Mixed Age Classrooms

Why Mixed-Age?

“I can never teach my pupils;

I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” – Albert Einstein

There are many unique ingredients that create the wonderful recipe of “Montessori Magic.” One of these features is the multi-aged environment.  What does that actually mean?  It means that based on the Four Planes of Development, studied and summarized by Dr. Montessori, children learn better in a mixed-aged classroom. Instead of all six year olds (by September 1st) placed in one room together called 1st Grade –  classrooms are divided up in this way: 0-3 year; 3-6 years; 6-9 years; 9-12 years; 12-15; and 15-18 years. Ideally, there are two teacher guides in each room, one leading and one assisting.  There are a variety of stimulating materials that range from easy to difficult and usually take about three years to understand and master all the work.  These groupings allow for some advantages, as described by Maren Schmidt in her book “Understanding Montessori.”  These advantages are:

Children develop on their own schedule

Children should advance based on developmental needs not chronological age

Younger children learn and observe older ones who are stimulating and inspiring

Older children help younger ones and fulfill a need to be useful and kind

Children can have both remedial work or advanced work all in the same room