Montessori Middle School (7th & 8th Grade)

Setting the Stage for a Triumphal Entry into Society

Why Montessori Middle School at LePort?

The early adolescent years are a critical time in a young person’s life. They can be thrilling: The child becomes a young adult. Horizons broaden, and questions of purpose, of meaning, of life goals make for deep conversations. Yet these years can also be challenging: Emotions run high like they did during the toddler years. Bodies change. Hormones and impulsivity, peer focus and rejection of adult authority can make guiding a young person toward good judgment quite a task.

“The whole life of the adolescent should be organized in such a way that will allow him or her, when the time comes, to make a triumphal entry into the life of society, not entering it debilitated, isolated or humiliated, but with head high, sure of himself or herself. Success in life depends on self-confidence born of a true knowledge of one’s capacities.”
—Dr. Maria Montessori

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By providing us with your phone number, you consent to being contacted by LePort Montessori and/or its affiliated schools regarding their educational programs, whether such contact is by phone, autodialer, recorded message, or text. Please note: Your consent is not required as a condition of enrollment.

Montessori Middle School offers an environment tailored to adolescents.

A high warmth/high expectation environment. With us, your child will be respected in their uniqueness. She’ll be known as an individual, cared for as a human being, acknowledged in her strengths—yet at the same time, she will be held to high, rigorous standards, both in academics (so she can achieve her potential) and in behavior (so she remains an authentic, real, healthy human being, and can weather the turbulence of adolescent emotions with grace).

Close relationships with adult role models. Throughout human history, the early teenage years have been times where the young were introduced to the world of the adults. The young person yearns to become an adult, to be accepted as an equal—yet we must remember that they are not fully developed yet, that their entry into adulthood needs to happen in a respectful, safe way. Teenagers crave and need adult role models (a role a master played for apprentices), yet often need to live without them, as peer culture rejects adults as uncool. In Montessori Middle School, we create a culture where young people are able to look up to and learn from their teachers.

A small community that supports authentic self-expression. Adolescence is a period of rapid change. Young people thrive during that time when they can be themselves—when they can be open and authentic with peers they trust and respect, rather than succumbing to peer pressure and building a fake, public persona to hide their true self, or slipping through unnoticed in a large middle school. In the smaller environment of Montessori Middle School, children are seen as unique individuals, and interact with peers who may be quite different (instead of sorting themselves into cliques with similar interests and pressure to conform).

Community work and responsibility. Adolescents want to find meaning in life—and exert control. In the Middle School environment, they find many ways to contribute to and shape their community (see details below). The ability to do meaningful work in their community, and assuming responsibility for not just their own academics, but a broader goal, help students to feel seen and respected as the capable emerging adults they are becoming.

Academics and Curriculum

Language Arts. Building on the foundation developed in Montessori Elementary—using students’ foundation of spelling, deep vocabulary, and knowledge of grammar—in the Middle School language arts program, our students apply these skills toward writing. We know that writing is a learned skill—and teach it step-by-step. Students write on a wide variety of topics, drawn from all areas of the curriculum, and get practice with a range of assignments, from book reports to essays to creative stories. Throughout, students are guided through writing process steps (brainstorming, gathering information and resources, creating outlines, writing a rough draft, integrating quotes, and multi-step editing—for clarity, content, and copy-editing). We hold students to high standards—and enable them to achieve work they are proud of by supporting them with individualized, detailed feedback that allows them to get better draft after draft, project after project.

“Our son has become an eager writer. When he joined LePort in 6th grade, it was a struggle for him to get his thoughts on paper. He was in 6th grade—but he couldn’t confidently write a well-constructed paragraph. He is very smart verbally, but he was just stumped by the writing process—a true anxiety-producing writer’s block. Now, just 1½ years later, he takes a white piece of paper, and without any assistance from me, writes a beautifully constructed book report or essay. His papers start with a well-written introduction, have a concise logical argument and evidence to support it, and he ends with a great conclusion. Amazingly, he doesn’t even have to think about how to do it any more: at LePort, they provide so much practice, that the students just acquire a habit of writing in a certain way.” —LePort Parent

Literature. Our Middle School literature program has two overarching goals: (1) We want children to experience literature as an exciting journey, an opportunity to meet great characters and to explore moral choices in a fictional context; (2) We use literature to help children develop the skills to think clearly, to reflect on what they read, to express and support their point of view with evidence, and to communicate their thoughts in a compelling way, in writing and speaking.

