Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Mixing the ages!


Tuesday 14 August 2018

With the introduction of the second free preschool year, we in Cheeky Cherubs began questioning how we could best integrate children of varying ages into the same space. We operated as a traditional preschool up to 2014, where children were cared for in separate rooms according to age, only having the opportunity to mix with siblings and children of different ages during overlapping outside times.

We reflected on how best to adapt practices we had seen on study trips across Europe which would be suitable to our context and environment. We created mixed age groups with over two year olds cared for together, supported by consistent key teachers, with opportunities to experience daily activities with each other, building meaningful and authentic relationships. We have seen many benefits since we introduced this.

Often these groups have two or three siblings who demonstrate empathy, compassion and create a sense of family for themselves and their peers. For children who don’t yet have siblings, they can see kind interactions being modelled and in turn act in similar ways with their friends. The siblings share their interests and explore their peer’s interests in innovative and fun ways. There is no longer a sense of preschoolers Vs toddlers. With mixed age groups, families no longer feel the need to fast track their children through childhood.

The children love having friends older and younger, as their experiences are extended and challenged through observing and sharing with each other. Children have varying abilities within our mixed age groups; some children present with speech and language issues, others first language is not English, or with sensory processing challenges, ASD or Downs Syndrome. It has been our experience that these children have transitioned into mixed groups well. With varying ages, abilities and expertise within each group, the children are very accepting of each other and understand that everyone is different and unique. We have observed that being in a mixed age group gives children opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with a variety of children, who all have their own interests, abilities and challenges regardless of any diagnosis’. Somewhere within the group there will be others who share a special interest or level of expertise because of their varying ages. A four-year-old non-English speaking child may find it difficult to integrate when joining a group of other four-year olds who all speak English fluently, feeling isolated as the group communicates comfortably. In a mixed age group, the norm is that everyone is developing their communication skills, therefor no one feels inferior in their ability to communicate.

While there was a lot of apprehension making this change initially, the feedback from our early years teachers and the children’s parents has been very positive. Our image of the child as capable and competent has been enhanced through this transition. There have been many days where our conviction has been challenged, but when you see two sisters support each other in risk assessing, or a boy congratulate his little brother on his drawing, your faith is restored. Parents have also shared that they have noticed positive developments in their children’s relationships and a reduction in conflicts on transitioning home. Our experience of mixed age groups has been a very positive one to date.

You might be interested in reading this previous blog post: Developing curriculum for children in mixed age groups


What are your views on mixed age provision? Let us know in the comments below. 

Sarah O’Leary and Michelle Akerlind are the Directors of Cheeky Cherubs Early Years Schools. They have 3 locations in Cork. One in Bishopstown, one in Ballincollig and one in City Hall, a workplace creche for City Council staff. We have created three beautiful yet individual centres where the uniqueness of each child is celebrated and supported through providing opportunities to play, explore, share and learn with their peers, while being cared for and educated by wonderful, qualified and experienced teachers.

2 comments Comments

2 Responses

  1. Margaret Bermingham says:

    I believe mixed aged groups are more natural and reflective of family life. Unfortunately in Ireland we don’t consider grouping children in mixed ages because the sector is driven by regulation and budgetary limitations (ie it more financially viable to group 3-5 year olds by 1:8 or 1:11) instead of being driven by what is best for children. Well done for trying this out and documenting your observations. It would be great if policy makers would take this into account. In my own playschool I mixed the younger and older ECCE children and I believe it had many benefits for both age groups and the adults.

  2. I believe policy and legislation needs to be reviewed around this area .I believe mixed age groups would be more beneficial to children in the preschool. It is part of trivialities in every day life from school ,family life and into adult hood working life .

