Our Program

The First Plane of Development
Dr. Montessori referred to the first stage in human development (birth to age six) as the time of the absorbent mind.

She understood these first six years of life to be the most fundamental in the development of human beings. This stage of a child's intellectual and emotional development is different from any other time of life; children are in essence creating the people they will become. At this stage children are sensory explorers, building their intellects by absorbing every aspect of their environment, culture, and language.

Toddler Program

Designed specifically for children ages 18 months to three years, our toddler classroom embraces Dr. Montessori’s philosophy by providing safe, structured, and beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces where toddlers can explore and learn.

The room feels like home as it invites exploration of child-sized materials that are based on everyday activities, nurturing the natural development of hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. The educational materials we use in the toddler program stimulate curiosity and provide a context for later learning.

The adults in the environment are the children’s models. Through quiet voices and patient interaction, we create a serene environment in which the children can pursue their work. Children at this age learn not only through individual lessons and independent practice but also through their attention to what the adults in their lives do.

Children’s House

From learning to tie shoes to choosing work, Children’s House students are respected as individuals and encouraged to be active participants in the classroom. For these children, aged three to six, learning is a dynamic and joyful process.

Our three-year Children’s House program offers hands-on experience in practical life, sensorial activities, language, Spanish, science, math, music and movement, and cultural studies. Each classroom has immediate access to the outdoor environment for gardening, nature study, picnics, and playtime.

Respecting others with grace and courtesy is the foundation for social and personal interaction throughout the Thacher School, as modeled by our guides. Children’s House students, in particular, learn to wait; politely interrupt; respect themselves and others; respect others’ workspaces; and use “indoor” voices in the classroom, proper table manners, and playground etiquette.

The Second Plane of Development
Children aged six to 12 are in the second plane of development. By now they have formed their sense of personal identity through the exploration of their environment.

In this second plane, they are developing a sense of themselves as part of a social group. Through their interactions, they learn collaboration, accountability, and adaptability while constructing an internal set of moral values. With imagination and reason, they are driven to learn by their own questions about how and why the world works the way it does.

Lower Elementary

Grades one to three—what we refer to in Montessori learning as Lower Elementary—is a time when children’s ideas are brought to life. They expand their imagination and stimulate their intellect through stories and activities designed specifically for that purpose.

In a rich and all-encompassing academic environment, children first learn concepts using concrete materials, then build their skills by practicing with those materials. Finally, they move to abstract knowledge and critical thinking.

As with all other Thacher programs, children work to their full potential in Lower Elementary. His or her readiness determines the lessons that a child receives, and children practice concepts to mastery. Elementary classrooms maintain a balance of freedom and responsibility. Children take great pleasure in having the freedom to make choices. At the same time, they are responsible for doing work that is productive and high in quality and ultimately balanced among critical areas of education. Children also enjoy the freedom to work in groups, which leads to discussion, disagreement, more discussion, and compromise.

Upper Elementary

With new physical and psychological needs and capabilities in tow in grades four through six, students at the Upper Elementary Level are at an exciting point in their lives. They are now can think more abstractly, engage more independently with their surroundings, and produce a greater quantity and quality of work.

Students continue working to their full potential in a curriculum-rich environment. At the Upper, Elementary level students are guided and supported in independent learning. In turn, they gain confidence and a sense of fulfillment.

The Montessori philosophy addresses the unique challenges of pre-adolescents by helping them develop the confidence to face the social, emotional, and societal pressures of their age. Thacher’s guidance at this stage is no different; we promote the pursuit of knowledge for the joy of the process and the satisfaction of the result. Our Upper Elementary students are imbued with a sense of responsibility as they prepare to become members of the larger community and citizens of the world.

Adolescent Program

What makes a 12- to 14-year-old tick? What kind of social and emotional needs do these young adolescents have? How will they transition to high school?

At Thacher, our students spend their final two years at our school pursuing personal excellence and preparing specifically for their transition to rigorous secondary school environments.

What’s distinctive about our Adolescent Program is that we use a block class schedule and a curriculum that is simultaneously integrated and adapted to each student. Students refine their thinking skills through seminars and independent studies.

Also, our students run businesses, conduct community service, work on a small farm, and complete community-based internships as a means to build upon and integrate their skills. They produce our yearbook, and every student is involved in our theatre production. Through the Adolescent Program, the students begin to develop a sense of who they will be as productive, caring adults in society.