Our students read high-quality, full-length literature (not excerpts). We choose timeless works with universally relevant conflicts and meaningful themes, works that will deepen our students’ understanding of history, our world, and other people, while inspiring a joy of reading and elevating their skill levels. Works range from novels (e.g., Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird), to plays (e.g., Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar) to poetry.

“Literature is based on the classics, on great works—and students learn real lessons from what they read. The teachers always ask students to think about what they can learn from their readings, for their own lives: Would you be a friend with that person? What would you have done differently if you had been in this character’s situation, and why? At LePort, they really connect what they teach to the kids’ lives.” —Tami W., LePort Parent, Mission Viejo

Mathematics. Middle School mathematics covers pre-algebra and may include algebra and geometry—with students progressing as fast and far as their unique skills permit. Content is drawn from a range of materials, from standard materials in textbooks to cutting-edge Montessori Middle School algebra materials, as well as a proprietary, LePort-created geometry curriculum.

Science. The Middle School curriculum primarily focuses on a deeper study of the physical sciences, such as chemistry and physics. Students learn these subjects through hands-on laboratory experiments, research, and guided exploration. Throughout their study, they are informed by the historical development of these scientific fields with an emphasis on how physical sciences contribute to human activities today.

History and Geography. During the Middle School years, students continue the in-depth study of history begun in elementary, by learning about and from modern European and American history. Students in Middle School begin the process of integrating and deepening their knowledge and mastery of historical thinking. We explore these time periods with a thematic approach: one cycle focuses on the foundations of society (e.g., the U.S. constitution and different political systems); the second cycle focuses on transformations of society (e.g., revolutions, reformations, and major wars). Throughout our program, geography is integrated into the study of history, giving children a sense of place and progression of events across the earth.

Enrichment Opportunities

Exploring passions and learning life skills

Outside of the core curriculum, Montessori Middle School students at LePort have the opportunity to work with their teachers to create enrichment opportunities that meet their individual and community needs. Enrichment ranges from physical education (where one year students may choose to work on running the mile twice a week, or alternatively engage with a teacher to learn proper exercise forms), to health education, from visual and performing arts to music. As we grow and develop our program, we may introduce one or more one-week inter-sessions each year focused on a variety of topics—such as internships, or a making workshop, or a performing arts project.

Goal-Setting, Self-Governance and Community Work

Finding meaning in shaping and contributing to their community

Adolescents strive towards independence—in their daily actions, in their choices, in their relationships. Yet at the same time, they crave community, not just to be in it, but to actively shape their social environment, to figure out how to act constructively with peers, how to create rules that make sense, and how to navigate conflicts constructively.

Child-directed goal setting and assessment. Autonomy and engagement is ever more important as children become adults. Thus, at the beginning of each year, we run goal-setting meetings. These meetings involve students, parents and all teachers who are contributing to the child’s class. At this community meeting (often around a potluck dinner), adolescents and parents fill out extensive goal setting forms, covering academics (“get over my fear of algebra”), preparation for high school (“put together my art portfolio for my high school application”), and social skills (“do something nice for the less popular kids”). Teachers engage in discussions around these goals, which ensures that everyone is on the same page, and can support the young person in reaching her goals.

We also refer back to the goal setting documents as part of ensuring accountability throughout the year: “You said you wanted to turn your writing in on time this year—yet the last three reports have all been several days late. How come? What can we do to help you achieve your goal?”

