Parents frequently ask why Montessori classes group children by two to three year age groups, when primary schools group students by their birth year.
This question is often promoted by parents that are concerned that the younger children will struggle and take up all of the teacher’s time, or that the older children won’t thrive because they aren’t given the stimulation and challenges they need to progress. These concerns are misguided.
The reasons why Montessori classrooms are grouped in two to three year age groups are based on the following principles:
In mixed age classes, children tend to stay in the same class for two to three years. With two-thirds of the class returning each year, the culture in the classroom tends to remain quite stable. This allows children to focus on learning instead of transitioning to a new classroom each year.
2. Role Modelling
Grouping children of different ages encourages them to develop strong social and collaboration skills. In mixed age classrooms, the younger children learn from the older children, and the older children learn to serve as role models.
3. Development Based Curriculum
The Montessori program and materials in the toddler and preschool classrooms are designed to address the development needs that are common to both age groups. This allows children to find peers that are working at their current level without having to skip a grade, or be held back, which could leave them feeling emotionally or developmentally out of place.