Behavior of the Children:
There is always a busy hum of activity in a Montessori classroom. The use of the materials involves many motions… walking, carrying, pouring, speaking, and particularly the constant using of the hands. All activity, however, is guided by a respect for the teacher, a respect for the work of others, and a respect for the materials themselves. Dr. Montessori never equated goodness with silence and immobility. Self discipline, she felt, should be acquired gradually through absorption in meaningful work. If a child misbehaves in the classroom the teacher usually helps him to select work which will more fully absorb his attention.
In Montessori, competition in education should be introduced only after the child has gained confidence in the use of his basic skills. “Never let a child risk failure”, Dr. Montessori wrote, “until he has a reasonable chance of success.”
Why Mixed Age Groups:
Having children ages three to five together permits the younger children models for imitation and the older children an opportunity to reinforce their own knowledge by helping the younger ones.
It is a well established fact that preschool children mature at very different rates and their periods of readiness for academic subjects vary greatly. Because interest is stimulated and the materials are at hand whenever a child is ready, some youngsters in a Montessori class begin to read and calculate at an earlier age. However, very early learning is not the norm, nor was it ever Dr. Montessori’s objective. Her ideal was only that the learning experience should occur naturally and joyfully at the proper moment for each child. “It is true, we cannot make a genius,” Dr. Montessori once wrote, “we can only give each individual child the chance to fulfill his potential possibilities to become an independent, secure and balanced human being”.