Understanding Elementary

The Child

The second plane of child development, sometimes called middle childhood, begins around age seven and will last until adolescence. 

These are first through sixth graders and for the first time in this child’s life they are experiencing the world with a reasoning mind. In the beginning of this plane the children immerse themselves into the social communities in which they are provided with outside of their homes. Children are looking inward and outward at each new person they meet or situation they experience, evaluating, ranking, and synthesizing the nuances of countless interactions. They are expanding on their world of active participation and purposefully seeking out roles that demonstrate their valued abilities. This can result in strong feelings of belonging, self-reflection, self-awareness, social justice, and empathy; as well as rejection, aggression, maliciousness, and contempt. 

These environmental experiences build the child’s spirit, character, personality, as well as test their will. Maria Montessori says, “The more developed a child is the more obedient are his instruments of motion to his will; and if he experiences the pressure of an outside will he can resist it.” This child does not come to us as a final copy nor will they leave that way. However, the second plane of development is where their moral and ethical foundations truly begin. They are their most malleable of minds. 

With grace and courtesy, we will prepare them as future peacekeepers.

The Environment

In a traditional setting these first through sixth graders would share a classroom with children of their own age and work on specific subject matter during dictated times at individual seats.  This is not what elementary children need.  

Elementary children need space to move, socialize, and purposefully demonstrate their knowledge. They need choices. They need daily responsibilities that provide them with experiences of grace and courtesy as well as for the care of other living things.  They need to prepare food for others. They need space to collaborate with their peers on large projects that take many days to complete, as well as space to work silently and independently on their own inspirations.  They need conflict and resolution. They need the outdoors.  They need practical life and language and art and math and music and geography and botany and zoology and history and they need this work sequenced in way that allows them to return to the beginning when they need to.  They need time for repetition and creativity.  They need patience and deadlines and consequences.  They need opportunities to develop leadership and peer mentoring.  They need to be trusted and loved. 

Through support and observation, the elementary guide prepares the environment so the child can be successful at the expansion of responsibility.

The Elementary Guide

The work of the Montessori Guide is to prepare the environment for the developmental needs of the children they serve. They achieve this through certification, continued professional development, experience, and observation. 

 Maria Montessori was a scientist and doctor before she became an educator and it was through observation that she gave humanity one of its greatest gifts. The elementary guide will use Maria Montessori’s lessons and materials to inspire the child to pursue the acquisition of knowledge and mastery of a skill. The elementary guide will present lessons on all subject areas to all ages of children in the community and meet them where they are with appropriate work and expectations. 

The children’s work will be collected, corrected, and monitored in order to assess the child’s needs and abilities.

Meet the Team in
The Elementary Village

David Chorney

Elementary Guide

David Chorney

My Montessori journey began when I was 24 years old at Denali Montessori in Anchorage, Alaska. It was a five-day substitute teaching job, an infrequent opportunity in the substitute teaching game that ended up lasting eight years. I worked in all four kindergartens, six lower elementary classrooms, six upper elementary classrooms, as well as for the PE teacher, music teacher, art teacher, and librarian. I had never heard of Maria Montessori, however I could see immediately the purpose and passion within each teacher to do this work and the enthusiasm demonstrated by the children while engaged in the pursuit of knowledge.

I graduated from Augustana College in 2003 with English and Sociology degrees as well as earning NCAA, All American Honors playing tailback for the football team. I completed my Montessori training for lower elementary at Seton Montessori in 2015 where I have worked for the last six years as an aide, co-teacher, and PE teacher. I spoke at the 2015 AIMS conference in Chicago and the 2017 AMS conference in San Diego on approaches to Physical Education as well the 2018 AIMS conference with my wife on the benefits of purposeful activities in green spaces. My wife and I welcomed our daughter on June 3, 2017. We enjoy camping, reading, hiking, fires, cycling, and family hammock time.

I believe that Maria Montessori has given humanity one of its greatest gifts. She has provided us with a philosophy grounded in science and a method that honors the child’s social, emotional, and academic growth. My goal as an elementary guide is to create an environment where children can work purposefully towards independence through exploration.