In a nutshell, the Montessori method allows children to experience the joy of learning at an early age, while promoting the development of independence, concentration and self-discipline, and fostering love and respect for others and their environment.
The aim is to encourage active, self-directed learning and to strike a balance of individual mastery with small group collaboration within the whole group community.
Children are free to work at their own pace with materials they have chosen, either alone or with others. The teacher relies on his or her observations of the children to determine which new activities and materials may be introduced to an individual child or to a small or large group.
The multi-age community interaction is intrinsic to Montessori. The Montessori Casa classroom has three age groups within the same class, allowing children to learn from each other. The multi-age grouping in each class provides a family-like setting where learning can take place naturally.
Benefits of multi-age classes:
- The more experienced children share what they have learned, reinforcing their own knowledge and skills. This encourages rich language experiences, and opportunities for the development of empathy and social learning.
- Children are able to work at their own pace. Teachers are free to spend more time in certain areas with a student if needed, allowing others to move forward at their own pace.
- Teaching to the individual as opposed to the group allows for more flexibility.
- Younger children are able to shadow others and absorb what the older ones are doing, and the older children become role models and gain self-esteem.
- Conflict resolution skills and empathy develop as a result.
- These interactions over the three year span develop strong sense of community, love of learning and self-confidence.