Mixed-age learning is a different way of grouping students, it’s not a traditional classroom with all 6-7 year olds, 8-9 year olds, etc. The research done has shown that it has multiple benefits and encourages a positive learning environment. As Lilian Katz wrote in The Benefits of Mixed-Age Grouping, “Although humans are not usually born in litters, we seem to insist that they be educated in them.”
This setup facilitates a similar feeling to the one that most kids get at home, with siblings and parents all interacting with each other. Students feel more comfortable and can then focus more on learning and doing what needs to be done in school.
2. Improved Self-Esteem
Students build up their self-esteem for all the reasons mentioned in this blog. They are able to learn at their own pace and the lack of harmful competition allows them to feel comfortable asking questions and feeling confident in their knowledge.
3. Less Damaging Competition
By expecting all students in the same age group to perform at a certain level, it often creates an unhealthy competition of being the “best” and “smartest.” But taking away the constant comparisons allows kids to learn at their own pace and excel on their own without being compared to someone else that’s the same age as them. There’s more time to learn the material, and really learn it, when students aren’t worried about the end of the year coming up and thus moving into a new grade level.
4. Benefits Both Younger and Older Kids
Soviet psychologist, Lev Vygotsky, was an early proponent to mixed-age learning. He said that it was important for the younger children to have the older ones as mentors and set good examples for how they should behave. On the other hand, older students benefit from classrooms that are mixed because they get the opportunity to act as leaders and educators themselves, it gives them a sense of responsibility and leadership. Some parents worry that mixed-age classrooms will “hold back” the older students. However, research shows that the older child will still work at their level, they just also help bring the younger ones with them.
5. Individualized Learning
Mixed-Age grouping allows a certain amount of freedom when it comes to student learning. Katz explained, “There is no evidence to show that a group of children who are all within a twelve-month age range can be expected to learn the same things, in the same way, on the same day, at the same time.”