Mixed Age Learning Groups
In Pinnacle we believe that communication with parents and their involvement not only extent teaching way beyond the classroom, but also generally makes a child's learning experience positive. Therefore we have created a series of educational articles which will serve parents as a pacing guide through our learning approach.
The academics at Pinnacle Learning Center was designed accordingly to the age groups, corresponding skills, and knowledge. While the rest of the activities which we have throughout the academic year occur in the mixed-age learning groups due to the benefits children experience from such an environment.
The Benefits of Mixed Age Learning Groups
When many of us think of preschool, we tend to visualize a classroom or playground where most of the kids are about the same age. This is how the classroom has been structured for most of the 20th century, whether it be daycare or elementary schools, etc. However, there is another type of schooling called mixed age, which is becoming more popular for preschools. Mixed age preschools may be a daunting idea for parents; however, this type of childcare can provide a wonderful, in-depth learning experience for children. In this type of setting, older children work with younger children to help them learn. It can also be a more inclusive setting for children who have disabilities. Overall, this type of preschool offers many benefits to the children, both younger and older, who attend on a regular basis.
Mixed Age Learning According to Psychology
In ancient times, it was more normal for kids to play with others who were of different ages. This was the case until modern times when same-age classrooms became the norm. These days mixed age daycares more resemble a family setting, where the children are usually of various ages. In a family, the older children tend to look after the younger ones. This is what makes mixed age preschool fit in so well with our children’s natural learning.
There’s a long history of discussion on the whether or not mixed age preschools are good for children. Back in the 1930s, Soviet scientist Lev Vygostsk was one of the early proponents of mixed age learning. He believed the best way for children to learn was older children interacting with younger children; the older children could help teach younger children. In fact, according to his theories, older children help the younger ones to learn more than they could learn on their own or in a group of their same-aged peers.
Over the decades since, researchers have debated both sides of the question—is mixed age preschool helpful for children or not?
According to Lilian G Katz , professor emerita of early childhood education at the University of Illinois, research has shown that mixed age childcare offers several benefits for children. She points out that preschool in effect becomes the children’s “family” in the time spent away from their parents and siblings. This is a more natural learning setting for children in early childhood, which offers many benefits for both younger and older children.
Benefits of Mixed Age Preschool
Mixed age daycare has several benefits for children, including the following:
1)Strengthens social and personal development: in a mixed age childcare, children have the opportunity to socialize and grow personally. Younger children may play in mixed groups with older children, who are more skilled. The older children learn how to help the younger children, while the younger children naturally learn more than they would only playing with others their own age. In this way, the children are able to develop social skills, which lead to a positive personality. Those who are older also learn to empathize with the younger children, learning to help them in ways that are positive. There’s also a tendency to learn to deal with children who are different, such as those who have a disability.
2)Children learn at their own rate: both younger and older children learn at their own rates. For instance, no child is labeled as a “slow developer” if they need a little more help learning specific concepts. On the other side, a child isn’t labeled as a “fast developer,” either. The mixed age preschool allows for each student to learn at their own pace. Those who are slower are encouraged to keep trying, while those who are faster learners still have a challenge to help those who are younger/slower to learn. They don’t become bored while everyone is still learning the concept they’ve mastered. This is all due to younger and older children learning together.
3)Learn to develop cooperation & caring: children have a tendency to cooperate rather than compete. Mixed age schools give children the opportunity to cooperate and help one another. This is because they don’t see each other as competitors.
4)Older children help teach the younger: in a mixed age daycare, the older children have the chance to help the younger learn such things as problem solving, and younger children are able to learn new concepts they couldn’t learn without the help of the older children.
5)Language usage: when older children help younger children, they’re able to explain the ideas they’ve learned in their own words. This strengthens their use and knowledge of language. Younger children, on the other hand, begin to learn new words earlier than they might than when grouped with children of their own age.
These are some main benefits of mixed age childcare. It must also be mentioned that the teachers are trained in how to interact with the children and how to creatively get the older children to help those who are younger. The children are constantly supervised and guided by their teacher as they work with one another.
As you can see, mixed age preschools have a lot to offer both younger and older students. The children learn how to work with and help one another. Not only do younger learn the social skills they need, the older children learn how to empathize and work with those who are younger.
As the older children move up to Kindergarten, those who were the youngest now become the oldest and the cycle continues. Children, both the older and the younger, benefit from this natural family-like environment.