Cycle 3: Primary School (9-12 years)

The 9-12 year olds in Cycle 3 are working more fully in the abstract but still using concrete materials to aid understanding at a deeper level. The final year in Cycle 3 brings an increasing emphasis on preparation for high school. Children from Montessori East make a smooth transition to a variety of high schools; private, public and selective.

The child's education in the final stage of primary school continues to promote development of his or her mental independence as well as the ability to manage the requirements of daily life with grace, confidence and effectiveness. The structure of the classroom encourages a high level of self-discipline. Research, independent study, and collaborative projects all teach children how to learn, not just what to learn.

Curriculum: Key Learning Areas

The Cycle 3 program extends personal responsibility for work completion and time management. Students manage their own work schedules and work spaces. Students often work alone, with a partner, or in small groups to design and complete various projects. These independent work projects give the students the opportunity to study a subject in depth and then share the information through oral presentations, displays, reports, shelf work activities and/or dramatic presentations.


The Montessori materials, one-on-one work with teachers, and field studies cultivate higher-order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

The Cycle 3 language program places emphasis on the development of strong skills in composition and creative writing. Reading and writing are an integral part of the independent research and projects which the Cycle 3 students embrace.  The teacher works with each child to continually improve the wide variety of writing styles they will need to master.  Grammar and diagramming sentences continues.  Reading for pleasure as well as for academic pursuit is a part of every student's weekly routine.  Oral presentations to small and large groups about a wide variety of topics are an ongoing part of the language curriculum.

French Language:  The children learn French with a native French speaker.


The inquisitiveness of the Cycle 3 Montessori student is astounding.  They dive into the study of fractions and decimals, eager to move beyond to more complex mathematics, geometry, and algebra.  While the concrete materials are still available, the need for repetition is gone. Cycle 3 students move quickly from the concrete experience to abstract thought.  They are eager to test their knowledge with pencil and paper and need, at times, a gentle reminder to return to the materials as a way of building neurological pathways.

Cycle 3 students continue to work at their own pace under the individualized guidance of the teacher.  They learn decimals, square and cube roots, percentages, properties of numbers, algebraic equations, and more geometry.  The emphasis is on discovery and the math materials encourage inquisitiveness and exploration.  .

Science & Technology

Still directly tied to the Five Great Lessons, the Montessori Cycle 3 science curriculum is about further development of the scientific method.  Children now have the ability to focus on in-depth research.  They are able to actively engage with what interests them by conducting experiments based on scientifically formulated hypotheses, collecting and interpreting data, and presenting their results.  

History & Geography

The Great Lessons still figure prominently in the 9-12 Montessori environments.  The geographical studies begun in Cycle 2 are now explored more deeply.   Economic geography is introduced at this level and students learn how buy, sell, and trade resources and how a country’s wealth can greatly influence the prosperity of their people.  

The geography curriculum is designed to show how the physical configurations of the earth contribute to history.  It includes a study of physical geography, political geography, and economic geography. 

The history curriculum follows the development of the solar system, the life of earth, the development of humankind, early civilizations and recorded history. The goal is for the child to see the long labour of humankind that was needed to accomplish all that is enjoyed today.


Children at this age demonstrate an intense desire to develop strong connections with their peers. They take increasing responsibility for their own conduct in personal relationships as well as in caring for the environment.  Dr. Montessori pointed out that morality has a practical side that governs social relationships and a spiritual side that presides over the awakening of the child's conscience.  Questions of right and wrong are considered in class meetings, which serve as arenas to express issues and feelings. These discussions also allow rules and procedures to be developed in order to recognize and respect others.  The class meetings also encourage co-operative effort.  This is the stage during which the child's sense of justice is formed, and those experiences help children build and internalize a moral code. 

Yuki Sutherland-Spittle 11 yo