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

educarer(1) UK(1) Story(2) Trade Unions(1) AIM(2) SAC(1) refugees(1) The Jelly King(1) Italy(1) Queues(1) Malaguzzi(1) Interactions(3) outdoor space(3) Research Conference 2019(1) Book Club(2) guardian(1) social media policy(1) phone apps(1) Kerry(1) ECCE(7) Inspired Practice Awards(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) Maths Week(1) Interaction(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Early Years(1) Children's Voice(1) bloom app(1) Self-Esteem(1) under 3's(3) democracy(1) Identity(5) Tuscan Approach(2) Special Needs Assistants(1) democratic citizens(1) Prexit(1) INTO(1) outdoor environment(1) Primary School(3) Games(2) Sustainability(3) Online Research Symposium(3) Iceland(2) Confidence(1) Laughter(1) Document Learning(1) built environments(1) Christmas Creativity(2) curriculum(6) child safeguarding(1) Weather(1) dining(1) Return to Work(1) Biting(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) International Narratives(1) Adoption(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Awards(2) Maths(6) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Love(3) toddlers(3) Children's Book Club(1) Feeding(1) emotional well-being(1) dining experiences(1) play pod(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) risk assessment(1) Leadership(1) Jenga(1) Art(6) Graduate(1) Wonder(1) Sessional service(1) GDPR(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) environments(1) World book day(1) Proceedings Journal(1) Mealtimes(1) bonds(1) movement behaviours(1) Looking Back(1) Blocks(1) Penguins(1) DES Inspection(1) PIP(1) Communicating(1) Childhood(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) Gardening(1) preschools(1) Treasure(1) worries(1) relationships(18) Sculptures(1) Photographs(1) Snacks(1) QRF(1) Inter-generational learning(2) education(2) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) childcare services(1) Routines(2) collaboration(1) Kindness Challenge(1) child led(1) Arlene Forster(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Book Review(1) Policy(2) Family(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) learning bias(1) Early Years Education(1) Advocacy(1) Music(3) Certificate(1) Smiles(1) Time Out(1) National Awards 2018(2) Budget 2020(1) play stories(2) Performance Management(1) Qualifications(1) playleader(1) Inspections(1) overhear(1) Santa(2) Educators(2) Children and families(2) Norway(2) Department of Education and Skills(1) Workplace Relations(3) Vietnam(1) Cork(1) risk(2) DCYA(6) Motor neuron disease(1) Children(8) Maynooth University(2) partnership with families(1) National Holiday(1) Support(1) ECIAwards20(1) documentation(4) Builders(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Mental Health(4) Covid response(2) HR(1) linc(1) Communications(1) responsive relationships(1) Buddy Bench(1) Loving Relationships(2) Whole Group(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) EECERA 2016(1) Pedagogy(2) parents(7) Engineering(3) Capable(1) Ariana Pucci(1) show and tell(1) UK Government(1) awards 2020(1) apps for children(1) Teamwork(1) Online(1) New Appointments(1) Reading Time(2) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Gratitude(1) Fabric(1) Study Trip(1) Xbox(1) child-centred approach(1) emotional environment(2) Recycling(2) Infection Control(1) ears(1) Technology(3) Death(2) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Arts(1) Magic(1) Plants(1) Fantasy play(1) play pods(2) CCTV(1) Thinking(1) developing motor skills(1) stories(3) Sustainable(1) Oireachtas(1) Horizon 2020(1) Regulation 23(1) Kilkenny(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) structure(1) Your place(1) Our Little Seed(1) IGL(1) Aistear(131) Meal time(1) dogs(1) Nutrition(1) COVID-19(18) Awards 2018(3) STEM(3) curiosity(3) continual professional development(1) Appreciation(1) Sport(1) Anthony Semann(1) food(1) Seas Suas(1) Settling in(4) Culture(2) School Age Childcare(2) Siolta blog(8) primary education(1) Administrative Burden(1) Training(3) Mantra(1) Laugh(1) Positivity(1) creche(1) Traffic Lights(1) Trigonometry(1) COVID(3) Inclusion(3) risky play(2) Research Seminar(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Participation(2) Exploratory Play(1) Imagination(3) imotion(1) communication(4) Celebrate(1) peer group(1) early childhood(1) Decisions(1) partnership(1) iOS(1) ECEC(3) Autism(4) budget(1) Staff Motivation(1) presentation skills(1) UN(1) Shapes(2) Covid-19 lockdown(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) pablo(1) Environment(2) Croatia(1) man up(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Potential(1) Light table(1) ICBN(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) outdoors(4) Craft(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) experience(1) College(1) Learning through Storytelling(2) preschool(4) books(5) Map(1) Orla Kenny(1) Well-Being(10) science(3) Effect of Lockdown(1) friendships(1) Self Help Skills(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Lego(2) Playdough(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Plastic(1) Seanchaí(1) Family wall(1) learning hub(2) annual conference(1) meals(3) Cognitive development(1) EECERA(1) Exercise(1) play(37) early years settings(1) preschool settings(1) Confident(1) Scéalta Blog(106) research(8) dublin(2) quarantine(2) Magnavacchi(1) babies(7) Masterclass(2) Learning Journal(2) Learning Stories(9) memories(1) Looking Forward(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Fee Play(1) Montessori(3) Mo Scéal(1) Youtube Series(1) Budget 2018(1) Supernanny(1) Reflective Practice(1) Pre-School Services(1) Painting(1) Interests(1) conference(1) TRAP(1) MECPI(1) eating(1) Children's Rights(3) Rituals(1) Titles(1) Scents(1) art of the relationship(1) Relaxation(1) gender bias(1) MA(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Japan(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Budget 2019(2) SPICE Framework(1) University(1) Mark Twain(1) CIT(1) STEAM(1) Early Years Educators(3) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Shoes(1) life