Q: What are the benefits of students being mentors for their peers alongside a Montessori teacher?
A: “Montessori focuses on the children being the collaborators and the adult being there as a steppingstone for them,” says Kate Wright, administrative manager at Cleveland Montessori School. “The older students have already been in the room — most of them for two years — so they have the benefit of learning from that adult guide first and then being able to take what they know and share it. People usually think of older students helping younger ones, but it is not uncommon to see a 3-year-old helping another 3-year-old. Whether it is an academic lesson or helping to solve an emotional, social or spiritual conflict, the students really are the mentors in the classroom. It is just a natural thing that occurs because [they are] aware of classroom routines and realize that helping each other, in turn, helps their own selves grow.”