The Community of Children
An essential part of the learning environment is the other children in it. The Montessori classroom provides ample opportunities for making friends, interacting with others, developing consideration for others, learning how to cooperate and fostering a sense of interdependence.
In the prepared environment, cooperation and a sense of community are stressed. individual differences are easily accepted and appreciated while each child is treated and taught as an individual. Children of different ages are together in the same group. This provides abundant opportunities for learning and helps to create a sense of family while everyone contributes and takes responsibility for the functioning and maintenance of the environment.
Because of the multi-aged group, the classroom has a heritage. The older children provide leadership, guidance and act as models for the younger children. The older children also benefit by helping younger children, reinforcing previous skills and knowledge and benefiting from the satisfaction of helping others. The mix of ages also provides opportunities for a variety of safe, lasting and meaningful friendships.
The social life of the children is a vital aspect of the Montessori classroom and curriculum. Assisting the social skills, development and abilities of children is vital to the implementation of an effective Montessori program. It is important that the complexities and ups I downs of relationships are supported and enhanced by adults sensitive to the needs and social development of children.