Mixed age groups in Montessori classrooms

I often come across parents wondering how the concept of mixed age groups works in a classroom set up. 
This blog will take you through all the reasons why Montessori classrooms have children of mixed age groups working together. 
Dr. Maria Montessori observed children of different cultures, countries and age groups and derived at a conclusion that children between 0-3 and 3-6 have similar planes of development.
Dr Maria Montessori

Research has proved that children's' emotional, mental and psychological needs are met within mixed age groups.

Here are some of the reasons why children should learn to work with different age groups:

1. Sensitive periods: Children aged between 0-3 and 3-6 have the same sensitive periods and therefore they all are interested in similar activities. Characteristics acquired by the older children inspire the younger ones to grasp faster.

2. Language development: Language development is accelerated in a set up where children are of mixed age groups. The younger children listen to and benefit from the older ones who have fluency in their spoken and written language. So not only do these younger ones benefit from teachers giving the language but also their peers.
An older child reading to younger children

3. Social development: In a Montessori school, the very fact that children are of different ages promotes development of social life. Children of different ages help each other. Older children feel a sense of responsibility towards the younger ones. The younger children find more comfort in associating with older children than adults. A five year old can often teach a new skill to a 3 year old with movement and dexterity unmatched by almost any adult. A child, just like any adult works in collaboration with all those around him and this is the beginning of his/her social development.

Accepting responsibilities

4. Mutual benefits: Children are free to offer and receive help from each other. This in turn helps the older children to build their self-confidence and consolidate their knowledge. The younger ones absorb what the older children do and they learn purely by their observation skills.

5. Give and take relationship: Each child that enters a Montessori environment enters as a receiver and he grows up to be a giver. Isn't this pretty much how our life works? We are all givers and receivers at some or the other stages of our life.

6. Non-competitive environment: Mixed age groups remove the elements of competition. Since children are all working on different activities at the same time, there is no question of comparison or competition. Therefore, there is no element of failure too. It is an environment of cooperation and encouragement.

7. Real life set up: We all work and live with people of varied age groups. We learn from experiences of older people and teach those younger to us. So this classroom provides pretty much the same experience as you would in your actual life.

In conclusion, children learn a lot through imitation as well as experimentation. They don’t only look up to their peers, they also look forward to becoming like them one day, and being able to help others and show others what they are able to do and have learned.

We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity-Maria Montessori