Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Reopening – Silver Linings – Mixed Age Pods

By: SARAH TWOHIG

Monday 21 September 2020

Since I began my studies in the Early Years, I have often wondered how mixed age groups worked in practice. The Montessori method stresses that multi-age groups can be of benefit to all children. Our curriculum has always been tailored to the individual child anyway and so we became quite excited by the possibilities presented by having mixed age pods when we reopened.

Mixed-age pods:

We provide learning opportunities for children around each child’s interests and abilities. This often means adapting the environment to develop these further. Often the child we design around will engage, sometimes not but there is nearly always a ripple effect. Once one child shows an interest, others will follow while others are pulled towards a different space or opportunity. Some create their own areas of interest.

It has been humbling to see quite young children engaging in opportunities which we may not have offered because of their complexity without the mixed-age grouping. One of our 11-month-old children has recently mastered the art of threading for example. Some of the younger children seem to be using language more with their older playmates than with their peers or adults in the setting.

It is wonderful to see children take on a leadership role with a younger child, an opportunity they might not yet have had the confidence to go with within their own peer group. Older children have become teachers. They refine their skills as they analyse them to break them down to show a younger child.

The trust a younger child shows a slightly older child is quite beautiful. We recently had a child who was upset. The educator was trying her best to comfort him, but the crying continued. A 4-year-old approached the younger child. Crouching down to the younger child the 4-year-old said, “Will I show you the water?” A piece of magic happened at that moment. The younger child stopped crying, stood out of the educator’s lap and walked hand in hand with the 4-year-old to the water table.

The mixed-age groups have facilitated siblings being together. How wonderful it is to watch the confidence of a child who knows his brother/ sister is close by. Some of our siblings are newcomers to the creche. The difference in challenges of settling a child with or without a sibling while they acclimatise to their new environment has been amazing. Obviously not everyone has a brother or sister but those that have should in my opinion definitely be cared for within the same environment.

New children settling in:

New children coming into the service has always been a challenge. It wasn’t one we had to face immediately on reopening. For us, July and August were about getting used to the post COVID-19 system. Set arrival and collection times and communicating with parents in different ways were our biggest challenges then.

However, in September this changed. We had new children coming in this month and understandably all the adults were anxious about how we would approach this. We recognise the risk of infection through COVID-19 as well as the need to protect each child’s well-being. First, we looked at our COVID-19 policy and added a provision for new children settling. It reads:

“Settling Period: When a new child joins the creche every effort will be made to minimise transmission risks while taking the child’s emotional well-being into account. It is expected that these will be individual to each child’s needs and will be documented on the child’s record.”

In practice, we offer each child settling in the week before they are due to start – just like pre COVID-19. The child attends for 2 hours each day with the aim of building positive associations with our environment, educators and children. One parent is invited into the setting because we feel this is of utmost importance to the child’s well-being. Of course, we want to minimise the transmission risk. Here are some steps we have taken with families to date:

  • We documented parent’s attendance including date, time in and time out.
  • We asked the parent to wear a face covering.
  • We asked the parent to wash/ sanitise their hands on entry.
  • Where possible the parent sits in the outdoor environment. Where this is not possible an indoor area was made for the parent. We marked a large box on the floor with tape. The box is always in a well-ventilated position. This is the parent’s area where they hold/ comfort/ play with their child. When the child is ready, they move back and forth from the security of their parent supported by our educators.
  • The parent as far as practical maintains a 2-metre distance from staff and other children.
  • When the parent is comfortable that their child is ready, they leave. (In general, a much quicker process for children who had older siblings already attending.)

Post COVID-19 has certainly been and carries on being a learning experience. However, we continue to dream big, work hard, stay focused and give thanks for all the good people who surround us.

 

To finish up I’ll leave you with a Facebook quote which tells of an old debate in Early Years Education:

“Which is more important,” asked Big Panda, “the journey or the destination?”

“The company,” said Tiny Dragon.

 

Bio:

