Posted on by Helena Eddings


When families are introduced to Montessori, one of the aspects that is often the most surprising, is the mixed-age classrooms.

It can be rather dramatic to see a big six-year-old, working alongside a three-year-old. To even hear, “this is a classroom for children from two-and-a-half to six,” takes a minute to process. In Elementary classrooms there might be children six to nine, or nine to twelve, or even six to twelve! What different capacities and interests these children have. What different materials and developments these children are undertaking.


So, why are they in the same classroom?

There are a few reasons we absolutely love having children of varying ages working and learning together.

 The children care for one another. With different ages and abilities, the children are always looking out for one another. The older children have the opportunity to care for the younger children; trying out initiative and patience, practicing zippers and tying bows, solidifying new and previously mastered knowledge. Younger children shine bright when they receive help from an older child, knowing even they can wash a dish, wipe a spill, help carry a table.


The children learn from one another. Younger children admire older children so much. Older children feel a sense of responsibility and pride when helping younger children. There’s lovely conversation being modeled, new vocabulary being introduced, careful syntax being practiced. Younger children may not be ready for “million” or for “verb” they do benefit from this language being used around them. When they are ready for this work, it comes with a beautiful emotional connection when they remember that magical big kid who did this work when he was “little.” Older children seeing a classmate unable to complete his work are reminded that they, too, were unable to finish that work, the work they’re now the expert at, and they offer kind assistance.

The children are preparing for life. How often do we actually only work with colleagues our own age? Apart from the first twelve years of school, and even then it’s limited, our lives are enriched by diverse ages, backgrounds, interests, and aptitudes. We’re learning and teaching at every age. In a family, a child might have fallen into a specific role; only child, oldest, youngest. Being in a mixed- age classroom is an opportunity to try on different roles.

Adapted from Baan Dek

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West Side Montessori is an independent, accredited Montessori school educating children 13 months through 8th grade (preschool, kindergarten, elementary and middle school) with locations at 13587 Roachton Rd in Perrysburg, Ohio, and 7115 W. Bancroft Street in Toledo, Ohio.