Multi-Age Classrooms

It looks like today is the day to return to the Montessori series on how to invite children to learn.

One of the key features of the Montessori classrooms is that they are always arranged in multi-age groups, for example a preschool or Primary class would have 3 to 6 year olds, Lower Elementary would have 6 to 9 year olds, and Upper Elementary would have 9 to 12 year olds.

Multi-age classrooms support an invitation to learning in several ways:

  • Each child has three years to complete the curriculum at their own pace.
  • It presents a different sort of big picture for children, a glimpse of the big picture of their own development.  When they observe the work of the younger children they can see where they have been.  When they observe the work of the older children they can see where they are headed.  A child may remark “when I started here I couldn’t climb to the top of the monkey bars but now I can” or observe that another child is reading and remark that they will learn to do that too.
  • The atmosphere is non-competitive: children are aware that some children can do work that others can’t but it provides a sense of excitement for what lies ahead or feelings of accomplishment as there is no sense that the child’s progress is being compared to the progress of same-age peers.

There are no “good” or “bad” students in a Montessori classroom.  There is just work that a child has mastered and work that the child will master along with plenty of positive learning role models.  There is also the opportunity to be a leader and a role model themselves as they become one of the older children in the classroom.