Dr. Hans’s Class

Are they ready for what comes next?

When they get this close to graduating, it’s natural to wonder how well prepared your children are for life after Montessori, in and out of the classroom. 

We get a sense of this from talking to recent graduates and alumni. It’s not just a matter of having a leg-up on other students when it comes to academic preparation. MVM graduates tend to be problem solvers, life-long learners who know how to ask questions and how to find answers.

Each will tell you about bringing their own interests upstairs to where their teachers helped them explore ideas all-the-way through to philosophical, social, scientific, economic… and ultimately personal implications. This is no ordinary elementary.

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    Exploring Euclidian Geometry

    Bisecting Line AC 

What’s different about elementary education at Montessori?

Pre-teens and teenagers are full of surprises, of unanswerable questions and blossoming social awareness. At Montessori, even more so. That’s because the Montessori Method doesn’t end with Montessori Materials. Insatiable curiosity leads the Montessori child through a structured environment where he or she builds a personal intellectual and emotional toolkit for whatever challenges life will throw at them.

How do you keep a more advanced curriculum child-directed?

Class begins every day with a genera “group time” conversation which usually begins with current events and ranges into sociology, history, biology and science. Students are encouraged to gather the facts and formulate their own opinions. Besides some spirited conversations, these discussions can inspire topics for personal research and essays.

How does geometry follow the children upstairs?

Downstairs, the children learn geometric shapes by feel. Next they learn the names of shapes, and the golden elements of congruence, similarity, and equivalence. Upstairs after group time, this journey continues with the intuitively appealing axioms of Euclid and using geometry to deduce theorems, one Book at-a-time. At the end of the year, this journey culminates in deriving the trigonometric functions, sine, cosine and tangent. This rock solid foundation will support the exploration of higher math in studies to come.

Do they really read Shakespeare?

Yes! Arguably, if the father of geometry is Euclid, the father of English literature is William Shakespeare. Each year, the class reads through one of the works of Shakespeare, exploring the changing meanings of words, double entendre, social context, political context, and more. Favorites include A Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Twelfth Night. At the end of the year, the students self-cast and act in an abridged video taped production, complete with entertaining outtakes! The students enjoy finding Shakespeare’s stories revisited in books, films, and musicals through history. On certain days, the class also does Latin dictation to build their language foundation.

What does self-directed learning look like upstairs?

Just as the students downstairs can choose which “works” they wish to explore individually, the students upstairs spend individual time working on math, reading, book research, and essays. Just as they do downstairs, students who understand concepts are encouraged to work with students who need guidance. Thus, every student remains responsible for internalizing and maintaining the structured environment that supports personal exploration.

When is the right time to graduate?

The hope is that when a student graduates Monte Vista Montessori, he or she takes along a lifelong love of learning, the ability to question and communicate with adults and the ability to solve problems and find answers. While academically inclined children tend to accelerate through their years upstairs, experience has demonstrated time and time again that a year or two as the “senior” members of the class serve students well when they emerge into the larger social context of high school. For those students who are able to see the process all the way through, social leadership skills round out their mental toolbox and pave the way for leadership in the larger population.

We’re always delighted to hear from alumni and welcome them back with open arms when they return to share their stories

Ready to learn more? Please arrange with Mr. Andreas to visit the elementary class. We look forward to meeting you.


th_dr_hansDr. Hans Laven, Teacher

  • Elementary Students Aged: 9 – 14
  • Team Member Since: 1976
  • Montessori Training Completed: 1979
  • Quote: Montessori training is actually never completed. We are always learning to do better than before. – Dr. Hans