Sarah Twohig is Manager at Crawford Childcare in Glanmire, Co. Cork. Sarah began her career in Early Years Education after her own children started school. Returning to education after a break, she studied Early Years at FETAC level 5 and continued to complete a HETAC Level 8 in Early Childhood Studies and LINC. Sarah joined Crawford Childcare in 2010. Her areas of interest in the early years include the benefits of outdoor play, supporting children’s social competence and inclusion.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Competent(1) Looking Forward(1) Early Years Educators(3) SPICE Framework(1) Interaction(1) early childhood educator(2) Spiders(1) UN(1) role playing(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) San Miniato(4) Aistear(130) science week(2) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Magnavacchi(1) Mount Everest(1) Kids Own(1) Awards 2019(1) play therapy(1) International Narratives(1) Decision Making(1) Awards 2018(3) keep in touch(1) Trade union(1) Professionalisation(5) Traditions(2) Early Childhood Education(1) art of the relationship(1) early years learning(1) Meal time(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Looking Back(1) staying connected(1) structure(1) Certificate(1) Care-giving routines(1) New Appointments(1) Recycle(1) refugees(1) value(1) European Project(1) Celebrate(1) United Nations(1) phone apps(1) Change(1) Snakes(1) RIE philosphy(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) MECPI(1) Reflective Practice(1) christmas(9) Autism(4) outdoor play(6) Liz Kerrins(1) Potential(1) gender bias(1) Fee Play(1) Appreciation(1) AIM(2) Exit interview(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Maths(6) Sleep(1) listen(1) Pedagogy(2) relationships(18) Bereavement(2) Wendy Lee(3) COVID-19 Reopening(2) supportive environments(2) World Health Organisation(1) Inspections(1) listening(1) dogs(1) Loving Relationships(2) children development(1) man up(1) Child mental health(1) Self-regulation(1) EECERA(1) Malaguzzi(1) eating(1) Whole Group(1) learning bias(1) Communicating(1) Nutrition(1) EECERA 2016(1) Glitter(2) Staff Motivation(1) Online Research Symposium(1) Imagination(3) STEM(3) awards 2020(1) Mud kitchens(1) Penguins(1) life long learning(1) Sustainability(3) collaboration(1) Arlene Forster(1) Love(3) learning(19) E.coli(1) Digital Devices(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Mantra(1) Maynooth University(2) dining(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Síolta QAP(1) Inclusion(3) playleader(1) meals(3) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) responsive relationships(1) Educators(2) Online(1) behavioural science(1) Event Guide(1) Kilkenny(1) Engineering(3) Proceedings Journal(1) Orla Kenny(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Sculptures(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Mo Scéal(1) annual conference(1) development(8) Covid pandemic(2) Building Resilience(1) Children's Research Network(1) Interactions(3) Arithmetic(1) Youtube Series(1) Traffic Lights(1) Family wall(1) conference(1) Universal Design(2) ECIAwards20(1) play(35) Little Buddies(1) ECEC Setting(2) Social Skills(1) preschool settings(1) Human Resources(1) Valentine's Day(3) dublin(2) Your place(1) NCCA(3) Facebook(1) Touch(1) Study Trip(1) Storytelling(7) Rising to the Challenge(2) journey(1) purpose(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) bonds(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Child Care(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) childcare services(1) Time Out(1) Trade Unions(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Exercise(1) Return to Work Training(1) environments(1) educarer(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) child-centric(1) Digital(1) education system(1) Treasure Chest(1) learning hub(1) Prexit(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Window(1) Meet the Members(1) parents(6) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Síolta(136) Research and Professional Learning(1) emotions(2) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) blog(52) Titles(1) Siolta blog(8) Educator of the Year Award(3) Early Childhood Ireland(10) Confidence(1) lockdown(1) june29(1) feisty(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Workforce(1) UNICEF report(1) Kindness Challenge(1) Workplace well-being(1) Engineering Ireland(1) memories(1) Community involvement(1) babies(7) Limerick(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) gender stereotype(1) ECCE(7) Book Club(2) social media policy(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Cognitive development(1) TOY Programme(1) Norway(2) Photographs(1) Montessori(3) Ariana Pucci(1) Decisions(1) Through the looking glass(1) Mindfulness(3) Environment(2) Motor neuron disease(1) Hand Hygiene(2) mental health problems(1) creche(1) Children and families(1) Cork(1) Oireachtas(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Summer(1) Easter(1) outdoor space(3) Routines(2) Giraffe(2) National Awards 2018(2) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Engineers Week(2) CIT(1) GDPR(1) Wesco(1) Academics(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Identity and Belonging(4) community(5) Magic(1) The Jelly King(1) Yoga(1) Japan(1) Seas Suas(1) MA(1) Snacks(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Funding(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) emotional environment(2) annual awards(1) Santa(2) Home Corner(1) Italy(1) Gardening(1) friendships(1) NAEYC(1) Plants(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Mealtimes(1) children’s learning(1) Obesity(1) IGL(1) Supernanny(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) books(4) Performing(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Drawing(2) Self Help Skills(1) Primary School(3) Socioemotional development(1) School Age Childcare(1) Leargas(1) Pretend Play(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) experience(1) Challenges(1) Thinking(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Visitors(1) Thank you(1) bloom app(1) Small World Play(1) aistear blog(3) Role play(1) Graduate(1) Impact(1) Covid response(2) Patterns(1) ReCreate(2) Teamwork(1) Exploratory Play(1) Playschool(1) Horizon 2020(1) Sport(1) Scéalta Blog(104) outdoor environment(1) Infection Control(1) Biting(1) Syria(1) early life(1) PIP(1) Queues(1) documentation(4) Scents(1) Exclusion(1) Early Years Education(1) College(1) DCYA(6) Empathy(1) Intention(1) Dance(1) Halloween(2) Scéalta Book Review(1) keezy(1) Learning through Storytelling(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Family(1) Childcare(3) Identity(5) Learning journals(1) family time(1) Reggio(1) Flowers(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) InspireMe.ie(1) Positivity(1) Shoes(1) Names(1) social media(2) Frustrations(1) Lego(2) inspiring interactions(1) Pre-School Services(1) Reggio Emilia(2) Body Language(1) play stories(2) continual professional development(1) Feeding(1) Thanks(1) Party(1) Maths Week(1) Afghanistan(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) social science(1) ECEC(3) dining experiences(1) Inter-generational(2) Magda Gerber(1) Vertical grouping(1) Blocks(1) Belonging(3) Craft(1) Engagement(1) mushrooms(1) Pen green(1) educating(1) Recycling(2) CPD(1) toddlers(3) Employee(1) Communications(1) democracy(1) Tuscan Approach(2) conversations(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) overhear(1) Learning Story(1) Counting(1) Line-ups(1) under 3's(3) Relaxation(1) Workplace Relations(3) Vietnam(1) Laugh(1) Children(4) EM Standing(1) communication(4) Support(1) Confident(1) science(3) Rich Documentation(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) linc(1) Creativity(6) animals(2) Pobal(1) Trigonometry(1) iOS(1) learners(1) Playdough(1) Qualifications(1) movement behaviours(1) preschool(4) Reopening Childcare(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Eritrea(1) Inspiring Practice(1) transitions(10) worries(1) Sustainable(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) early childhood(1) Large Doll Play(1) multi-generational community(1) Sessional service(1) Care routines(1) Children's Rights(3) Budget 2018(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) Light table(1) outdoors(4) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Smiles(1) Equality(1) democratic citizens(1) racism(1) Trick or treat(1) healthy eating policies(1) online training(1) Diversity(1) Participation(2) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Leprechauns(1) reading(5) Performance Management(1) maternity health(1) Wonder(1) Training(2) interacting(2) Document Learning(1) Running(1) trust(4) Art(6) grandchild(1) Jenga(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Learning Stories Award(3) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Irish guidelines(1) Mark Twain(1) Arts(1) child-centred approach(1) Adoption(1) Consent(1) DES Inspection(1) INTO(1) Wilenski(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) show and tell(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Administrative Burden(1) Map(1) Behaviour(3) Inspirational(2) Maynooth(1) reopening ireland(1) Exploring(1) Iraq(1) Buddies(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Health(2) peer group(1) Wrapping paper(1) early years settings(1) Mixed age groups(3) Laughter(1) Seanchaí(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) education(2) SAC(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Games(1) Rituals(1) UD(1) Fantasy play(1) Well-Being(10) Ceremony(1) primary education(1) respect(5) Gratitude(1) Capable(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) ERASMUS+(3) Plastic(1) Mental Health(4) pablo(1) baby room(1) Kindness(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Affordability(1) Iceland(1) youdoodle(1) Design(1) curriculum(5) Budget 2019(2) Graduation(1) First 5(1) Breathing(2) Investment(2) Music(3) Mathematicians(1) ICBN(1) developing motor skills(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Mayo(1) scéalta(55) Advocacy(1) Elders(1) Death(2) Opportunities(1) Weather(1) First 5 strategy(1) AsIAm(2) Favouritism(1) Winter(1) Buddy Bench(1) code of ethics(1) ears(1) Celebrations(4) University(1) Sweets(1) Learning Journal(2) Sequins(1) CCTV(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Shapes(2) routine(2) story time(2) National Awards 2019(1) ELC(1) pets(1) Independence(1) HR(1) Creative(1) Awards(2) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Interests(1) budget(1) Culture(2) imotion(1) Settling in(4) Special Needs Assistants(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Nuturing interactions(1) play pod(1) Technology(3) Degree(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Anxiety(2) Irish(1) Time(1) Anthony Semann(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Infectious diseases(1) Twitter(1) RTE Investigates(1) research(6) Treasure(1) Our Little Seed(1) stories(3) Childhood(1) Reading Time(1) Awards Night(1) Margy Whalley(1) Leadership(1) Self-Esteem(1) Covid19 crisis(1) Painting(1) Kerry(1) risk assessment(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) play pods(2) early years research(2) reopening(1) Builders(1) GoToMeeting app(1) National Holiday(1) TRAP(1) Policy(2) apps for children(1) Visual Impairment(1) Fabric(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Book Review(1) Story(2) Aldo Fortunati(4) Loss(1) research submissions(1) food(1) Masterclass(2) COVID-19(14) Maternity Leave(1) risky play(2) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Early Years(1) Snack Time(1) Nonverbal(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Grief(1) Leaders in Practice(1) emotional well-being(1) Stress(2) Albert Einstein(1) curiosity(3) Research Seminar(1) Upcycling(1) Budget 2020(1) Brain(1) risk(2) Inter-generational learning(2) Xbox(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) coronavirus(1) Maria Montessori(1) Quality(4) Academic Skills(1) planning(1) UNCRC(2) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Children's Voice(1) Learning Stories(9)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine