Challenges of the School Working with Mixed Age Groups Essay Sample
This essay sample shall focus on the challenges faced by the school and children of different age groups who are placed together in a classroom setting. It shall also cover the mixed age group classes of the Montessori and early years education setting in Ireland.
Such a mixed-age class is also known as a ‘composite class’ which is not so much preferred by the parents for their children.
They fear that their young children may lack behind in learning new skills and concepts in such a mixed class. While parents of older children fear that the advanced need of their children if not met on time may create confidence issues in them.
A mixed classroom has its share of advantages and challenges for the children in such a classroom setting.
The mixed classroom is beneficial for the students with similar learning needs, maturity, behavior, attitude, friendships, and bonds irrespective of their age group.
If they are struggling in one class then such students can be sent to another class with a mixed age group which may be temporary.
It helps children with similar personalities of different age groups to learn and develop collectively. Mixing different age groups is also a big challenge for the teachers especially when they have to teach them under one roof.
Challenges and ways to deal with them by the teachers in a mixed-age classroom
Some of the most common challenges that are faced by the children and teachers and ways to deal with them in a mixed-age classroom setting are:-
The older age group feels demotivated and held back by young children
Children of older age group when being grouped with the young children negatively reflect upon their abilities and potential. The older children start feeling insecure and assume themselves to be less capable learners than the children of their age.
It generates feelings of self-doubt and a lack of confidence in them. They also do not like to cooperate with the rest of the children in their class which affects their social abilities to hold conversations with others.
They start seeing themselves as a failure with less ability which can affect their mental health and behavior.
To improve upon this condition teachers must ask the older learners to teach the young children and help them in learning. Their needs and desires must be catered to while opinions must be heard on time.
It shall boost the confidence level and self-esteem of the older age group as they will feel that their abilities and knowledge are being recognized helping them to grow into mature individuals in the future.
Lack of confidence in young children in comparison to the older age group
The young age learners when sharing their learning space with the old age group they feel scared and intimidated.
When the gap is huge among different children it also creates a hindrance in their level of understanding and maturity which can hurt the learner’s mind.
Young children fear that their old peers may outperform them in academics and dominate them in other fields as well. While they also lack sheer confidence and courage to converse with the old age group which demotivates them further.
Teachers can help young children by making them aware of their capabilities and help them to learn from their older peers and environment.
They must teach the whole class together instead of targeting them age-wise. It shall help them to break down the barriers between the different age groups. It also encourages young children to communicate and coordinate with other children in the class.
Preparing one group for the examination
In a mixed-age classroom when a group of children belonging to a certain age group has to sit for an important competition or any other examination in the future they need to start preparing for it prior.
The rest of the children may find themselves confused, clueless, and will not be able to relate to this situation of examination preparation.
Teachers can include the whole class in the process of exam preparation as this would help the younger children to learn new concepts and remain already prepared when it will be their turn to sit for the exam. This will develop their cognitive minds and promote their development.
Mixed-age groups classes in Irish schools
There are three different levels of Irish education in schools. It includes children from the early years of higher education. Mixed-age classes help majorly the young group of children in their school. It ensures their growth and development by enhancing their personalities.
Mixing classes in Montessori
In Ireland, Montessori schools allow children to grow and learn independently and naturally. The classroom environment is developed to meet the individual needs of the children by mixing the boys and girls along with two children with special needs. It is a classic example of mixing age groups.
They have the best and most extensive syllabus with a wide range of subjects in the school. Learning materials help the children in the self-learning process and help in improving their own mistakes which builds their self-confidence and self-esteem.
Books in the form of learning material are all provided on the open shelves for easy accessibility by children of different ages and heights. It is classified into five areas of subjects, Practical life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Cultural, and Language.
Children must be introduced to the subjects or materials according to their level of learning and stage of development so that they can draw maximum benefits. When a system of open learning is being provided to them it enhances their interest and level of ability.
The common sharing of learning space and independent choice of exploration by the children, helps them to create strong bonds and relationships amongst themselves.
Montessori children are placed into three different age group categories –
- Primary class – 3 to 6 years ago.
- Elementary one – 6 to 9 years ago.
- Elementary two – 9 to 12 years ago.
The learning materials are all relevant to the curriculum of different age groups. They’re arranged in such a way that it corresponds to the learning needs of the different age groups.
Mixed-age class in the early years or pre-school setting
In preschool or early years setting children of varied ages to play and learn together. Younger children playing with older children helps them to develop skills, enhancing their vocabulary, and language skills, and improving their problem-solving abilities.
It promotes them to make role models, develop play stories, and do role play while they are playing with their older peers.
The older children also benefit from this mixed age group setting as they become more responsible and enhance their leadership and management skills. They also learn caring, empathy, and compassion.
The syllabus or curriculum is also developed according to the interests, experiences, and needs of the children. Children are all born with their unique abilities, needs, interests, and talent which needs to be harnessed further in the proper direction by teachers.
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The above essay sample focuses on the challenges faced by the children and teachers in the school due to mixed age group classes.
Childcare QQI Level 5, Early Childhood Care and Education QQI Level 5, Supervision in Early Childhood Care QQI Level 6 students can read this sample to understand the concept of mixed-age classes and childcare.
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