A few tips to successful planning
Planning an activity for multiple children isn’t always easy when there is an age gap of several years. Some child care centres embrace a mix-age group setting, where toddlers and preschoolers are in the same group. Often, home child care providers care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and even school-aged children. These arrangements offer a variety of benefits for children but is challenging to ensure that older children are challenging themselves and learning new skills. Careful planning for the children’s needs based off their current skill level is essential to providing quality care for young children. Below are a few tips to help you along the golden path to mastering lesson planning for mixed age groups.
Keep It Simple
It’s easy to see a cute craft on Pinterest that you know parents would ooh and ahh over, but in a mixed age group, open-ended activities are much easier to plan and carry out. This is especially true for art.
Repeat the same song throughout your week at circle time. Re-read a story. Play a favorite game. Children love predictability. KEEP THIS IN MIND
Toddlers need the chance to practice new skills. Providing them with a familiar activity allows them to revisit those skills and add to their knowledge base. Children who may have been reluctant to try the activity earlier in the week, will be more will to try since they know what to expect.
Older children can be encouraged to share what they remembered from last time. It’s ok to let them ruin the ending. Preschoolers love being able to tell you what happens before you read it! (And they have a lot of fun when you pretend not to believe them, and discover they were right 😉
Plan for Small Group Times
Small group times allows you a chance to foster children in their skill development in a less over whelming environment. In my time at one child care centre, our small group was called Bricolage, which is French for something I do myself (think of DIY). We did bricolage at the same time as free play. Only the children who were interested participated with one teacher, while the other children played. This cut down on undesirable behaviours, as it was something the children chose to do, and smaller numbers gave us the chance to really focus on each child. One or two activities through the week, I would plan more for the older children. Our toddlers were always welcome to come try it out.
Have Preschoolers Help Younger Children
Typically, children are very helpful. Preschoolers love to have special jobs and showing younger children the way to do a task. Keep this in mind while planning. If you’re thinking an activity may be too challenging for the younger children in your care, try to find a way where an older child could help out in some way.
For example, we love to play Seek and Find games when learning a new skill to help reinforce it. I hide the items (let’s pretend they are colourful Easter eggs) around the room. After, the children search the room looking for the eggs. Some younger toddlers have a hard time with searching. If this is the case, I ask a preschooler to help them to find an egg after they have returned with one of their own. Toddlers benefit from hearing a preschooler talk them through the steps, exposing them to relevant vocabulary. Preschoolers learn leadership, as well as empathy. Win-win in my books 🙂
Feel free to share any of your tips and tricks down below in the comment section!
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