In Primary and Elementary, children remain in the same classroom for a three-year cycle, which is an integral component of an authentic Montessori school.
Relationships come first. Children learn best when they feel secure and connected. The three year cycle allows each child to establish a close bond with their teachers. MdTL parents often marvel at how well their child's teacher knows them and sees them for who they are.
In our multi-age classrooms, genuine friendships naturally form across grade levels. Our alumni often stay connected with the friends they met in Primary long after they have graduated.
Learning from Older Students
The younger children in the class have countless opportunities to learn from their older peers, both through observing the big work they do and through student-given lessons. The younger students emulate their older classmates and strive higher, much like the younger child in a family learns from older siblings.
There is no better way to solidify what you know than to teach it to someone else. Older students naturally mentor their younger peers and have many opportunities to give lessons. They gain leadership experience and develop patience.
In the Upper Elementary classrooms, students participate in a formal peer mentorship program, where the 6th year students serve as mentors to a group of 4th and 5th years. Mentors answer questions, from social emotional needs to academics.
"Leadership by example continues to happen, day in and day out." Zarrin Atkins, Upper Elementary Head Teacher
Being a member of a multi-age classroom gives students endless opportunities to exercise their "empathy muscles". Each child experiences three different roles: the youngest, middle and oldest. The older students remember what it was like being the youngest and who they looked up to, and when it is their turn, they embrace their roles as gracious leaders in the class.
A multi-age classroom gives students the opportunity to develop communication skills. We live in a multi-age world — from family structure to the workplace, children need practice with communicating with others of different ages and skill levels. In MdTL's multi-age classrooms, students learn to recognize that everyone has strengths and something to contribute as well as areas where they may need extra support.
Our mixed-age classrooms give students the opportunity to work at their own pace. Our teachers are exceptionally skilled in both keeping students challenged and allowing for more practice or time when needed. As a result, students feel supported and practice becomes the standard for learning any new skill. There is no stigma associated with needing more time. Every child has strengths and areas for growth.