Mixed age grouping advice needed

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by Minimuscles, Jul 12, 2008.

  1. Minimuscles

    Minimuscles Rookie

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    Jul 12, 2008

    I have taught Integrated Early Childhood Special Education for 12 years in Missouri. I have two half-day sessions. The morning class had 3-year-olds; the afternoon class had 4-year-olds. The classes are generally half and half children with delays in development and those without delays who serve as role models of typically developing skills.

    This fall, we will be adding a bus route for my class. Previously children were transported by parents since they are so young. Because of the routes the bus will need to take, my students will be grouped by area rather than age. Otherwise, the bus would spend all day driving around and it would lower the amount of class time. So I will have two mixed age classes of 3's and 4's.

    I do have one para in my room full-time. My biggest concern is meeting the needs of both age levels. Sometimes 3-year-olds are still babies really. The 4-year-olds will be in Kindergarten the next fall, and we usually do more literacy, pre-reading and math activities with that age level to get them ready for our very academic Kindergarten. I will only have 10 students per class. Does anyone have suggestions on scheduling, ways to work with children in both age groups?
     
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  3. Joyride

    Joyride Comrade

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    Jul 13, 2008

    I think that as long as you and your para are aware of the different expectations for each age level, you'll do fine. I've seen other centers do two teacher-directed groups while the 3 groups are assigned to an area. The small groups lasted about 15 minutes and the students new that it was time to transition when the timer went off. (In this case, the groups were followed by free choice centers). Snack was part of the assigned rotations (but after the small group time, you'll need to monitor who has snack.. or you could do it as a whole group and just have a different center for that group. It seemed to help to have them seated and able to be fairly independent. You'll need to establish what the children who finish snack before those 15 minutes are up can do). Here is a picture of the chart used to keep track of groups. (Sorry that it's blurry, but it gives you an idea). [​IMG]
    [​IMG] On the top are the days of the week, and to the left are areas- if you planned to lead your small group at Table Toys, the orange group would be your first group of the week. We also made laminated cards with each child's name and picture on their color to signify their group. By the end of the year, most children will probably have their group memorized.


    How do you feel about the children being bused?
     
  4. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Jul 13, 2008

    We have mixed ages all the time, however we are more "project based" and less theme or public school based. My staff and I have found that, as the PP said, if you know what is Developmenally Approriate for each section of each age the centers will take care of themselves. Art to a 3 isn't going to interfere with art to a 4 as long as both are free and the 4 isn't forced to use the 3's mixed paint colors. I see in your prior post that you have already been running the 3/4 ages, just differently and that you have had SpEd experience. I feel that the individual modification necessary for mixed ages feels a lot like the individual modifications for special needs.

    I really enjoy mixing the ages. I think the ages really learn a lot from each other as they intermingle and experiece each others strenghts and weaknesses.

    Enjoy.
     
  5. ready2teachintx

    ready2teachintx Companion

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    Jul 13, 2008

    I would suggest in whole group activiteis such as circle time, music and story time, keep it simple where everyone can adapt. During center time, art, p.e. you can adapt it for the age or based on their IEP goals and maybe have your para do the one-on-one or work with all the 3-year old.
     
  6. Minimuscles

    Minimuscles Rookie

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    Jul 13, 2008

    To Joyride: Well, ours will be a small bus just for my class. The classes are going to be divided so that kids living in similar geographic areas are in the same class to hopefully cut down on some of the ride time. This is a rural area. There are a couple of them that live 5-10 miles out of town. I already share some students with Head Start. Some Head Start students attend Head Start half a day and my class half-a day. They are usually children with delays who need to come to my class; however, they also allow model children to also attend since they are bringing children over, anyway. Head Start is 15 miles away, so some students are already used to riding a little bus. I have found that it seems to work fine for the majority of kids. They usualy like riding a bus. Having our own bus, though, will be a totally new experience. I guess we will learn positives and negatives along the way. Hopefully, we won't make too many mistakes!
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2008
  7. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Jul 13, 2008

    This is starting my 11th year with preschool SPE and 2nd year having typical peers in there. My SPE kids have always been bused in and they are full day. Sometimes my 3 yr old and 4 yr olds are pretty much on the same level unless you get someone that is really low and has severe disabilities. THAT is what makes it difficult. Mixing 3s and 4s is not that hard... mixing the really low ones that are like having a 1 yr old is what makes it hard.

    Good luck this year! :)
     
  8. ready2teachintx

    ready2teachintx Companion

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    Jul 14, 2008

    I agree with Special. I had a low student last year that was functioning as a 6 month old. All of the rest of the class were ages 3-4 and they were able to stay on the same work. I had to work one-on-one with my little guy. It was tough!
     
  9. Minimuscles

    Minimuscles Rookie

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    Jul 15, 2008

    Mixed age grouping

    It will be challenging, I think. I will have several who just turn 3 this summer and a couple who will turn 5 during the winter. A couple of the three-year-olds I already know are still babyish. I appreciate you all's ideas and comments.

    For three years in a row I also had a child who was like an infant or toddler. The child is in State School now. She was much much lower than even my other special ed. kids. Those were difficult years. So far, it doesn't appear I will have any that low. But I do have a few really young ones as I mentioned.

    I think there will be benefits. It will just be an adjustment for me and my para.
     

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