When our children are young, we often hear that smaller classrooms and a higher teacher-to-student ratio is better. It only makes sense, right? Because then our kids are able to get more one-on-one attention – or so it seems. However, Dr. Montessori disagrees. In fact, she encourages a larger classroom size saying that, “in it’s best condition, the class should have 28-35 children, but there may be even more in number.” This can be a difficult adjustment for parents, but keep in mind that Montessori education is very different from the traditional structure.
Traditional Education Vs. Montessori Education
With traditional education, children are placed into classes based on their age and the curriculum is taught by the teacher to the student. On the other hand, in Montessori education, children work independently to learn and improve their skills while the teacher is only there to help guide them occasionally.
The idea behind the larger number of children per classroom is that it takes the focus away from the teacher themselves and encourages the students to learn from each other and work together.
Not only are the classroom sizes different, but Dr. Montessori believed that varying the ages for each classroom would allow the children to form relationships that could give them unlimited potential to learn from each other and grow. For this reason, children are placed in classrooms that span 3 years in age such as; one classroom for ages 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, etc. The teacher typically introduces materials and the children can either learn individually or work together in small groups. With such a wide range of age, each child is able to find others on their same developmental level which can really encourage them to continue to learn.
Don’t let the classroom sizes scare you away from a Montessori environment! You can observe a classroom to witness the children learning from each other first hand – it really is an experience you’ll never forget.