Multi-age classroom

“The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.” –Maria Montessori

Dr. Maria Montessori

Our upper elementary guide asked a sixth-year student to show me his work today. He was working on the Pythagorean Theorem. She wanted me to see his work because she knows I show the Pythagorean Theorem material to almost everyone I tour through upper elementary, because I really love that material. It makes concrete the phrase “the sum of the square of the two sides equals the square of the hypotenuse.”

The sixth year students had asked for this presentation because when they were still in fourth grade they all witnessed the then-sixth year students do this advanced work. As fourth graders, they were presented the Pythagorean Theorem, and they noticed that the sixth graders “got to” do it in a more complex, advanced fashion. Two years later, before they leave for their sixth grade trip and end their three years in upper elementary, they wanted that presentation.

The multi-age classroom places the child in the midst of a three year curriculum. The child is constantly watching the opportunities that will come as he or she advances along that curriculum. So fourth graders notice what sixth graders do, and they don’t want to leave without asking for the lessons.

The multi-age setting is a natural setting, the way we live our lives. It’s the way we learn language in a family, and it is often the way we learn how to do our jobs as we seek out the more experienced people as mentors. The multi-age classroom creates an environment that is rich and compelling, and it feels like home.

Explore posts in the same categories: elementary education, Montessori Method

One Comment on “Multi-age classroom”

  1. Pat Fitzpatrick Says:

    Dan, I’m not even going to pretend I knew anything about Pythagorean Theorem when I was in the 4th or 6th grade, but having gone through 8 grades in a four-room school house, I distinctly remember listening to lessons being taught to (and presentations being made by) students a grade above me. I’m sure those teachers in the 1940’s were not familiar with the teachings of Marie Montessorri, but we certainly had a taste of what your students are experiencing in GSMS. We had the benefit of learning by reaching beyond our “grade level.”

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