“Hey, can I play too?” a curious three-year old boy asked an older friend. “Sure!” the older boy, age 4.5 in his second year in the Preschool classroom, replied with a smile. “What are you playing?” the younger boy asked. The older child proceeded to explain he was doing a math work. He showed his new friend how he ordered the numerals first, then sorted all of the objects and then counted the objects and matched them to the corresponding numerals. The younger child was fascinated and watched with patience and wide eyes. When the older boy was finished with his work, he was overheard asking the younger boy, “Would you like to try now?” They worked together and eventually cleaned up the materials and put them away together with great teamwork.
The Montessori classroom provides a multi-age environment, which has multiple benefits. The younger students look to the older students for assistance and can often accomplish tasks they might not have been able to do on their own. Independence and competence are increased in the older students as they mentor their younger peers. The children are observed cooperating rather than competing and as a whole create a nurturing little community of learners who support and care for each other.
“The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul.”