Dr. Montessori believed mixed age groups were essential to learning in a Montessori environment, mimicking interactions in family life and the real world. In our classrooms, the three-year age span allows for older, experienced third-year students to become mentors to their younger, first- and second-year peers, guiding them through all aspects of the classroom from learning new concepts to routines of the day. Extending beyond a single classroom, our Reading Buddies program connects our upper elementary students with kindergarten children, who are often just beginning to read. The elementary children develop skills of leadership, empathy and patience, while refining their own reading abilities. The primary children look up to their older partners and are eager to share their newfound skills. Our students look forward to this special tradition, which creates strong bonds across the levels.