(7th-9th grade & 10th-12th grade)

This prepared environment is designed for students ages 12 to 18 years.

The Erdkinder (Upper School) is divided into two distinct programs: Junior High School which correlates to grades 7-9, and the High School Program which correlates to grades 10-12.


Prepared Environment:

A Pathway to Cognitive Independence

The Upper School environment combines the benefits of a calm, organized yet intellectually challenging classroom setting, with the greater canvas of a natural outdoor agricultural experience. The balance of these important environments allows adolescents to construct their personality in safe yet physically and academically challenging environments, combining appropriate intellectual development with real, adult, meaningful work that makes a tangible contribution to their micro-economy.

"Education should include the two forms of work, manual and intellectual, for the same person, and thus make it understood by practical experience that these two kinds compete each other and are equally essential to a civilized existence."   

 ~ Dr. Maria Montessori,

                       From Childhood to Adolescence




The Upper School Humanities curriculum is designed to integrate all aspects of language arts, literature, history, the visual arts, and geography into units of study that are congruent and therefore meaningful to the student, and that allow for both group and individual research and production. All skills are taught through project-based learning. The curriculum includes regular writing workshops, in-depth analysis of texts (fiction and nonfiction), an exploration of genres from different periods, as well as an awareness of contemporary and emerging voices. Among the strengths and unique features of our program is attention given to art appreciation, presentation skills, exposure to etymology, rigorous understanding of grammar and sentence construction, and critical reading skills.

"The study of mankind should be treated as far as possible as a complete whole, from which special periods can be chosen for individual study."   

                                                                                               ~ Dr. Maria Montessori


Second Language Learning

All students in the Upper School program pursue studies in Chinese or Japanese. Lessons are conducted daily and are based on the Humanities curriculum, which is designed to expand the bounds of the students' ongoing academic pursuits. Discussions and daily conversations continue to allow students to practice communicating their thoughts and feelings orally and in writing, with clarity, imagination, and attention to register.



Upper School Mathematics features an integrated math curriculum aligned with the California Common Core State Standards Mathematics. Through mentoring, students build a deep foundational understanding of critical concepts to develop their mathematical mind and competence in mathematical applications, at their own pace and across different math areas. Math classes are intellectually rigorous yet allow for a high degree of personalized instruction. Students are encouraged to play, experiment, and persevere through trial and error. Throughout, they build the kind of confidence and creativity that are key to solving real-world problems. In 7th grade, the students will take pre-algebra. In 8-10th grades, the integrated math curriculum is designed to prepare students for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme in the 11th and the 12th grades. PRINTS has been awarded IB candidacy. In the last two years of the Upper School, the curriculum is designed to support the students to have a smooth transition to college level math. This course recognizes the need for analytical expertise in a world where innovation is increasingly dependent on a deep understanding of mathematics. The course allows the use of technology, as fluency in relevant mathematical software and hand-held technology is important regardless of choice of course. It places a strong emphasis on the ability to construct, communicate and justify correct mathematical arguments.

"A person without mathematical training today is like an illiterate in the times when everything depended on literary culture."   

                                       ~ Dr. Maria Montessori



The Upper School's integrated science curriculum follows the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Generally, the courses emphasize three distinct and equally important dimensions in science learning: crosscutting concepts, inquiry practice, and core ideas. These dimensions are combined to form the performance expectations. Each dimension works with the other two to help students build a cohesive understanding of science over time. Scientific inquiry is central to teaching and learning science. It enables students to develop a way of thinking and a set of skills and processes that stimulates students’ interests in science and prepares them for their continuing academic and professional endeavors as global citizens. In 7-8th grades, students will take life science and physical and earth science. In 9-10th grades, the integrated biology and chemistry science curriculum is designed to prepare students for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme in the 11th and the 12th grades. PRINTS has been awarded IB candidacy. In the last two years of the Upper School, through studying one of the science subjects (biology, chemistry, environmental system and societies), students become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, it is the emphasis on a practical approach through experimental work that characterizes these subjects.


"Every ulterior exercise of inner development, every ulterior cognition, will lead the child to new and ever higher flights into the realm of the abstract. It is well, however, to emphasize this principle: that the mind, in order to fly, must leave from some point of contact, just as the aeroplane starts from its hangar."   

                                                         ~ Dr. Maria Montessori


The Farm


Each year, our Upper School students conduct weekly and bi-weekly visits to an organic farm located on the rugged and beautiful California coast, just south of Pescadero. The students engage fully in all aspects of farm work, learning everything from soil science to understanding wholesale and retail pricing of produce. Twice a year (in spring and fall), the students spend a week living on the land, working alongside the farmer to engage more deeply with the life of the farm. The work on the farm is an integral aspect of the Montessori approach and is far more than an "outdoor education" experience; it allows for unparalleled educational moments as students begin to experience the value of the connection to the natural world, with civilization, societal development, independence, and economic prosperity.

"Working on the land is an introduction both to nature and to civilization...we have called these children the "ErdKinder" because they are learning about civilization through its origin in agriculture."   

                                   ~ Dr. Maria Montessori



Upper School students learn about the importance of production and exchange as the means to a sustainable and independent life. Each year, the class designs a "business" and works together to learn all aspects of ensuring that their endeavor can be both successful and enjoyable. Concepts that emerge from this occupation include learning about sourcing material, cost of goods, manufacturing, distribution, sales, marketing, packaging, pricing, and promotion. Examples of past micro-economies include making jams and jellies from our farm produce, and conducting bi-annual "fairs" for parents, selling hand-made goods. Participating in micro-economy fosters the entrepreneurial spirit as students gain an awareness of the importance of resources, need, and social and economic responsibility.


"The [micro-economy] neccessitates a enuine study of commerce and exchange, of the art of ascertaining the demand and being ready to meet it, of the strict and rigid rules of bookkeeping."   

                   ~ Dr. Maria Montessori


Movement and Creative Expression


The Upper School environment allows students opportunities for complete freedom of motion, communication, rest and observation. Play is more formalized at this plane of development, and scheduled outdoor time happens daily with student- or teacher-initiated conventional games like basketball, running, or gardening. All students participate in farm days and are expected to engage fully in the physical demands of farm work. Creative Expression is continually emphasized and integrated into the students' subject areas and school-wide projects. These art forms may include but are not limited to: dance, painting, ceramics, collage, crafts, cooking and nutrition, gardening, and videography.

"...all kinds of artistic occupations open to free choice both as to the time and the nature of the work. Some must be for the individual and some would require cooperation of the group...involving artistic and linguistic ability and imagination.

...These very children reveal to us the most vital need of their development, saying 'Help me to do it alone!'"

                                                ~ Dr. Maria Montessori