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Curriculum | The Ivy School



The Ivy School’s elementary and middle school programs for children ages 6 through 14 include the following elements:

All children work at their own pace in accord with their individual ability. Gifted children perform at their own accelerated pace. Children who need more time are given what they need to progress confidently. No child must slow down or speed up to keep pace with any group.

Teachers “follow the child”. Montessori guides adapt the curriculum to the interest and aptitudes of individual child rather than impose the same curriculum to all children regardless of their interests and aptitudes.

Ages are combined within the same classroom. Older children have an opportunity to teach and lead their younger classmates, and younger children have the opportunity to model themselves after the older children.

Concrete, hands-on materials. Children are naturally adept at navigating their physical environment, especially when the materials surrounding them are sized correctly for them. Children learn abstract concepts from interacting with physical materials, such as phonetic spelling with the Moveable Alphabet and geography with a World Puzzle Map.


While researching and discovering the answers to many of life’s big questions, the student will continue to build on the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic that were introduced in the primary communities. Different from a traditional school setting where a curriculum guides the daily lessons, it is the student who plans his or her day within the curriculum, under the guidance of the teacher and, with a list of goals and activities, all based on the student’s individual ability level.

Included in a student’s daily work are:

  • Language arts (reading, grammar, spelling, creative writing)
  • Advanced math (algebraic concepts, square root, base systems other than 10)
  • Botany and Zoology
  • History
  • Geography
  • Science


Through local cultural and civic organizations, as well as in-depth study areas, our students’ learning is rounded out with “specials” designed to extend their learning beyond the basic academics.

These specials include:

  • Music activities
  • Integrated art (and art studies)
  • Physical education
  • Library
  • Field trips
  • Community service project
  • Drama – Class festivals where they relate to the history curriculum
  • Summer enrichment programs
  • Computer education

Every year, students in grades 3, 4, 5 and 7 will take the Oaks test, which is a state required test to measure how students are performing on state standards.

Elementary-age children are more social than younger children. Group activities and group norms become matters of great importance to children after age five. It is an ideal age to learn how to successfully work with others. By design, Montessori Elementary uses the peer group to teach team contribution, fairness, respectful behavior and consideration for others.  Conflict resolution along with grace and courtesy are key components in our school.

The Elementary Program includes:

  • Developing strong social skills
  • Accommodation for the needs of individual learners
  • Development of concrete and abstract concepts using the Montessori Philosophy and material
  • Use of tactile materials
  • Academic work is integrated with Oregon and Common Core State Standards
  • Freedom with boundaries- the child follows their own interests while learning from and alongside peers
  • Multi-age classrooms
  • Field trips and community events
  • Grace and courtesy

The age of early adolescence is a unique time in the life of a person.  The early adolescent is neither a young child nor a mature adult. So the questions posed are: Who are adolescents? What are the needs of this particular age group? Dr. Maria Montessori saw great potential in youth between the ages of 12-15, and sought to find ways to nurture their physical, emotional, spiritual, social and intellectual capabilities through a myriad of activities and experiences, which would guide these youths to become confident, compassionate citizens in their community, and in the world. The Ivy School began an Adolescent Program in September 2012, which is thriving and continues to expand.

The Ivy School Adolescent Program consists of these key curriculum components: 

Adolescents are in a time of constant change, physically and emotionally. It is important that they have comfort in knowing they can learn in an environment that will welcome their presence and opinions. The school community fosters this at the beginning of the year with fun activities, themed around building a community of peers and staff. The orientation sets the foundation of each person’s ability to cooperate with others that are similar or different in personalities. Community building will continue to be a daily practice with activities such as community meetings, where students and staff meet to discuss school community affairs and personal reflections about different discussion topics.  In all, school community life gives each student a glimpse of the “real world”—working with a larger community, other than themselves and their families. This component is essential for the success of the Adolescent Program, and will lend itself to all educational experiences throughout the year.