Community work. We enable them to contribute to the school community or beyond—in ways they choose so what they do feels personally meaningful. We set up an environment where they can make an economic contribution, creating a micro-economy at school. What particular form these contributions take will vary from year to year, and can be as unique as the students and their interests. Here are some examples:

  • Running gym class for Elementary. Active middle school students who love sports and coaching have in the past planned and run gym class for their younger peers.
  • Producing and publishing books and magazines. One Middle School group chose to write their own history book. Their teacher supported them, and offered guidance—but the students led the entire project. They produced the book, took orders, and decided what to do with the money (organize and fund an alumni meeting after they graduated). Another group of students became interested in producing a literary magazine. Over many years, the oldest students at the school have managed the production of the yearbook for the entire school community.
  • Offering after-school clubs and tutoring for younger students. Students have organized free after-school clubs for younger students—ranging from Rubik’s Cube club to geography club, from comic drawing to math tutoring.
  • Organizing events outside of school and contributing to community causes. One Middle School student who was passionate about music organized a music appreciation evening for Elementary and Middle School—managing everything from finding the venue, to recruiting students to perform, to advertising the event. A group of other students organized a bake sale to support an animal shelter.

In our Montessori setting, we take delight in supporting student initiatives, and to make room for whatever form it may take, from opening a school store to selling pizza on Fridays, or from building fencing to sewing materials for the Montessori Primary teachers.

Travel Experiences

Field trips and annual overnight travel

In Middle School, students continue to go on several whole-community field trips per year. With increased maturity and through self-governance, students participate in choosing field trip destinations, and in organizing the trips.

During the two-year program, students will also participate in two overnight trips.

  • Washington D.C. and environs. On this weeklong trip, students visit many historically-important sites in and around Washington D.C. The specific schedule varies from year to year, as students make choices on which sights to visit.
  • A local outdoors-bound trip. On alternating years, students participate in a multi-day outdoor oriented trip, which may involve camping, attending an outdoor education program, or exploring a local outdoor destination (e.g., Catalina or Yosemite).

After LePort: Preparing for High School and Beyond

Personalized counseling and preparation

After LePort Montessori Middle School, students choose to enroll in and succeed at a wide range of programs for their high school years. From our Irvine Spectrum Middle School program, graduates have moved on to leading private schools in the area (e.g., Sage, J Serra, St. Margarita), gone on to public schools in many local cities, secured places in sought-out magnet and charter school programs (e.g., OSCA, SOCSA), chosen to be home-schooled, or enrolled in boarding high school programs, both domestic and international.

Our students succeed in a wide range of settings, because they are well-prepared academically—and, more importantly, because they have the confidence and personal skills to pursue their goals. They have been supported during their critical adolescent years in being able to be their authentic selves—which helps them have the self-confidence they need to thrive in high school. They have learned to be organized, to set their own learning agenda and goals, and to seek out the help they need to reach those goals. Once in high school, they are capable of working with a wide range of teachers, and will not be buried by the ever-present choices, but will embrace them.

Because our Middle School program is small, we can individually counsel your family and your child on their high school options. We begin working together in 7th grade to develop a strategy for identifying the right school and preparing your child for the admissions process. Our alumni community is another great resource: we often put parents in touch with the parents of alumni who have gone to schools a child is interested in, and families have shared how valuable these alumni relationships are in making the right high school choice for their children.

Montessori Middle School in Action

2017/18 will be the first year we will run a fully-implemented Montessori Middle School program. We’ll share more videos and photos by early 2018. For now, here are a few videos from other Montessori Middle School programs that can give you an idea of the type of environment and experiences children will have.

Montessori Middle School Overview

From Nebraska public schools, with student testimonials

Montessori Middle School Overview

From Rockford public schools, with student testimonials

Richmond Montessori Middle School—The Student’s View

Student speak about their middle school experience in a small Montessori program

Stay in touch with LePort Montessori

Please fill out the form to receive additional info, as well as invitations for upcoming event. If you share your phone number, our admissions team will call to answer your questions or set up a tour.

By providing us with your phone number, you consent to being contacted by LePort Montessori and/or its affiliated schools regarding their educational programs, whether such contact is by phone, autodialer, recorded message, or text. Please note: Your consent is not required as a condition of enrollment.