In the Montessori circles, the expression "Mixed age group" is often used because it is one of the very important features of any Montessori environment, whether it is a kindergarten or a primary class. What does the term mean? As a rule, Montessori calculates learning based on the age of the child and not on the class, degree, or standard in which the child is studying. When children of three, four and five years of age work together in a study without being separated into departments, this & # 39; mixed age group & # 39; called. Many pedagogues find this absurd and unproductive. When there is freedom to work, there is freedom in education. In such a case, the mixed age group reveals its benefits.
Human life gives an image of interdependence. The life of plants, animals or people cannot do without others. We can say the same about the lives of children and adults. Needless to say that members of every community are interdependent. In a Montessori House of Children this is also very clear. But this interdependence can only be understood if there is sufficient opportunity to give and to take. In the real sense, giving and taking cannot happen if all members of a community have the same need at the same time. When the community has a mixed age group, the older children provide assistance to the younger children. By giving that help they become better and stronger individuals. Getting help in an elegant way naturally comes to younger children. In turn, they also offer help to the older children. The classroom is a miniature world where this healthy interaction takes place.
This interaction leads to a degree of social cohesion that becomes very visible even to an ordinary eye. Very often, employees in Montessori Houses of Children notice how the newcomers to the House of Children get used to life there, especially because of the way the older children are loved by the younger ones. It has been noted that the new children settle down faster when they are helped by the older children. This can only happen if they live in the same room. The togetherness grows almost like magic. How can this be possible if all children are of the same age and have the same needs?
In the reverse order, we see that the older children spontaneously take charge of the younger ones. The sense of responsibility with which they take over surprises the viewer. This is especially evident during the first days of newly admitted children who are, as it were, the stage of & # 39; transplantation & # 39; run through. Some older children & # 39; adopt & # 39; younger children literally and keep themselves responsible. This situation only occurs in a mixed age group.
This social cohesion is clear and the natural consequence of this is the disappearance of any form of envy, jealousy, if any. Children normally do not have these negative emotions. But Montessori notes that this input comes from the adults in the area. Words apparently intended as encouragement bring these seeds into the mind of the child. "See how your friend comes first in class, see how your friends can recite all the poems the teacher has learned", etc. If we realize that each child is unique, we would not make these comments. In a Children's House, the teacher has the responsibility not to compare children at the latest. When the children make such comparisons themselves, it is very healthy. Children have shown the work of their friend. "How nice this is! My friend did this" is a frequently heard statement. The mixed age group offers ample opportunity for this.
Educationalists often note that competition is good for development. True enough that it provides the incentive to function and to function better. In implementing this idea, adults very often resort to methods that lead to unhealthy competition. When the children make the comparisons themselves, this is in a spirit of joy and appreciation. It is not always the case that younger children compete with older ones, but vice versa.
Spontaneous and unrestrained appreciation of work at different levels and therefore, from different perspectives, it becomes possible, in the Montessori classroom, work is done at different levels of efficiency. Children learn to look at different aspects of things.
There is an unsaid rule that the child can work with those materials, only those that are presented to them. He would see materials intended for other age groups and should contain himself. Such an exercise of the will reinforces it. Needless to say how important the exercise of one's will power is in life.
We recognize this fact that the mixed age group ensures a judicious distribution of materials among children of all ages. If the class were of the same age group, there would be more demand for the same materials and some materials would remain unused because the children did not reach the stage of use or have gone beyond the stage.
The child learns to implement the code of conduct that mobilizes his attention for others. Children do not need constant reminders about the behavior of adults in their environment. The older children live by these codes of conduct and the younger children learn by example instead of by prescription. The mixed age group makes it possible.
The implementation of activities of different levels of development appears to be indirect stimulation for further activity. The youngest apparently have & # 39; an example & # 39; of things that will come in the future. This happens when they see the older ones work. This observation is likely to encourage the children to request presentations. When the older children see the younger perform, they almost revive their previous activities. This serves as a reinforcement (or, say, revision) of what they have already mastered. Can we ever imagine a child in the second standard that he does what he had already done while in the first standard?
Montessori says the child's absorbing spirit has not completely disappeared. Children who belong to all age groups would perform activities that belong to all areas of development activities. In a manner of speaking, the educational concepts in the environment & # 39; live & # 39; (be put into practice). The child learns different things without knowing it, the effort that does not make the child tired at all! What else do we want for a happy, healthy and sustainable education?