“I can do it myself,” is often heard as little ones transition – striving for independence. Having a baby on site leads to lots of comparisons of “she can’t walk or talk yet, but I can…” Watching the babies become the big-kids is one of the rewards running a multi-age program. Daily I get to observe the type of transitions from one activity to the next AND daily I get to note the transitions of a child’s development from one stage to the next. Since I’ve also worked in classrooms where it was one age group or grade level I can easily compare the difference from multi-age programming.
In Los Angeles I had 2o something preschoolers which sounds like a challenge – but it was manageable, since having the same age/stage makes lesson planning easy and they all did the same activities at the same time. Depending on the day I might currently have 8 children ranging from an infant to 12 year olds in my home-based program. This leads to challenges of developing multiple lesson plans and balancing different developmental needs – but in some ways it is easier to manage then past programs I’ve taught. For one thing – there are less bodies to keep count of!
There is also something wonderful about the way a multi age program works where older children enjoy being helpers with their younger peers. Some lessons it doesn’t matter the age or stage as a younger child might have more experience with the lesson then an older student, and can share knowledge that might otherwise be discounted. Every student has something they are interested in or have talent in – which they can share with the classroom. Every student has something he or she might struggle with that their peers can encourage growth in.
Multi age programs in my experience has led to confidence building, as well as relationship building. In the real world we do not only interact with those of the same age group. We interact with people who are older, younger, of different religions, cultures and colors. Multi age classrooms encourage collaborating with everyone within a community. Multi age programs help students gain independence and discover their strengths. I believe in focusing on students strengths. I also believe in letting a child move through the developmental domains at their own speed.
Adventure Academy does not push a child onto the next stage, but encourages continual forward growth. The curriculum is open ended enough for each student to participate in their own way. One curriculum utilized is Mother Goose Time (click for link). Mother Goose Time is a theme based preschool package which can be simplified for younger children and expanded on for older students. For example – when the middle ages are learning about baby animals, their younger friends are being introduced to such concepts (mama duck says quack quack…). Older students learn about the different practices birds use for egg care (one chose to research daddy penguins caring for eggs).
The transition from one way of learning and sharing their knowledge depends on the child. Some young children decide they way to do the activity how they see their older friends doing it. Sometimes older students feel overwhelmed and start back at the basics slowly building up their academic responsibilities. As I observe competence in an area I’ll encourage a more challenging assignment. Sometimes a child might choose to do more challenging assignments for one subject, yet still work with younger peers in another area.
There are many benefits to multi age programing and smaller group ratios. Adventure Academy is a great option for preschoolers who enjoy working with “big kids” and those “young 5’s” who aren’t quite ready for the typical classroom setting. We also have homeschool students and toddlers and no matter the age/stage we enjoy learning – together. Making friends, making a mess and make-believing together is the way we learn and grow from babies to big-kids. If you know a child who’d like to join us in our learning adventures email Christi@MiFamilies.com.
Adventure Academy is one of Mi Families programs (click for link). Mi Families LLC (“my families”) is for families and those who work with families across Michigan. Adventure Academy is located in Kingsley, Michigan, but many of our programs are available across the state by team members, and other resources are available through social media. Learn more about our programs at www.MiFamilies.com. We are always updating our programs and enrolling for part time and full day child care and tutoring in our youth programs.
We are currently preparing for our summer youth program (click for link). Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays we will be focusing on summer school – tutor time services. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we will offer a summer camp with an education-through-recreation program. I can’t believe it’s time to plan out summer activities while it’s still winter, but 2017 will fly by! Babies will turn into big kids and another year will pass before we know it. Adventure Academy is here to help with developmental assessments, referrals and resources along the way…