The Humanities curriculum focuses on the study of humanity, using topics in history, writing, philosophy, sociology, literature and art. The Humanities curriculum is based on a two-year cycle:  the first year is Cycle 1: Evolution of Culture and the second year is Cycle 2: Evolution of Western Civilization. The students will explore, investigate, and experience the history of all civilization, beginning with Cycle 1:  the study of hunter-gatherers, nomadic societies, Egyptian civilization, study of cities, and the study of peace in our world. In Cycle 2, students learn about ancient civilizations, such as Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, history of the Americas, and ending with the study of our world in the 21st Century. Lessons are designed for students to go deeper into their knowledge about the topics that are presented to them, through oral presentations, essay writing, literature seminars, debates, and various other activities that spark interest in learning more about the subjects presented. Exploration in the topics of geography, music, and self-expression (art) are also significant areas in the humanities curriculum.

Scientific studies are linked to lessons presented in humanities. Students have first-hand experiential lessons in earth sciences, physical sciences, and life sciences. Some of the lessons that are applied to everyday activities are learning about early tools of man, food preservation, and studying the ever changing ecology of our community, and the earth.  Students have many opportunities to experience hands-on work, through gardening, study of our rivers and streams, canning and dehydration of food.  In addition, students continue to have practice in the scientific method, data collection, analysis of research findings, so that they will grasp science as an application to our everyday lives.

Students are evaluated in order to determine their level of ability at the beginning of the year.  They are then be placed in a math curriculum that will best suit their needs and learning styles.  The curricula are be based in two areas, 1) that is based on an investigative, application approach of learning math and 2) a practice-based or conventional style of learning math.  Math lessons are presented on a daily basis using texts that meet the standards of the local school districts.

Writing Workshop allows students to express themselves through the composition of narratives, poetry, character development, and journaling. Students learn and refine skills in grammar and punctuation in forms of mini-lessons on a particular topic. Students “show and tell” their creative works through practice of reading compositions to a group of peers. This approach to writing workshop is a great way to affirm the adolescent’s ability to express him/herself through writing.

Spanish is spoken daily throughout the day. Each student has access to speaking with a Guide or Assistant that is experienced in the language.  In addition to everyday conversation in the Spanish Language, the students have regular instruction on Spanish grammar and culture. These classes are a preparation for taking regularly scheduled foreign language classes in high school.

The term “experiential learning” would be equivalent to a “field trip” or “extracurricular activity,” however it is more defined in the Adolescent community.  Experiential learning offers a deeper understanding of what the students learn, and how they learn it, as opposed to reading about it in a classroom assignment.  Experiential learning is an integral part of the entire Adolescent Program at Ivy; it is interchangeable with the students’ studies. Students have the opportunity to live in nature by going on camping trips, they get to interview long-time Portland residents about Portland history, they participate in various community service projects, organize and produce their own talent program (e.g. drama production and/or poetry reading), and they get first-hand experience on how to start a small business. These are just a few activities that a student will be an active participant in.

(The Ivy School also includes grace and courtesy as part of the all-school curriculum.)

Montessori education is a continuum experience, with children ideally enrolling by age three.  Children choose their work from self correcting material kept on open shelves.   Overtime children develop the skill of working with high concentration, moving from undisciplined to self disciplined.


Entry for a developing 3- 4 year child into Children’s House @ Ivy  is dependent on several developmental milestones to ensure their success.  This criterion includes:


  • Child must be able to independently recognize their toiling needs
  • Child will have experienced successful toileting at home for two full months before starting enrollment
  • Child must demonstrate the ability  and will to remove their own wet clothes and attempt to redress themselves


  • Child must exhibit expressive language skills in their first language
    • Such as  self and family member words
    • Can speak a short sentence
  • Child must show receptive language skill and be able to:
    • Follow one step instruction


  • Child must exhibit impulse control appropriate to their age
  • Child displays ability  to separate from parent without undue stress after an adjustment period

The Children’s House @ Ivy is a full day program


  • Child functions well without a nap both at school and at home
  • Child shows independence in eating
  • Child maintains engagement in the classroom for the entire day after and adjustment period

Learn more including Enrollment & Admission as well as Tuition & Fees