Community Service Learning in the Primary Division focuses on a very important element of Montessori education – the concept of peace. During each year of development within the Primary Division, our youngest students work towards gaining a deeper understanding of the essential question, “What is Peace?”
Our Community Service Learning Projects
First graders explored the essential question, “Why do we need each other?” We began the year by learning about the classroom community, and the children discussed how to be a valuable member of a group.
How do we affect the environment we live in, and how can we protect it for our future?” Second graders pondered this essential question as they studied the interconnectedness of animals, plants, and people. In their science classes, they studied animal environments and the impact humans have upon them.
Third graders investigated the essential question, “How is where we live impacted by water?” The students began by building an understanding of their essential question through discussion and class activities related to water issues such as conservation, drought, purification, and natural disasters.
Fourth graders were asked to think about the essential question, “What does it mean to be hungry, and how can we reduce this problem in our community?” To begin their journey, armed only with their previous knowledge on the topic, children were asked to draw what they felt hunger looked like.
Fifth graders examined the essential question, “How is illiteracy a problem in our country and what can we do to help?” To understand illiteracy, students began their inquiry in their science classes by trying to understand how the human brain learns. Through games and research, students began to understand that learning occurs when new neural pathways are connected within the brain.
This year the sixth graders explored the question, “Who should care for the elderly?” Students participated in simulations to experience firsthand some of the disabilities that can accompany aging. They discussed issues around baby boomers, social security, and budgets, and listened and directed questions to a panel including a representative from the Alzheimer’s Association, a therapist specializing in geriatrics, and a director from Epworth Villa.
The seventh grade Community Service Learning program focused on the question, “What is society’s responsibility, if any, for the care of pregnant women, newborns, and children?” This question reinforced important topics in the seventh grade curriculum including human sexuality, the role and function of government, and the ability to make persuasive arguments.
The eighth graders were asked to examine the essential question, “Is poverty necessary?” The students began by developing their cognitive knowledge of the issues around poverty, its causes, its symptoms and how poverty in our society is being addressed through both the public and private sectors. This in-depth study involved reading several novels offering firsthand accounts of poverty, analyzing a joint Brookings/American Enterprise Institute report, “Opportunity, Responsibility, Security,” researching welfare policies, and eventually creating their own policy memos outlining steps they would take to assist those living in poverty within our society.