A student works in the Montessori Fountainhead School elementary classroom.

Elementary Classroom

Academic Goals

When students graduate from a Primary Montessori program, they are ready to work with the more challenging materials that the Elementary classroom provides. We follow the standard American Montessori Society elementary curriculum, which emphasizes language, mathematics and manipulatives. In addition, we guide students towards a thorough understanding of culture, history and the sciences. Through experimentation, research and sensory activities (including music, theater, and cooking), students develop a sense of connection to - and appreciation of - other societies, as well a greater understanding of their own.

Daily Work Plan

At this age, students are ready to begin learning the self-discipline, organization and time-management skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. The key to this process is the daily work plan, which we develop on an individualized basis for each student. Each child receives a daily to-do list that tells them what they are expected to accomplish. They can choose the works and the order in which they are completed, but ultimately they are responsible for accomplishing everything on the list.

Russian Language

We are pleased to offer our students daily Russian instruction by a native speaker. Every day, Mascha has lunch with the children, speaking to them exclusively in Russian, and then assists them with their work for the remainder of the afternoon, still speaking only in Russian. Twice per week, this immersion is supplemented by group lessons on grammar and vocabulary.

Lower Elementary Program

Our program for children aged 6 to 9 is based on the classical Montessori curriculum, encompassing a horizontal approach to education. This means that one topic is discussed in multiple subjects - for example, if we are studying Egypt in the Timeline of Life, we will also talk about how the Egyptians counted in Math, the construction of the Pyramids in History, the evolution of hieroglyphics in Language, and so on.

Our emphasis is on impressionistic and tactile lessons, meaning that students work with physical materials such as metal insets, glass beads, wooden tiles, geometric solids, etc. Math is taught kinetically to abstraction. This means that students begin calculations with physical objects in conjunction with numbers and symbols, and then progress to mental calculations, working exclusively with numbers and symbols.

In every field of study, complex concepts are given a broad view, and taken to a more detailed perspective as the student grows.

Upper Elementary Program

Children aged 9 to 12 are looking for more independence. We respond to this need by allowing the children to schedule their workday and their curriculum, within clear, appropriate boundaries. We emphasize experimentation, technology and increasingly advanced math. During these years, you can expect your child to be developing skills with personal organization, literature, creative writing, algebra and basic geometric theorems.

Due to the complexity of the subjects we are studying, the 9 to 12 class is intentionally kept to a very limited size.

9 to 12 students are required to bring some additional school supplies. Each student needs a USB "flash drive" for computer-based work, and additional materials may necessary as they progress through the program.


A variety of cultural activities are incorporated into the school day. Physical education, art and music classes are held weekly, and Russian language sessions occur daily. Weather permitting, the class makes the easy walk to the main branch of the Charleston County Public Library once per week.

In the spirit of hands-on observation and experimentation, other destinations include the SC Aquarium, local farms, museums, and historic sites.

Parent volunteers act as drivers/chaperones for those field trips which require transportation.


The Montessori Elementary program offers a continuum built on the preschool experience. The environment reflects a new stage of development and offers the following:

Integration of the arts, sciences, geography, history, and language that evokes the native imagination and abstraction of the elementary child.

• Presentation of the formal scientific language of zoology, botany, anthropology, geography, geology, et al., exposing the child to accurate, organized information, and respecting the child's intelligence and interests.

• The use of timelines, pictures, charts, and other visual aids to provide a linguistic and visual overview of the first principles of each discipline.

• Presentation of knowledge as part of a large-scale narrative that includes the origins of the earth, life, human communities and modern history, always in the context of the wholeness of life.

• A mathematics curriculum presented with concrete materials that simultaneously reveal arithmetic, geometric, and algebraic correlations.

• Emphasis on open-ended research and in-depth study, using primary and secondary sources (no textbooks or worksheets), as well as other materials.

• Montessori-trained adults who are enlightened generalists (teachers who are able to integrate the teaching of all subjects, not as isolated disciplines, but as part of a whole intellectual tradition).

• "Going out" to make use of community resources beyond the four walls of the classroom.

As in the preschool, the Montessori materials are a means to an end. They are intended to evoke the imagination, to aid abstraction, to generate a worldview about the human task and purpose. The child works within a philosophical system that encourages exploration of the origins of the universe, the nature of life, human civilization, and any other subject which interests him or her. On a factual basis, interdisciplinary studies combine geological, biological, and anthropological science in the study of natural history and world ecology.

The program is made up of interconnected narratives that together provide the child with an inspiring overview of the universal "Great Lessons." Great Lessons span the history of the universe from the Big Bang theory of the origin of the solar system, earth, and life forms, to the emergence of human cultures and the rise of civilization. Aided by scrupulously accurate charts and timelines, the child's study of detail in reference to the Great Lessons develops in him or her an awe and respect for the totality of knowledge.

Studies are integrated not only in terms of subject matter, but in terms of moral learning as well, resulting in appreciation and respect for life, moral empathy, and a fundamental belief in progress, the contribution of the individual, the universality of the human condition, and the importance of justice.