessori School