The Use of Multi-Age Classrooms in Montessori Schools
One of the most noticeable differences between a traditional daycare center and a Montessori school is the age group of the children inside the classroom. Dr. Maria Montessori believed that children should be grouped into classrooms according to their plane of development, not their exact age. The planes of development can be broken down to: 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-15, and 15-18 years old.
There are numerous benefits to multi-age groupings in a Montessori classroom. Children in Montessori classrooms can remain with the same teacher for three years. This allows teachers to get to know each child’s strengths and weaknesses very well and gain an understanding for what each child needs to be successful. Children also feel closer and more comfortable around their teacher and classmates since they have known them for a while. Shyness and anxiety are reduced because a child does not have to worry about making new friends each year.
Another benefit of multi-age classrooms is that older students gain leadership skills by serving as mentors to younger students. They can explain more advanced concepts and answer questions about different topics. Younger students sometimes feel more comfortable asking people their own age for help, and they also benefit from having a mentor who is always close by in case they need assistance with something.
Social skills are also enhanced by multi-age classrooms. Young students are often intimidated by those who are older than them. Being placed in a classroom with children who are slightly older helps them to become comfortable interacting with older students.
Another key benefit of the Montessori approach is that each child is given the freedom to move at his or her own pace. Students will never feel bored because there will always be a more advanced lesson that they can work on when they finish their current one. On the other hand, if a student needs more time to understand a concept, they are free to do so. Because so many different levels of each subject are being taught at the same time, a child will never feel embarrassed or left behind if they require additional time to master their lesson.
More in this series:
The Montessori Philosophy