The beauty of the mixed-age classroom, one of the cornerstones of Montessori philosophy, is the way it introduces younger children to new skills modeled by older children, who then get the opportunity to assist and encourage their younger friends.
In the above photo, the most recent friend to join our classroom explores the pattern blocks. He has seen his friends match the animals parts to make a picture; while he has yet to master that skill, he is focused with great concentration on fitting the blocks into the box and takes great pride each time he accomplishes his task.
In a matter of days, just from observing his classmates, this new friend learned to carry his plate to the dish bin, empty his milk in the bucket, and bring his place mat to the laundry basket.
It is wonderful to see the joy and satisfaction the children take in developing their capabilities and independence.