Wheaton Montessori News
“The indirect learning that occurs among students is a primary reason for placing of children of different ages in one environment. The youngest children are guaranteed [to have] models for more mature behavior than they themselves are capable of performing. The older children have opportunities to develop their potential for leadership and social responsibility.
This indirect learning occurs in the intellectual area as well. Younger children observe the older children work with materials that they will use in the future. Older children spontaneously help the younger ones with materials that have already been introduced to the younger children, but which they have not yet mastered.
In addition, the children’s social relationship with the [the classroom teachers] is enhanced by the inclusion of children of three different ages in the classroom. The children … remain with one teacher for a total of three years before going on to the next level. The possibilities for depth of relationship, positive influence by the teacher, and modeling of behavior are greatly increased…. There are three years in which the child can reach the goals of formation. The teacher can be patient and have faith in each child’s natural rhythm of development.” – Paula Polk Lillard, “Montessori Today: A Comprehensive Approach to Education from Birth to Adulthood.