Parents are surprised, and sometimes taken aback, to discover that each Montessori classroom consists of three-year age groupings. Accustomed to classes that consist of kids within a very narrow age range, you may wonder if having your three-year-old in a class with kindergarten-age children is a good idea.
It’s not just a good idea, it’s the best idea ever. Check out these four benefits Dr. Marie Montessori and her successors observed in multi-age classrooms.
Builds Community Bonds
In the “real world” outside the classroom, children constantly socialize with others of many ages, whether they be parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, neighbors or friends. A classroom that better matches that experience allows them to prepare for a diverse and multi-age world. The classroom becomes a family, and the children learn to be respectful of one another.
Builds Leadership Skills
In a Montessori classroom, older children are encouraged to act as mentors for the younger ones. Using what they’ve learned, they help those who have not yet mastered those skills. This reinforces their own skills, raises their self-esteem as they witness their own advancement, and it builds bridges of mutual respect between the age groups.
Younger children absorb the lessons as well as the patient example of their older peers. Over the three-year period, those younger children grow into confident and able mentors themselves.
Builds A Stable And Consistent Environment
The multi-aged classes take advantage of common “planes of development” that occur during the age group. Children don’t all reach these developmental stages at the same time. Grouping kids in a wider range of ages allows them to develop specific skills when they are ready for them, not at some arbitrary, single age.
Furthermore, allowing kids to remain in the same classroom over a few years promotes a very stable and consistent environment. The children get to know each other, and their teacher, better. A familiar classroom makes it easier for kids to ignore the chaos of a new situation every year and instead concentrate on learning.
Builds Better Understanding Of Your Child
In a multi-age classroom, your child’s teacher will have ample time to get to know him or her. Since the Montessori Method is based on minute observation, time is a great gift. The teacher is a guide, not a lecturer, and her skills rely on recognizing when your child is entering a new developmental stage. Your child’s teacher will observe, note, and adjust her methods to cater to your child’s individual learning style.
The multi-age classroom is one of the fundamental philosophies of the Montessori Method. Check out a Montessori school yourself to see the benefits of mixed-age classrooms in action.