Terre's Tots - Play. Learn. Grow.   child care with children of different ages  




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Why I like mixed-age childcare

Having mixed ages in childcare is the best thing since sliced bread.

The younger children get to learn by watching the "big kids". Infants and young children observe and learn 24/7. Being in the same play space with the pre-K crowd provides education about large muscle activity, fine motor skills, life skills, and most of all fantasy play.

Fantasy play is where kids set up the scenario, usually create some kind of obstacle or crisis, and then figure out how to fix the problem. The resolution of the problem involves brainstorming, listening to the opinions of others, receiving and interpreting that new data, deciding if that data is relevant to the problem, assessing the environment to see if they have the tools to fix the problem according the plan being considered.

This is followed by much re-negotiating their position with the other stakeholders so that the plan is agreed upon by all. Genially full agreement by all does not happen without a fair amount of compromise.

Of course even the best plans create more issues. So then the "big kids" collaborate again to figure out how to tweak the plan in response to the unexpected events that pop up during execution of the plan.

Sound familiar? Problem solving in the workplace? at home? in traffic? It's all good stuff!

The big kids have the opportunity all day long to watch the caregivers nurture and love the little ones. They learn how to be joyful about little kids....rather than seeing the toddlers as a pesky intrusion who "wrecked my tower". Because the big kids learned the joy of that toddler when we all greeted the toddler as the new infant in the group, the big kid already intrinsically knows that the toddler has value and deserves respect. Pre-school kids love babies. They love to watch the babies change. Many times the preschoolers have declared with great excitement, "Look! Baby Michael is walking!".

The pre-schoolers also get to the leaders...the top of the heap, the veterans. They've played and learned at their childcare since birth. They learned the processes, the schedules, the rules. Now they get to not only model for the little kids, but they also have lots of opportunities to practice what they've learned. Practicing makes for competency. Kids with a strong sense of self esteem and self worth start kindergarten with a huge advantage.

These learning opportunities do not happen when children are cared for in only in same age environments. The universe did not put us on this earth as a group of 12 15-month-olds in one space. Generally we are here at least 9 months apart. That is the order of things...that is how the big kids will live after they leave childcare. Let's show them how to do it....with joy and expectations that this will be fun.

daycare role playing with the kids


Terre's Tots - 13904 Fremont Avenue, Burnsville, MN 55337      Phone: 952-890-2078      Email:        2013 Terre's Tots, All Rights Reserved.