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Program Overview

Toddler | 15 months to 3 years

A homelike environment structured for our youngest students forms a welcoming transition from home to school. Toddlers build independence and forge warm, caring relationships with their teachers and one another. Hands-on activities, movement, music, and circle time lay the foundation for reading, writing, mathematics, future learning, and discovery.

Rapidly developing, constantly exploring, determined to do things independently — toddlers learn by working with materials that develop their brain through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement.

Our five-day Toddler program lays the foundation for a sense of school community. The same group of children come together each day, learning from one another, and deepening relationships that will continue throughout their time at Riverbend. Every element in the design of the Children’s House learning environment empowers young children to dive right in, using all their senses to follow their emerging and evolving interests.

At Riverbend, toddlers have myriad opportunities in the classroom and in nature to explore, engage, and master tasks to reach key milestones in their cognitive, physical, and social/emotional development:

  • Practical Life builds independence through a focus on caring for self, others, and our environment.
  • Mathematics moves from concrete to abstract, using manipulatives to understand quantity, patterns, and shapes.
  • Language integrates rich pre-reading and pre-writing resources and activities throughout each day. Spanish language is introduced.
  • Special Classes in Music, Nature, Physical Education, and Spanish are offered weekly.

Primary | 3 to 6 years

Learning becomes more focused as children refine observational skills and master fundamental components of reading, writing, and mathematics. The exploration of the world expands to include other countries, cultures, and the Spanish language. “Using hands as tools for the mind” children explore the natural world, strengthening independence and confidence.

This is a period of rapid development. Children are fascinated by the world around them, and their learning experiences here lay the foundation for future academic success.

Primary classrooms are organized to encourage both the youngest child’s interest in concrete manipulative materials and the older child’s increasing understanding of abstract concepts. Older children build confidence by helping their younger friends succeed at tasks they have completed themselves.

The Primary Program Includes:

  • Practical Life activities build confidence and independence through the development of self-care skills, concentration, coordination, and a sense of order—all for later learning.
  • Sensorial, hands-on materials that engage all of the senses initiate critical thinking skills, preparing students for future challenges in mathematics, science, and language.
  • Language nurtures a love of language with manipulatives that build a deep understanding of the fundamental components of reading/writing. The environment is infused with books and a spirit of individual expression.
  • Geography & Cultural Studies capture the curiosity of students excited to explore their world.
  • Mathematics – from simple to complex, concrete to abstract, unique Montessori materials engage children in learning fundamental concepts that prepare them to approach learning with a mathematical mind.
  • Science provides new tools and opens children to a new way of looking at the world around them.
  • Special Classes in Music, Nature, PE and Spanish are offered weekly.

Spotlight: Primary Math

Elementary | Grades 1 to 6

Students find their own pace of learning and challenge themselves in small-group lessons shaped to align with their individual needs, and can access curriculum beyond their grade level—concrete explorations lay the foundation for abstract learning. Each year, students take on greater responsibility, independence, and discover opportunities for leadership.

Parents of elementary-age children are very familiar with the ubiquitous question “Why?,” as children begin a lifelong quest to discover the interconnectedness of the universe, fueled by limitless curiosity.

❝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

Lower Elementary

Our Lower Elementary program (grades 1 to 3) seeks to balance the child’s developing imagination with concrete skills learned through hands-on exploration. Montessori materials are exceptionally logical and beautifully constructed, enticing the children to want more, to learn more, and to achieve “flow” as they reach deeper and deeper levels of concentration. Our teachers carefully observe and track each child’s progress, and add levels of difficulty to the work with each new success they’ve witnessed. The Lower Elementary program creates students who are willing to take intellectual risks and have the resiliency needed for the challenging pursuits of Upper Elementary.

Dr. Montessori’s “Great Lessons” are the cornerstone lessons of our Lower Elementary classrooms. They include: The Story of the Universe, The Coming of Life, The Coming of Humans, The Story of Language, and The Story of Numbers. Stories, charts, experiments, and the arts form a narrative of human civilization through time—shaping a global vision and developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and research skills.

Spotlight: Lower Elementary Math

Upper Elementary

In the Upper Elementary (grades 4 to 6) students focus on building greater independence and responsibility as they begin to think more abstractly and explore more complex ideas. Teachers encourage students to make cross-curricular connections and to seek ever expanding academic challenges. At this level, students truly refine their time management skills as they are offered “freedom with responsibility.”

While students continue to explore concepts using concrete materials, technology begins to play a larger role, enhancing abstract learning and providing new pathways for student expression.

Spotlight: Upper Elementary Math

Middle School | Grades 7 to 8

A small, engaged community balances the rigorous academic expectations we hold for our campus leaders. Middle schoolers feel safe to explore their interests and push themselves to ever-higher levels of academic achievement as they prepare for high school and establish learning habits and confidence that will serve them well in college and life.

In Middle School, students take on increasing levels of responsibility and independence as they build the academic, social, and emotional skills essential for the challenges of high school and college.

Our cross-disciplinary curriculum nurtures essential skills for academic success, including the ability to work both independently and collaboratively, to organize one’s work and time, to craft research into meaningful projects, to communicate effectively, and to think globally. Students strengthen their ability to:

  • Speak, listen, write formats, and to read with purpose and understanding through Language Arts.
  • Solve problems with Mathematics, through a deep dive into the fundamentals and applications of algebra.
  • Explore broad questions through research and philosophical discussion in History & Social Studies.
  • Utilize techniques and concepts of chemistry, physics, and biology in hands-on Science investigations.

Standardized testing at Riverbend is a diagnostic tool for teachers and provides students with essential test-taking skills for life. Grades 4–8 participate in CTP4 testing each fall.

Spotlight: Middle School Math

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