NEC 733.000 08/516573 Ruth Dickerson
Explain how to meet the learning needs of mixed age groups in the home-based setting
One of the biggest advantages of mixed age groups is that they make us really analyse the individual needs, interests, and temperaments of each child in the group. We can then plan and provide for the next steps in learning, by getting to know our group of children very well, and making careful observations on them, as individuals, what they do and how they interact with others. This knowledge can then be mapped to the EYFS Practice Guidance over the six areas of Learning and Development and used to devise individual learning plans by assessing activities, opportunities and experiences based on their individual development, interests and needs.
Careful planning and organisation are critical factors in meeting the learning needs of different age groups. Each play area, including outside, must provide the maximum of learning opportunities for all ages in your care, using barriers e.g. gates and big cushions only where needed for safety so that infants and toddlers feel included whenever possible.
A good idea is to go through the house looking at the room from the child’s level. What would the baby see first, what would the toddler or pre-schooler see first? What appeals to the school-age child? You can create small play areas for special activities, e.g. using a sturdy playpen or hallway as an "office" for older children when they want to colour, do a puzzle, play a board game or do something without "help" from toddlers. The little ones can then watch without interfering with the activity.
A range of open-ended multiple-use resources should be used, that can be played with in different ways according to stage, such as balls and bricks and Lego. Toys that are safe for children of all ages can be kept on low shelves easily accessible, e.g. blocks, board books,...
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