While there are many well-documented academic benefits to mixed-aged classrooms, perhaps what appeals to us most about it are the social benefits offered through this grouping. The opening of Discovery has been incredible and wonderful in so many ways. One thing that has been especially heart-warming is watching the special friendships forming and the kind interactions between “our” children, and the opportunities offered through mixed-age groups has been obvious.
Our classrooms are already beginning to feel like little families. On a daily basis we see the older students nurturing the younger ones, teaching them about the routines, and showing them what to do. We also see the younger children looking to the older ones for both guidance and at times comfort. When we’re outside, if there weren’t obvious height differences, you would be hard pressed to pick out children by age. They swim in and out of different play routines with different friends and there are no age boundaries for them in this imaginative and explorative play time. They take turns being leaders and followers, and the leader could be a 14 month old, or a 6 year old. It’s really something special to see!