long learning(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) staying connected(1) Pobal sector profile(1) mushrooms(1) Elders(1) RIE philosphy(1) Health(2) Spiders(1) lockdown(1) keezy(1) Easter(1) Socioemotional development(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Children's Research Network(2) United Nations(1) ReCreate(2) value(1) Brain(1) Names(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Awards 2019(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Recycle(1) AsIAm(2) Investment(2) early childhood educator(2) story time(2) Giraffe(2) Professionalisation(5) Glitter(2) Exploring and Thinking(1) routine(2) Margy Whalley(1) coronavirus(1) june29(1) Design(1) Fire Safety(1) ERASMUS+(3) Albert Einstein(1) conversations(1) Graduation(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) science week(2) Iraq(1) Early Learning and Care(2) Síolta QAP(1) Bereavement(2) scientific and artistic processes(1) Treasure Chest(1) purpose(1) Small World Play(1) Engineering Ireland(1) respect(5) Role play(1) emotions(2) outdoor play(7) journey(1) RTE Investigates(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Inspiring Practice(1) racism(1) Trick or treat(1) Frustrations(1) Playschool(1) Irish guidelines(1) Intention(1) role playing(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) blog(56) Storytelling(8) Leargas(1) Growing up Outdoors(2) Mayo(1) Nordic model(1) Visitors(1) Skillnet(1) Visual Impairment(1) Time(1) Mindfulness(3) Ceremony(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Independence(1) Twitter(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) TOY Programme(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Kids Own(1) Thanks(1) Rich Documentation(1) UNICEF report(1) Engineers Week(2) Little Buddies(1) Community involvement(1) Return to Work Training(1) educating(1) quarantine kids(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) Large Doll Play(1) Affordability(1) Meet the Members(1) Digital Devices(1) family time(1) Funding(1) Women(1) Degree(1) Wesco(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) inspiring interactions(1) San Miniato(4) Thank you(1) Traditions(2) Winter(1) Mixed age groups(3) Academics(1) Window(1) Celebrations(4) Deirdre Rogers(1) Consent(1) Empathy(1) aistear blog(3) ECEC Setting(2) social science(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) behavioural science(1) Line-ups(1) Exploring(1) Pen green(1) Breathing(2) keep in touch(1) CPD(1) Home Corner(1) learning(19) Impact(1) trust(4) interacting(2) Awards Night(1) listen(1) community(5) Pedagogical leaders(1) Workforce(1) Running(1) Childcare(3) timekeeping skills(1) Nonverbal(1) feisty(1) planning(1) First 5(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Valentine's Day(3) Creative(1) Snakes(1) Super Shed Stories(2) healthy eating policies(1) European Project(1) Mud kitchens(1) Eritrea(1) animals(2) Annual Conference 2017(2) Obesity(1) Infectious diseases(1) Event Guide(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) maternity health(1) Building Resilience(1) Upcycling(1) Digital(1) upskilling(1) early childhood ireland research(1) christmas(9) Learning journals(1) Anxiety(2) code of ethics(1) Opportunities(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Decision Making(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Touch(1) Yoga(1) Mount Everest(1) Reggio(1) Snack Time(1) Maternity Leave(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) multi-generational community(1) children’s learning(1) Exit interview(1) worldbookday(1) Child mental health(1) Change(1) social media(2) Irish(1) scéalta(58) Together Old and Young Programme(1) ELC(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Creativity(7) National Awards 2019(1) Reggio Emilia(2) listening(1) Pretend Play(1) Grief(1) education system(1) mental health problems(1) reopening ireland(1) Patterns(1) grandchild(1) Sequins(1) Exclusion(1) Kindness(1) Wrapping paper(1) Workplace well-being(1) gender stereotype(1) Universal Design(2) UNCRC(2) Sleep(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Sweets(1) Buddies(1) NCCA(3) Dance(1) Vertical grouping(1) early life(1) Competent(1) First 5 strategy(1) learners(1) early years research(3) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Limerick(1) research submissions(1) Social Skills(1) an post(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Care-giving routines(1) child-centric(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Inter-generational(2) Learning Stories Award(3) Drawing(2) code of professional responsibility(1) Learning Story(1) Party(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Diversity(1) TUSLA(1) homeschool(1) Self-regulation(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Identity and Belonging(4) Through the looking glass(1) National Pyjama Day(1) youdoodle(1) development(9) Leprechauns(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Body Language(1) Unesco(1) annual awards(1) Covid pandemic(3) online training(1) Behaviour(3) Favouritism(1) early years learning(1) Academic Skills(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Síolta(139) The Lullaby Book(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) transitions(10) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Engagement(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Mathematicians(1) Pobal(1) Care routines(1) UD(1) Challenges(1) Maynooth(1) NAEYC(1) Loss(1) Summer(2) Maria Montessori(1) Wilenski(1) Afghanistan(1) natural environment(1) early year’s classrooms(1) E.coli(1) Belonging(3) Arithmetic(1) Trade union(1) Equality(1) Counting(1) supportive environments(2) women in research(1) EM Standing(1) Halloween(2) reopening(1) reading(6) Employee(1) Flowers(1) Stress(2) Child Care(1) children development(1) Facebook(1) baby room(1) Human Resources(1) Early Childhood Education(1) pets(1) Inspirational(2) play therapy(1) Performing(1) Europe(1) Syria(1) Wendy Lee(4) Reggio Children Network(1) World Health Organisation(1) Quality(4) Magda Gerber(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine