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Kids aren’t always separated by age for learning. Think of the family unit. Multiple ages growing together. There are many benefits of mixed age groups in daycare and other learning environments. See more about running a home daycare here.
Communities of people with different backgrounds of different ages create a vibrant and joyful experience. Bringing children of different ages together through mixed age groups aims to give a diverse community with many benefits. It nurtures children’s intellectual and social groups.
Mixed age groups in early childhood
Younger children working in mixed age groups are capable of contributing to complex activities and mix well with other children as they all learn to understand each other. It builds confidence in younger children and enhances behavioral and especially language skills. Older children learn to mentor, build responsibility, and have empathy.
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In mixed age environments, children get to have unique and fun learning opportunities. Mixed age groups allow for children to have their own voice and to interact rather than compete. They can nourish their own abilities and strength in a better way. This makes the learning environment more fun and more effective.
Children learn more cooperation skills and learn to care for others as well as themselves in these types of groups. They build security from being in a group with someone higher and someone lower than them in experience. This builds confidence.
Mixed age groups in daycare build problem-solving skills. They build life skills as well as academic performance.
One of the great benefits of home daycare that makes the quality higher than center care is the mixed age groups. It’s so good for the kids to learn from all ages of people. It’s how groups of children were designed by God to be and this shows in the example of the family. Very few families have all children of the same age.
When children are divided up by age, of course, it’s simpler for the teacher to make lesson plans and create activities with a certain thing in mind. But the multi age setting can still be easy. It just takes some time to learn how it can best work.
Learning to create activities based on children’s interests and letting them drive where the teaching will go is a great skill for any teacher to learn. It works particularly well with multi age settings. Because the children’s abilities and knowledge base will drive the teaching in the direction needed for the most benefit to the most children.
Mixed age preschool pros and cons
Kids learn more complex language and methods of play from older children. They also learn how to care for the needs of others above themselves from younger kids. It’s not necessary for the entire class to move as a group through milestones and achievements. Each child can focus on their individual interest and skills without expectation from other children in a multi age setting.
Continuity of care from the same teacher is another benefit of home daycare and multi age settings.
One of the cons of mixed age classrooms could be that older children are more likely to detach themselves from the rest of the group. In addition, they may lose interest in the teacher-directed activities if they don’t perceive them as challenging enough.
It’s difficult to measure the real benefits long-term of mixing ages together in one learning environment. That’s a difficult thing for science to capture.
Multi age classrooms
Montessori teaching embraces the mixing of different age groups together. In everyday life as adults, we are not divided by age. We work with different aged people and play with different aged people as well.
Collaboration is encouraged with people of all cultures, ages, and abilities and that’s the beauty of living life! Starting this in early childhood is a perfect way to prepare children to be wonderful grown up and live quality lives.
Younger kids can encourage older kids by sharing their enthusiasm, energy, and wonder. They also have more needs and older kids can learn to see the needs of others and be caring and nurturing. This prepares them for parenthood and many careers that require care and kindness.
A teacher in a multi age environment must be very skilled and good at facilitating the environment. They must have expertise and empathy. There must be a lot of freedom to meet children’s own needs and explore things on their own.
Younger kids, while watching older kids will learn about how their knowledge and skills will progress in the future as well. It’s remarkable. And even more neurons are firing in the brain than natural learning already causes in a single age classroom. The brain is an amazing thing.
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Multi age learning
Being exposed to different personalities, talents, and interests builds learning and helps children learn to think across multiple functions. Building skill sets and learning to be comfortable in different scenarios. It’s stimulating and interesting enough for all of the children to learn spontaneously.
Leadership roles can be assigned based on outgoing personalities rather than age. Even a shy older child will be given more opportunities to lead because younger children will look up to them. This builds self-esteem for the shy child and gives them a better future as well. There is respect and value for each person’s work. There is a lot of collaboration.
Prosocial behaviors such as help-giving, turn-taking, and sharing promote socialization which is the biggest factor in future school success. Increasing social awareness helps children all throughout life. Social skills are a far more important school readiness goal than anything else we could teach children.
The benefits of multi age classrooms in early childhood learning can’t be fully measured, but they are numerous and plenty. Arranging classrooms without dividing by age is a great way to expand learning for all the age groups involved.
I have always loved the value of home daycare for this benefit as well as countless others. When I have been asked to open a center for childcare on numerous occasions, I always made the plans out with multi age classrooms because I think it’s such a wonderful experience for kids, and it provides for more continuity of care with one teacher for more than one year. I love that experience for kids.
I highly recommend you look into how it could be done where you teach or where your child learns. Because it’s a wonderful gift to all involved.