A second component of the Early Childhood Montessori classroom environment is the mixed-age group model. The assembly of this division is in line with Dr. Montessori’s research on what she called the four planes of development. This becomes a great benefit to each child, and it is due to the model’s dependence on the principle of imitation. Children learn by example, so we can attest. What is it about the multi-aged classrooms that benefit both the younger and the older child? It is a unique opportunity to seek out answers in an experienced and collaborative group of community learners. The younger students learn as they go, they grow gradually more accustomed to the culture and expectations of their class society, while at the same time developing their concentration skills. The students in their second year practice learned concepts and develop greater intellectual and social aptitude. The older students truly become leaders, remarkably responsible and well-prepared to impart their own understanding to a younger child. This creatively established education model allows the child and their peers another strategic avenue to take on challenge.
These components serve the great development of Maria Montessori’s discovery of “The Absorbent Mind.” This, we know is the child’s own capacity. It is an intellectual capacity, but it incorporates an emotional, physical and social intelligence. In the Early Childhood years, it becomes a conscious acceptance of one’s own environment, in which the child takes in, or “absorbs” what they need, and in fact a great deal more, to survive. The Absorbent Mind involves each child’s potential to understand the complexities and qualities of their own world.
Competency is learned, and confidence is earned. It is the child’s choice to truly become a Montessori learner. It is the purpose of our work to lay the foundation, where a child may develop within their own character, with reason and grace. The children we serve are brave, intelligent and generous on their own accord; however it is by the spectacular design of our own Maria Montessori, that they make themselves independent.
By Kellie Gibson, September 5, 2013