We inspire and guide children to love learning, to love one another, and to love the world around them.

Elementary Program

The Elementary Program

MSNV’s Elementary Program spans 1st-6th grades, encompassing both the Lower and Upper Elementary levels. Students entering Lower Elementary (1st-3rd grade) are ready for new challenges. They are poised to pursue their passions and delve into their interests. With teacher guidance, these students begin to take greater responsibility for their educational journey. As students enter Upper Elementary (4th-6th grade) they recognize their interests, strengths and challenges. Because they are now prepared to take ownership of their goals, the Montessori approach for this age group allows for increased independence and leadership. Students develop a high-level of maturity and exceptional cooperative and communicative skills. They leave this program well-prepared to navigate social, emotional and academic challenges that may lay ahead.

Elementary At a Glance

List of 4 items.

  • Location

    Hillbrook, 6820 Pacific Lane, Annandale, VA
  • Time

    Lower Elementary: 8:10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.
    Upper Elementary: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Grades

    Lower Elementary: 1st-3rd Grades
    Upper Elementary:
    4th-6th Grades
  • Tuition

    $21,200 (SY24-25)

Lower Elementary Teachers

List of 8 members.

  • Photo of Alyssa Ferguson

    Alyssa Ferguson 

    Elementary Teacher
  • Photo of Amanda Glithero

    Amanda Glithero 

    Elementary Teacher
  • Photo of Elizabeth Kyvig

    Ms. Elizabeth Kyvig 

    Elementary Teacher
  • Photo of Josh Nigl

    Josh Nigl 

    Elementary Teacher
  • Photo of Aaron Pierce

    Aaron Pierce 

    Elementary Teacher
  • Photo of Kristan Rivera

    Kristan Rivera 

    Elementary Teacher
  • Photo of Jacqueline Savage

    Jacqueline Savage 

    Elementary Teacher
  • Photo of Timothy Schwartz

    Timothy Schwartz 

    Elementary Teacher

Upper Elementary Teachers

List of 5 members.

  • Photo of Lisa Blackford

    Lisa Blackford 

    Elementary Teacher
  • Kristen Campbell 

    Elementary Teacher
  • Photo of Catharina Japikse

    Catharina Japikse 

    Elementary Teacher
  • Photo of Janice Rowley

    Janice Rowley 

    Elementary Teacher
  • Photo of Amy Schlenker

    Amy Schlenker 

    Elementary Teacher

The Elementary Program

At the core of MSNV’s Elementary program is an individually paced curriculum that challenges students academically while supporting their well-being and sense of self. During their Elementary years, students hone the invaluable skills that will serve them as life-long learners — to question, think critically, and take responsibility for their own learning.

The Curriculum

List of 7 items.

  • Cosmic Education

    Cosmic Education was Montessori’s vision for the Elementary child and it is the basis of the elementary Montessori classroom. Cosmic Education is an approach that leads students to an understanding and appreciation for the whole universe and the interconnectedness between its parts. Rather than teaching the curriculum as separate entities, abstract and disconnected, Cosmic Education seeks to highlight the all-encompassing, holistic vision of various disciplines combined. To do this we start with the Great Lessons, impressionistic stories of the universe and the history of life and humanity. Lessons after these stories seek to remind the child of every living being’s cosmic purpose – the reason for existence. This vision of the universe, as a place full of connected and purposeful life, leads an Elementary child toward greater questions, such as his or her place in the universe and what that entails. Montessori’s hope was that this point of view would lead children to a sense of wonder about the universe, and thus to strive for a more peaceful society.

    The Great Lessons set the framework for the curriculum, and students can pursue the various ideas presented in them as their interests allow. In a time of development where children are concerned with social and moral issues, Cosmic Education provides them with a broad view of the community. The connections made through Cosmic Education lead to further moral questions that will set the tone for how they live their lives.

    Each child’s education is a journey and not a race. We feel fortunate to be able to guide this part of the journey. We trust the unique journey of your child and always seek to serve them with developmentally appropriate lessons and ideas.
  • Practical Life

    The entire Montessori curriculum strives toward independence and self-direction for the child. In keeping with this concept, the aim of the practical life curriculum is to give children the skills they need to independently care for themselves, their peers, and their environment. This curriculum is very broad, for it takes in any activity necessary for day to day life, but can be broken down into four basic categories – Care of Self, Care of the Environment, Grace and Courtesy, and Life Skills. 

    To instill in students a sense of respect for the environment and ultimately each other, children help maintain the classroom environment by carefully cleaning up after themselves and taking turns completing the various classroom jobs each day. We call the children’s attention to caring for the greater environment through lessons on topics such as recycling, composting, conservation, ecology, etc. Children at this age level are very sensitive to social and environmental responsibility.

    Modeling grace and courtesy is a key part of the elementary practical life curriculum. Some of this modeling is done through the process of community meetings, where the students come together to problem solve and make decisions for the classroom. At other times, the teachers will role play how to handle various social situations such as introducing a friend, being a good listener, and what to do if someone is hurting your feelings. When disputes do arise, we guide them in becoming independent problem-solvers. The children's interest in social interactions also makes circle time an important part of the practical life curriculum.

