One of the beautiful things about the Montessori method is that it is based on multi-age classrooms. With only approximately 2/3’s of the children moving up each year, the majority of the class is well-versed in how the classroom operates so that they become natural “teachers” for the new children. Having children remain in the same class for three years also builds the sense of community and responsibility. When children do move up to the next level, however, they see many familiar faces of the children who moved up before them. That makes them more comfortable and again establishes a new, yet comfortable sense of community at an even more mature level. However, maybe the most important reason for having the multi-age classroom is how it fosters the children’s self-esteem. For the oldest children, they have an opportunity to practice their leadership skills, as well as, their academic skills as they help younger children. For the youngest children, they watch the older students and want to be able to do the same things they do. This creates intrinsic motivation. The teacher doesn’t have to force the younger child to learn; they want to do what they see others doing! Last but not least, spending three years in the same classroom allows each child to experience all of the social roles (the youngest, the middle child, the oldest) no matter what their birth order is at home. Montessori classrooms simply would not be the same without the multi-age component.
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