One of the hallmarks of Montessori schools are classrooms with mixed age groups. In most cases, the age range is a maximum of 3 years, with the exception of the youngest children who are typically kept to a range from birth to 18 months. There are excellent reasons for having mixed age groups in classrooms.
Imitating the Real WorldOutside of school, children are rarely limited to interaction with other children their own age. They have siblings who are different ages, and the friends they make through daily activities are from mixed ages as well. Since the primary goal of the Montessori Method is to prepare children for success in the real world, imitating the natural mix of ages is beneficial to everyone.
Peer-Based Role ModelsChildren look up to their older peers, and that can have a positive impact in the Montessori classroom. Not only will the younger children adopt the behavior they see, but the older kids gain a sense of responsibility when they assist their younger classmates. Instilling self-esteem and personal responsibility is a big part of Montessori education, and the mixed ages contribute to that goal.
Sense of CommunityRemaining in the same environment for an extended period of time instills a sense of familiarity and community among children. This reinforces the concept of helping one another and prepares children for the responsibilities they will face later in life. As they age, the children who were assisted by older children early on become the ones assisting younger children, which means that they are able to put their own experiences with others into action as time goes by.
Benefits to TeachersAn important facet of the Montessori Method is a careful observation of the progress children make and areas where they require more assistance. Mixed age classrooms make this more feasible as the older children are able to relieve some of the burdens of instruction while reinforcing the concept of responsibility and sharing among all members of the classroom.
If you would like to get a more personal explanation of mixed age classrooms, staff from the Montessori School of Fremont will be happy to answer your questions and provide you with actual examples of how this philosophy pays off for everyone involved. Contact us today to learn more.