Mixed Age Classroom (MAC): Ages 2-4

Research shows there are a wide range of benefits to mixed age classrooms and most of the top research-based preschools now offer a mixed age class. Please see attached sheet with some information about the benefits of mixed age classrooms.

In our MAC room there will be a daily schedule with predictable routines for the children to become familiar and comfortable with. We will also offer music and movement, art opportunities, gardening, cooking, dramatic play, sensory exploration and outdoor playtime. We will also be partaking in a community service project where children in the MAC room will help make bagged lunches for the local homeless shelter. We aim to instill a sense of compassion and empathy in our students by offering them a way to give back to their community. Of course there will be free play opportunities, as well as teacher-initiated activities. A morning gathering will occur daily with a welcome song, singing and review of shapes, colors, counting and any special theme of the week. The indoor and outdoor environment is inspired by Reggio Emilia, R.I.E. and Waldorf child development philosophies.

Emergent Curriculum

Discovery Days will be using “Emergent Curriculum” which uses the interests of the children to direct the curriculum. Teachers will observe the children closely to dictate how they plan their lessons, which are all play based. DDELC bases its curriculum on both teacher knowledge and what is meaningful for each child. Curriculum emerges from a collaboration between teacher direction and children’s interests. Sometimes the children will be split into two groups for an activity based on ability levels.

Some of the goals of the curriculum are:

  • To encourage children to be actively involved in the learning process.
  • To prompt children to think creatively.
  • To aide children in asking questions and discovering answers.
  • To encourage children to become curious and enthusiastic learners.
  • To support children in experiencing success and developing self-confidence.
  • To promote, model and support appropriate social behavior.

What does the research say about mixed age classrooms?

Older children scaffold younger ones. Younger children look to older ones as models. A smart teacher knows how to set up relationships amongst the kids so that they’re ALL teaching and ALL learning from each other all the time. Research on outcomes for children in mixed-age groupings is extremely positive, particularly in terms of socio-emotional development. And research on what skills young children need to succeed in elementary school (and beyond) put socio-emotional skills (communication, self-regulation, attention, relationships) right at the top of that list. That’s what kids need to be learning in preschool and it’s what mixed-age classrooms are best at teaching.
- Jarrod Green, Child Development Expert

Research evidence suggests that children of different ages are usually aware of differences and attributes associated with age. Consequently, both younger and older children in mixed-age groups differentiate their expectations depending on the ages of the participants. Interaction in mixed-age groups elicits prosocial behaviors that are important in the social development of the young child.
- ERIC Digest