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Mixed-Age Group Learning – Making It Work

The conventional classroom has been dissected, rearranged, and debated for years. Parents, teachers, and children are constantly being subjected to “new and better” methods of classroom management. Mixed-age group learning is among the methods currently being implemented. But can teachers successfully balance a mixed-age group?

Montessori_classroom1

Some experts agree that the best way for children to learn is through collaboration with older, more skilled children who can set good examples for cognition and behavior.

Benefits of mixed-age group learning in the preschool environment include:

  • Working with older children enhances learning for younger children, enabling them to learn more than they would on their own
  • Older children are encouraged to practice leadership skills and positive behaviors, such as helping and sharing
  • Minimizes age-based comparisons and competition between children
  • Mixed-age groups generally keep the same teacher with the same group of students each year, which eliminates the stress of sudden classroom and teacher changes for younger children

On the other hand, concerns with mixed-age group learning exist, including:

  • Older children may not be adequately challenged
  • Older children may not participate in teacher-led activities as much due to the difficulty in appropriately planning for a broad age range
  • The younger children may benefit more than the older ones

The good news is that there are classroom management tips to effectively instruct mixed-age groups so that all students benefit. Consider the following guidelines:

  • Plan open-ended activities
    Plan activities that implement items such as LEGO bricks, sensory tubs, and unit blocks that children of all ages enjoy. A younger child can learn cause and effect at the water table while his older peer is focusing on volume and capacity.

February 19th, 2018

Posted In: Montessori Educators

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