Benefits of having children in a Multi Age program
First of all let’s define what I am referring to when I say multi-age program. This is a program where all ages of kids are together for a good part of the day. We play together, sleep in the same areas together, eat together, and in general spend a lot of our time in the same space.
When I look at a family, we are not all divided in our own age groups separated by walls . We are one group with varying ages, with different interests and different developmental levels. We learn from each other and help each other. We also have conflicts we need learn how to work out. This is all part of being a family.
A multi-age child care program is just like that! We are all together like a family. Since we are all together siblings can find comfort in having each other close, especially if this is their first experience in a child care program. Some programs segregate kids into infants and preschooler groups and other centres separate by actual ages with little contact throughout the day.
With different interests and different ages everyone gets involved in different activities and types of play. Sometimes the older ones and younger ones play together and sometimes the older ones want their own space and some ‘alone time’ to do ‘older kid’ things. We are able accommodate both of these types of play.
Kids work on developing a sense of empathy. The older kids help the younger ones with a challenging task like a puzzle, reaching a toy or giving a hug. Even the older toddlers are able to see a peer in need of help and don’t’ hesitate to give that helping hand by finding a lost toy or giving a comforting hug.
As much as the younger kids learn from the older kids by wanting to be just like an older buddy; older kids learn from the younger kids too. They learn cooperation, and working together as well as a chance to practice some problem solving techniques.
What kids learn from a multi-age program:
-working together -cooperation
-empathy -problem solving techniques
-social skills -emotional skills
All of these are skills they will all need as they get older and head off to school and in time become adults.