When choosing a preschool, there are many factors to take into consideration. Whether or not a preschool is play-based, the credentials of the teachers, and if the school has mixed age classrooms are a few of the criteria parents look for when choosing a preschool. There are many benefits to a mixed age preschool and it is wise to take these into consideration when determining the right place for your child.
Mixed age preschools provide more flexibility for preschoolers and their particular stage of learning. Not all 3-year-olds are in the same place developmentally or academically, for example, and levels of readiness for different types of learning can actually vary widely. Mixed classrooms offer a more varied approach, as each child can be taught or grouped for play with other children at his or her level, regardless of age. Age grouping can be very arbitrary and not helpful for many children, who don’t necessarily gravitate toward children of their exact age. Having your child in a mixed-age group classroom gives them the opportunity to master needed skills and concepts before moving on to additional levels.
Many people consider mixed age preschool to be more of a family structure than preschools that are segregated by age. In addition, siblings can be together if that is what is best for them. In a family, it is common for children to have people slightly older or younger than themselves to learn from and teach. Mixed age classrooms replicate that feeling and setting more than other types of preschools. They also give children deeper relationship with their teachers and peers, with less transitions to deal with. Older children have the opportunity to be role models to others, and younger child get to see that their friends have mastered what they are working on, which can grant them confidence. Parents also have the opportunity to build a longer relationship with their child’s teacher. This partnership benefits children greatly.
Just as it is important for adults to not only spend time with people in our exact stage of life, children often learn and thrive better around children of different ages, such as in mixed age preschool. Research has shown the mixed age classrooms produce positive results for children, and that these positive results last longer than for children who attend age based early childhood education programs. Parents and teachers of children in these settings often find that the benefits are numerous.