In the Mix
The benefits for children of playing in a mixed age group are explored by Anne O’Connor, with advice for practitioners on reinforcing it…
Skye is two years six months old. She has been coming to nursery for a while now and enjoys being outside in the garden. She likes to play with children slightly older than herself and observes them carefully. She goes over to the slide and watches Ella, who is a year older, slide confidently down on her front. Skye kneels beside her at the bottom of the slide and mirrors her actions almost exactly.
When Ella goes back on the slide she runs round to follow her. Ella comes down the slide on her back. This is a tricky manoeuvre for Skye and it is clear this is the first time she has tried it. She perseveres, cautiously twisting her body round until she is ready to launch herself down the slide. She laughs delightedly when she reaches the bottom and runs off to tell a practitioner.
The adult appreciates that this is a new physical development for Skye and responds with excitement to match Skye’s own. Taking the risk has paid off and she returns to the slide to repeat the action with greater confidence.
GOOD PRACTICE 1 Two-year-old Skye is playing in the garden with children who are older than herself. She is a confident runner and this helps her to join in with some of their games. At other times she plays alone or with children nearer to her own age.
The opportunity to watch and join in with the play of older children spurs her on to try new things, to take risks and to physically stretch herself with new movement challenges. Skye knows what to do on a slide and uses it confidently in the regular way. Her careful observation of older children and the way they use the equipment gives her lots of stimulus for trying new ways to use the slide…
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Article written by Anne O’Connor and published in Nursery World © www.nurseryworld.co.uk