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Daycare Center and Family Home Forum>Mixed Age Group, How Do You Do It?
Evansmom 06:53 PM 03-27-2013
Up until now I've worked either in classrooms with one age group or since I started my home school I've been able to avoid too much of a gap between children's ages (not on purpose it's just worked out that way).

Monday I have a little girl starting who is only 17 months. I also have an almost 3 year old DCG and a 5 year old DCB plus my 5 year old son. How do I do this? I'm already anticipating having the boys play with smaller toys and Legos at the table in case the youngest is still mouthing things.

Any other advice? It's going to be difficult for me as most of the things we do are geared toward ages 3 and up. The parents know this, they liked that their little girl would be influenced by what the older kids are doing. I'm ok with it too, and my enrollment is down, they are a nice family and I needed to fill the spot
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blandino 07:06 PM 03-27-2013
Originally Posted by Evansmom:
Up until now I've worked either in classrooms with one age group or since I started my home school I've been able to avoid too much of a gap between children's ages (not on purpose it's just worked out that way).

Monday I have a little girl starting who is only 17 months. I also have an almost 3 year old DCG and a 5 year old DCB plus my 5 year old son. How do I do this? I'm already anticipating having the boys play with smaller toys and Legos at the table in case the youngest is still mouthing things.

Any other advice? It's going to be difficult for me as most of the things we do are geared toward ages 3 and up. The parents know this, they liked that their little girl would be influenced by what the older kids are doing. I'm ok with it too, and my enrollment is down, they are a nice family and I needed to fill the spot
The table idea is excellent. Now, we have separate classrooms for babies/toddlers & preschoolers, but when we were all together in one space, we did activities with smaller pieces when the younger ones are napping (especially great if she takes a morning nap). At 17 months, she won't be to fragile, so I think being in the same room won't present too much danger.

Most activities can be adapted, and once you spend some time with DCG - I bet it will be easy for you to adapt them to her skill level.
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Jewels 07:31 PM 03-27-2013
You'll be fine, my younger ones tend to play more solo, while watching the older kids, during circle times they hang out by us, sometimes sit with us, I alter whatever we may be doing for craft, but usually doing bother with to much art until they are close to 2, but will put them up with paper and crayons or fingerprints of something, I have 12 kids ranging from 5 months to 9, I notice kids tend to play in their own age groups, the little ones tend to always stay close to me, they mainly just free play all day, and watch. Oh and I doing have any little legos in the play area, my son has them in his room, and they can only be played with down there, by the kids who are old enough to play without direct supervision. The older kids learn if they want to build or play uninterrupted they need to do it high on the table or in another room, it can be hard to build towers with a little one knocking them down, sometimes they just have to do something else.
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ksmith 01:17 AM 03-28-2013
It can be difficult. I had a playroom separate from my living room, so I was able to send older kids in there with things that had small pieces. The table is also a good idea, but still be careful. I really had to limit toys with small pieces in my living room for this reason.
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Evansmom 07:06 AM 03-28-2013
Thanks for the advice all!

I'm not too worried about the older boys being rough which is good. My DCB who is 5 comes Tu/Th and has a baby sister who he's great with. And my son isn't a typical rambunctious type of all boy boy . He's sweet. But yeah I'm worried about small dropped toys which can be hard to see on my oriental rugs and I'm worried about the boys accidentally forgetting to put things away. My indoor space is pretty small and divided but I think I can figure out a way for them to still build with Legos and such in an area that is off from the rest of us since the boys are old enough and well behaved enough to play unsupervised but within earshot for a while.

I'm a little nervous lol! You'd think after 17 years working with kids it would be no big deal. But mixed age groups is something new for me, there's a first time for everything, right?
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AmyKidsCo 12:27 PM 03-28-2013
I've always had mixed age groups and they've always been together, once the babies are able to crawl. (Before they can crawl I'll put them in an exersaucer or jumper with the older children, or will wear/carry/hold them near the older ones, but wouldn't have them in a swing, bouncy or on the floor unless I was right there the whole time.)

I teach the older ones that the baby isn't allowed to have anything "smaller than their fist" and they help me make sure the baby is safe. We do art and things with smaller parts at the table while the baby is either sleeping, in the high chair doing a version of our activity, or while he's in the play room. My toys are all big enough not to be a choking hazard - like Duplos instead of Legos - and the children learn to watch for random stickers, leaves, stones, etc that babies like to eat.

Overall it's worked out well, although I sometimes feel bad that I never have any "paper" books out for the 4/5 year olds (only board books so the babies can't tear them) or small "loose parts" for them to play with. I think it bothers me more than it bothers them though.
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melilley 12:45 PM 03-28-2013
I have 7, 8, 18, 20 month olds and a 2 1/2 year old! I must say that it does get difficult sometimes! I have a playroom that is my living room that is gated off and when I'm not feeding an infant or the older kids their meals/snacks we are in there. For the 7 and 8 mo olds, I try to keep them in a spot that the others are not in-which results in a lot of moving! I have a basket of baby toys for them and also most of my toys are big and the babies can play with anyways. If I have something smaller for the older children, I have them sit at the table and do the activity and make sure the materials don't fall and the babies can't get it. And I also have to keep the infants away from the sensory table because of some of the stuff I put in there unless I'm holding them and the are playing in it. Now when I do have to feed a baby, I have the other children come in the kitchen/dining room or family room (it's all open) so that I can see them and I close the gate, the 18 mo old is mean so I have to physically have him right by me at all times which is exhausting! I think it depends on the personality of the children on whether it is difficult to have a mixed age group! I think that if I didn't have the 18 mo old, my days would be a lot less challenging, but in another sense, I like the challenge! Oh the 7 mo old cries a lot and that can be challenging!
I would say my biggest hardship for having a mixed age group is trying to get outside! If the babies are sleeping then we can't go out and it always seems to work out that way!
But I guess you do have an older group so it may be easier for you, but I am confident (for lack of a better word) that their personalities do have an impact on how easy or difficult it will be!
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melilley 12:48 PM 03-28-2013
Originally Posted by Evansmom:
Thanks for the advice all!

I'm not too worried about the older boys being rough which is good. My DCB who is 5 comes Tu/Th and has a baby sister who he's great with. And my son isn't a typical rambunctious type of all boy boy . He's sweet. But yeah I'm worried about small dropped toys which can be hard to see on my oriental rugs and I'm worried about the boys accidentally forgetting to put things away. My indoor space is pretty small and divided but I think I can figure out a way for them to still build with Legos and such in an area that is off from the rest of us since the boys are old enough and well behaved enough to play unsupervised but within earshot for a while.

I'm a little nervous lol! You'd think after 17 years working with kids it would be no big deal. But mixed age groups is something new for me, there's a first time for everything, right?
This is my first time with mixed aged groups too! I have always worked in a center setting (14 years) and the ages were pretty much the same in each classroom! I have to say that there are challenges, but as you get in a routine and see what works it gets easier!
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