Building community within a mixed age group of young children

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on November 20, 2011

in Building a Community of learners, Classroom Management

If you haven’t figured it out by now, you should know that the children in my class range from age 3 to age 5. My 3/4 year olds come to preschool 2 days a week and my Pre-K students come 3 days a week. One thing I am working on in my classroom is the sense of community. I want all the children to feel like they belong and I believe part of making them feel like they belong is teaching them how to care about and serve each other….

Last week, I shared with you how my pre-k class made nature shadow boxes.  Having the Pre-k do this on pre-k day worked out great because when I decided to have my threes give this a try, my Pre-K kids were ready to help them out and already knew all the ropes of how to make a nature box…

I assigned each pre-k child a three year old partner and asked them if they would help their partners create a nature shadow box.  I can’t tell you how impressed I was with these kids – both the threes and the pre-k children.  The threes were so excited to have an older partner and the pre-k kids were clearly proud to help their partners complete their projects…

It was one of those moments that you just want to stop and hug everybody in the room! With just a few instructions from me, the pre-k kids led their partners through each of the steps. My instructions were only that the pre-k kids had to let their partners do as much of the process as they could all by themselves…

It is only natural that each child has their favorite friend or is drawn to play with one child over another -this is human nature. My goal isn’t to dictate who needs to be friends with who but to promote kindness and support for each other regardless if it is their best friend or not…

Once we got to the painting part of our process, I invited the pre-k kids to join in and paint too.  They had been so patient and willing to let the threes do most of the process but I could see they were just itching to try the painting too.  The threes loved painting with their partners…

Partnering is a way to help strengthen our community of learners. The older children looked so grown up as they were helping their younger counterparts and the joy on the three’s faces as they got all that special attention from the older children was priceless…

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

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