The Benefits of Montessori: Mixed Age Classrooms

Some early childhood programs divide children into age categories of no more than 12 or 24 months apart in age, while a Montessori program prefers a 3-year age grouping.  The Montessori Children’s House is designed for 3-6 year olds.

This concept can be concerning to parents new to the Montessori philosophy.  “Will my young child be “lost” amongst the older children?”  “Will my older child be ignored as teachers give more attention to younger, needier children?”

The Montessori teacher would answer this by responding that since most lessons are conducted individually or with a small group, younger children are not left behind, nor are older children partaking of simplified lessons.  Continue reading to see how the diverse age grouping of a Montessori classroom is more successful in meeting the needs of all students than conventional age grouping.  This is something that sets our school apart from other daycares and childcares in the Lakeville and Prior Lake area.

Minimizes change.

The Montessori classroom is set up so that a child has the same teacher for 3 years.  This stability enables to the child to maximize benefits from the classroom, as the teacher is well acquainted with his growth and his interests.  She has learned how he thinks and what he struggles with.  She has become adept at tailoring lessons to his needs

learn to teach

Encourages teaching by example.

As children progress through the classroom and master activities and materials, they begin to share their knowledge with younger friends, giving them the opportunity to model and teach!  The older child gains a sense of ownership and confidence as they help younger children learn how to care for the classroom, use the materials, and master skills they recently mastered themselves.  The younger child looks up to the older child as a role model, instilling the older child with a desire to be a leader.

two girls reading at preschool

Discourages competition.

The mixed age classrooms fosters a broad spectrum of abilities, and does not push a child to develop at the same rate as his or her peers.  While children of this age do not typically compete for academics, parents may feel unnecessary pressure when comparing their child.  In addition, conventional program teachers may unconsciously compare a child with peers while Montessori teachers cannot look at the overall classroom development due to the wide age-range.  Instead, they look for a child’s individual development over the course of three years

Encourages a growth mindset.

Children just entering the Children’s House quickly understand that they can only progress with the materials after the foundations are laid by the teacher instructing them.  They observe older classmates working with the materials, engaging their curiosity and desire to learn.  They must work towards the ability to use the more advanced materials, and they experience the joy of attaining their goal. 

Enhances language development.

In a classroom of mixed ages, language is not simplified.  Instead, teachers use the same, precise language for all ages.  As a three-year old develops, he comes to understand the concepts and meaning behind his teacher’s instruction.  Not only that, but he listens to his older classmates speak with one another and listens as a teacher gives a presentation to an older friend.  As he listens, he absorbs the language and begins to use it himself.  His vocabulary is enhanced by the mixed-age classroom.