It’s no surprise that life isn’t always separated by age. In today’s world where communities consist of people with different backgrounds as well as with people of mixed age groups, life becomes joyful and vibrant with new experiences.
Likewise, when it comes to early childhood learning and education, children don’t have to be grouped only by their age. We must understand that same-aged classrooms don’t always promote a child’s social or academic development. However, bringing children of different ages together through mixed-age preschool grouping aims to do just that.
Mixed-grade rooms in childcare centers and kindergartens allow children to be part of a group of diverse ages and nurture their social and intellectual growth.
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What Is Mixed-Age Preschool Grouping?
Mixed-age grouping is a model for preschoolers that allows children to be grouped according to different age ranges. The goal is to build confidence in younger children as well as enhance their language and behavioral skills alongside maximizing intellectual potential. Meanwhile, older children benefit from multi-age grouping because it allows them to ‘mentor’ younger children, which builds on their sense of responsibility, and empathy skills.
Younger children working in mixed-age groups are also capable of contributing to complex activities and mix well with other children as they get to understand each other better.
The Benefits of Mixed-Age Groups in Preschool
Renowned psychologists, pedagogists, and educators have highlighted the importance of group learning benefits in mixed-age classrooms. The Montessori method of teaching, for instance, stresses that multi-age groupings can greatly benefit children. Here are some of the ways that multi-age grouping can benefit children.
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Nurtures Early Childhood Learning and Leadership
A study conducted by psychologist Peter Gray, concluded that mixed-age play through grouping has the potential to bring early childhood learning and developmental benefits.
He affirmed that by allowing younger children to learn more from older playmates, little ones could gain more emotional support and social learning from older children than from those near their own age.
The older children, on the other hand, also get to practice nurturance and develop vital leadership skills by caring after their younger playmates. Instilling leadership qualities early on makes them more independent and proactive to opportunities.
Having thus understood the importance of good manners and social responsibility from teachers, older children can demonstrate the same to younger children. Also, little ones can look up to their seniors as role models and put to use what they’ve learned as they grow.
Establishes a Sense of Uniqueness
In a mixed-age environment, children get to discover unique qualities through fun learning activities.
Compared to same-age learning environments where each child has to keep the same pace as other children, mixed-age groups allow children to find their own voice.
At early care centers with a mixed-age learning environment, teachers encourage children to focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t do. It motivates children as well as helps nourish their own strengths and abilities in a better way.
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Makes Children Cooperative than Competitive
Since every learner is of the same age in a traditional classroom setting, the inclination to compete and come first becomes the sole objective for children. Instead of embracing the journey together, they forget to have fun while they learn.
In mixed-age groups children likely become more cooperative. During learning sessions and fun activities, they learn to care for themselves as well as their peers while they learn together.
The mixed-age learning model thus opens up new doors of perspective and helps children see each other as individuals than contenders.
Grows Confidence in Children
Children become more insecure when they find themselves in situations where they know and don’t know something. Not having someone to relate to them makes them hesitant, lowers their confidence, and performance.
Children in mixed-age groups feel a greater sense of security since they are always surrounded by someone higher or lower than them in experience.
Having someone to motivate them gives children the confidence they need to move forward.
At Aurora Early Education, our teachers pay special care to help children grow by fostering confidence through various classroom activities.
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Introduces New Ways to Develop and Grow
Children found in same-age learning environments tend to possess qualities on a similar scale, leaving little room for creative problem-solving.
In a mixed-age room environment, each child is presented with ample opportunities to strengthen their weaknesses and develop solutions as they observe, interact, and grow.
For instance, older children can teach their juniors the value of patience and empathy while younger children can ask seniors for assistance if they get stuck in between. By mixing together, children can also cultivate their bilingual skills and learn new languages along with their peers from different backgrounds.
Such a dynamic setting inculcates valuable life skills along with academic knowledge.
Mixed-age interaction brings tremendous developmental benefits. It allows creative ways to help children nurture their skillset and maximize their potential while they have some fun.
However, enrolling your child in a facility with mixed-age grouping won’t bring out the benefits. Considering the right age and ratio of young and old children is always something you must think prior to making the enrollment.
And most importantly, the right child care center that has it all.
Aurora Early Education is one such early education center that exposes kindergartners and preschoolers to the perfect mixed-age learning environments so they get to blend together, learn and have fun as they grow.