The benefits of mixed-age play
Eskay kids services provide an environment in which children are able to play and learn alongside children of a variety of ages. This approach not only nurtures and promotes the sibling relationship, but also the richness that comes from desegregating age groupings. Some of that richness includes:
Children are more settled. Whether they are arriving with their sibling, or arriving to a cousin or family friend who already attends the service, it is comforting to them to be able to spend the day with someone familiar. Children in segregated services not only have to say goodbye to their parents, but also to their sibling as they head off to a different room for the day.
Children are able spend time with family while away from the home environment. There is no doubt that there is something special about the love that family members have for one another. Throughout the day at our service we see siblings and cousins turn to each other for the kind of comfort that only family can provide.
Younger children have mentors and role models in older children. These pictures are just one example of the many ways that younger children are exposed to the more complex ideas of older children. They have role models and numerous teachers beyond the staff of the centre demonstrating complex ideas, language and social skills throughout their day.
Older children experience what it is to be a mentor and teacher to younger children. Our kindergarten children are able to step up, to show leadership and to have their knowledge and experiences valued as expert knowledge when sharing with younger children. This gives them a sense of pride in the expertise that they have developed. Furthermore, research shows that we reinforce and consolidate our own knowledge when teaching it to others.
Mixed age grouping is inclusive of indigenous beliefs about teaching and learning. In Aboriginal culture and across a wide range of cultures children traditionally learnt in family groupings. Aboriginal people view family groupings as a more natural method of teaching and learning, believing that children will flourish if the learning environment could cater to the way that children learn naturally. Certainly the benefits we of mixed age learning that we see on a daily basis here at Eskay Kids are a testament to the wisdom of this indigenous knowledge.
Written by Summa Brooks
Eskay Kids – Springfield