    As a segment of our Peace Education curriculum, the Elementary classrooms use the Virtues Project lessons. Each week, the classrooms will focus on a specific virtue and how it can be further integrated into the lives of the students, through activities, classroom discussions, and conversations to create awareness. More information about the project and a list of the virtues can be found at http://www.virtuesproject.com

    Life skills lessons will be direct extensions of what the students are covering in other areas of the Elementary curriculum. As they learn how various cultures satisfy their Fundamental Needs they may try their hand at skills such as sewing, gardening, spinning, weaving, carving, or creating pottery. In addition, students take a role in planning trips and events which involves a wide variety of practical life skills such as group cooperation, advanced planning, and communication skills.
  • The Great Stories

    Dr. Montessori believed the only approach that would truly satisfy the Elementary child - the child who asks endless questions - was to give the child the "whole" and the ability to see how the parts of the whole are interconnected. The Great Lessons are impressionistic stories that are thought of as a prologue to a drama, each acts as a "curtain-raiser" to the disciplines of science, history, mathematics, and language arts.

    "Impressionistic" means that these lessons are told as grand stories that will inspire and ignite the imagination, interest and curiosity in the child rather than as a listing of facts. They are presented with drama, mystery, rich language, and awe. Dr. Montessori said that the Montessori Elementary teacher must be a "storyteller of the truth." She told her teachers to sow as many seeds of interest into the fertile minds of the children as are possible - some will germinate now; others will be held to do so later. When the child enters elementary, he brings with him a reasoning mind, a mind capable of imagining the vastness of space and the march of time - so now we open the door to all of that through these Great Lessons.

    The Great Lessons are the heart and soul of the Elementary classroom.
    • The First Great Lesson is the Coming of the Universe and the Earth
    • The Second Great Lesson is the Coming of Life.
    • The Third Great Lesson is the Coming of Humans.
    • The Fourth Great Lesson is the Story of Writing.
    • The Fifth Great Lesson is the Story of Numbers.
  • Cultural

    The cultural curriculum of the Elementary is vast and aims to provide the students with a broad view of the universe that we live in and how the parts of the whole are interconnected and interdependent.  Independent research, experiments, and work with concrete materials are all a part of the cultural curriculum. Using the impressionistic Great Lessons as a springboard, students explore a wide variety of subjects under these broad topics:
    • Biology
    • Astronomy
    • Earth Science
    • Physical Science
    • Environmental Education
    • Physical and Political Geography
    • History and Cultures
  • Language

    Reading, Writing and Oral Expression

    Like all timetables, this is a rough estimation of when a child’s brain will be ready for the complex task of reading. That is why children enter the Elementary class at all stages of reading development. Some children enter their Elementary years already reading fluently. Other children are just beginning the process of blending sounds into recognizable words. These two extremes and everything in between is normal development for a six year old. In the Elementary class, we will continue the dual approach begun at the Primary level of both decoding and encoding for children who are working on developing their basic reading skills.

    As important as the ability to read is, it is only one aspect of becoming a reader. Equally important is learning to enjoy reading. If a child enjoys books, he or she is much more likely to develop into a competent and fluent reader. This is why we set aside time several times a week just to sit down and enjoy a good book through silent reading time.

    Once a child is able to read non-phonetic material with ease they are introduced to the reading comprehension work within the class. This may include matching vocabulary words to their meaning, classification work, and short passages with a few key questions. The older students are also encouraged to read voraciously. Since the books they are reading are often much longer, we ask that they complete shorter reading comprehension activities as well. Leveled programs allow us to place each child in an appropriate level book for independent work.

    Just as expository writing is important for students, they also need to develop a comfort with creative writing. Writers’ Workshop is a time set aside for the children to write, revise, edit, and publish their creative and expository writing efforts. The children are able to choose what they would like to write about and often enjoy brainstorming ideas for future stories. At various times in the writing process, a student is able to share and receive feedback on his or her writing with the rest of the class or in small groups. Students share feedback about that particular story. 

    Students have varied opportunities throughout the curriculum to practice their oral skills. Students will read aloud to small groups either, participate in discussion groups, lead class meetings, prepare and present presentations on various cultural follow up works, perform in dramatic performances, greet visitors giving tours of the classroom, and more.

    History of Language
    • Spoken Language: Explorations
    • Written Language: Stories
    Oral Language
    Examples of lessons:
    • Public speaking
    • Oral reports
    • Conversational skills
    Examples of lessons:
    • Comprehension
    • Literature Groups/Novel Study
    • Shakespeare
    Expressive Language
    Examples of lessons:
    • Creative writing
    • Expository writing
    Examples of lessons:
    • Editing
    • Proofreading
    • Punctuation
    Examples of lessons:
    • Cursive
    • Calligraphy
    • Touch typing
    Examples of lessons:
    • Nine parts of Speech
    • Sentence analysis and diagramming
    • Clauses and Compound/Complex sentence structure

  • Math

    Students use materials to work toward the abstraction of math concepts, naturally formulating rules and formulas themselves. Traditionally, the study of mathematics starts with the rules and the drills follow. According to the Montessori Method, the rules are points of arrival — not departure. Through the child's own effort, the internalization of abstract concepts is achieved. This carefully designed movement from the concrete to the abstract allows the child to develop a deep understanding of complex mathematical principles.

    Areas of focus include:
    • Number & Operations in Base 10
    • Measurement & Additional Concepts
    • Fractions
    • Algebra
    • Geometry
  • Field Trips/Experiences/Community Service

    Students participate in multiple community service projects throughout the school year. Classrooms go on trips to local museums, parks, theaters and more and also invite guest speakers in supporting various curricular topics. Third through fifth grade students spend a three day trip at the Echo Hill Outdoor School while our 6th Graders spend a week in the Bahamas at The Cape Eleuthera Institute.