A Montessori elementary school has a nontraditional structure that mixes children in a small range of ages: 6-9 and 9-12 years old. Non-Montessori families, or those new to the system, might think it’s disadvantageous to older students or too difficult for younger students. However, if mixed-age groups were truly detrimental to education, Montessori schools wouldn’t use them.
The mixed-aged structure is used in all Montessori programs, including Montessori preschool, and has multiple benefits, with advantages in three key areas: developmental, academic, and social.
Developmental Benefits of Mixed-Age Groups
The founder of the Montessori method, Dr. Maria Montessori, observed that classrooms encompassing several years greatly benefited children. Though of different years, they were of similar child development stages. Instead of keeping children born within the same year, children were mixed with others who were at different, but not drastically different, development stages. This structure acknowledges that development isn’t linear, and can be holistically supported when older students are role models for younger students, and younger students provide older students with mentorship opportunities.
For some families, developmental benefits are enough to sign their child up for Montessori elementary school. Some parents also supplement their child’s education with exciting after school activities that encourage confidence, and are sometimes offered by Montessori schools as extracurricular enrichment.
Academic Benefits of Mixed-Age Groups
The largest academic benefit in mixed-age groups is that teachers can observe and better understand how each child learns over a longer time. They observe how learning styles change, and can better assist children in their discoveries. This also allows teachers and children to form an academic partnership. Likewise, as children grow up, they can become academic mentors for younger children, as teaching is one of the best ways to master skills. Along with the self-driven component of the Montessori method, children develop confidence that will follow them to their next school, whether a Montessori middle school or another private or public school.
Social Benefits of Mixed-Age Groups
Montessori elementary schools are also meant to develop a child’s emotional intelligence. Mixed-age groups give children diverse and advanced lessons in social intelligence that aren’t offered by traditional schooling. Children build confidence and skills in socializing with children younger and older than themselves. This flexibility in communication extends to other ages outside of school. Children are also encouraged to welcome and lead new students, building mentorship abilities and confidence.
Children who graduate from Montessori elementary school—or any authentic Montessori program—have gone on to excel in advanced education and their professional careers. With multiple generations having benefited from the Montessori method, it’s worth looking into Montessori elementary school when your child reaches 6 years of age.