Mixed Age Classrooms in Montessori School

Mixed Ages in Montessori Classrooms: Montessori Moments

Last month I talked about the classroom environment in an authentic Montessori school. This month I thought I would add-on to that topic and talk about the children who are in that class room.

Mixed Age Classrooms in Montessori School

Many other schools and childcare providers group children together by level of development and 6-9 month age ranges (maybe about 1 year difference at the most). With Montessori they use a mixed-age approach, with a 3 year rule. So within a Montessori school, you would see a pre-primary class with 0-3 year olds (Lennox’s school doesn’t start until 17/18 months – 3 (ish) years), primary class is 3-6 years old and secondary is 6-9 (and so on…).

So focusing on what I already know, Lennox is in the Pre-Primary Montessori class (for a little while longer). When she started, she was about 17 months old, but she had enough skills to enter the classroom before turning 18 months. The other children in her class range from that age to a little over 3 years old. At 3 they start transitioning the child into the Primary Montessori classroom (as long as they potty trained fully and have met all other developmental milestones). That is when the main Montessori journey really begins, from what I hear.

When we started at this school, I knew Lennox would love being with the “big kids”. With her previous child care situation, she was in a home with other older children, and always tagged along with them, rather than playing w/ children the same age as her. She fit in no problem and this has kept being the case as she has continued with her schooling now.

So why the big age differences in the Montessori environment? There are a number of reasons; Learning/Development, Community and Teacher-Student Familiarity.

Learning/Development: Maria Montessori believed that the interaction and development between the mixed ages would benefit the children. They will learn from each other and help each other. The young children can ask for help from the older children, while still learning and the older children learn to help the younger children. They learn to help and responsibility along with a sense of pride and accomplishment. The older children in the class will have to learn to be more patient and tolerance while a younger child tries to succeed at a new task.

Community: Other than learning from each other, children who are in the Montessori environment build a great sense of community. The main friends Lennox has had, she has had now for over a year. It is nice when you get to stay with the same children/families for a longer period of time. Some of these friendships, hopefully will last all the way through the primary level and into the secondary if we/they continue on.

Parent/Teacher/Student Relationship:  The natural relationship that forms between a younger child and their teacher can be great. In Montessori school, when you can be with the same teacher for up to 3 years, a great relationship can form and that teacher will help guide you through your learnings. The teacher learns the way you learn, the best way to encourage you and what your weaknesses are, so that they can better help you develop all around.

“The child’s progress does not depend only on his age, but also on being free to look around him.” – Maria Montessori

Montessori school can be criticized for the long stretch of time with some of the same children, same teacher and some see it as isolating, but so far, we have had the opposite issue. Lennox is 110% comfortable at school, she loves going and doesn’t want to leave. To me, that is a successful school experience!

Do you have any thoughts/questions about about this type of classroom model? 

Interested in more Montessori Topics? Check out all the Montessori Moments topics.

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9 thoughts on “Mixed Ages in Montessori Classrooms: Montessori Moments

    1. Heather

      Owen is really at the ideal age now! What part of it is Hubs not sold on? I honestly knew NOTHING about it, until we started. I thought it was to out there for us, tell you the truth, but I was very wrong.

      Reply
  1. Chelsey

    My MIL teaches Primary Montessori in FL. She loves it! We are planning to homeschool Curtis, but next Fall I am starting preschool with him, and doing a Montessori version (my MIL has tons of supplies she’s sending me!) Love reading about your experience with Montessori, keep up the good work 😉

    Reply
  2. Jenn L

    We homeschool, but there are many things that are similar in Montessori – such as having that community and working with others of differing ages. I wouldn’t trade those for the world and think they make for a much more well-rounded education overall!
    I’m glad your little one is thriving! 🙂

    Reply
  3. Emily

    My sons both attend an AMI school, my 12 year old was home-schooled through age 9 and missed primary, my younger started this year (at 3.5 years) in primary.
    The way my younger son behaves in the classroom, calm with grace and definitely a sense of grounding – it is like a light switch that turns on when he walks in that magical room. He comes home talking about binomial cubes and I am impressed. When he talks about the days spent cleaning tables and polishing my inlaws are less impressed but I know that they foundation work in these tasks will all help him with penmanship, reading, etc. It is amazing the amount of thought and care given to a simple task like cleaning a table. The sweeping circles mimic the “a”s in penmanship. The table is cleaned from left to right mimicking the eye tracking for reading and movement of writing. It really is a cool system and I am thankful that we received support for them to attend. No places around us offer AMI assistants to infancy programs or my 1 year old daughter would be in a class too!

    Reply
  4. Censie

    Jude starts at a Montessori school in August! I cannot wait. I think this is the best “program” for him because he is so active and smart. I cannot wait to share stories!!

    Reply
  5. Maria

    Thank you for this wonderful overview of the Montessori philosophy and education! It will definitely be shared.
    I am a music teacher and work with the Suzuki method fro teaching young children. I had started two music programs at local Montessori schools. A lot of the ideas from these philosophies are very similar and complement each other. I think the Montessori environment is wonderful, especially for very young children.
    Maria
    http://www.musicteachingandparenting.com/2013/04/the-suzuki-method.html

    Reply
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