At Lovenotes School of Music we use the educational concept of “mixed-ages learning”. Many times parents wonder, “What can my 6-month-old get out of this class if they can’t hold the shaker yet and dance to the rhythm”, or “Is my 3 ½ year-old too old to be in a class with babies?” In a nutshell, the beauty of a mixed-ages learning environment is that the children get to learn skills organically and in their own time. First they learn by observation, then they learn through action and finally they begin to master their abilities and become the class leaders. And not just with music - in a Lovenotes mixed ages class children also learn self-control, patience, compassion and self-confidence!
To further delve into the advantages of mixed-ages classrooms, I talked to Sarah Gourley, the director of the popular urban one-room-schoolhouse Greenwood Schoolhouse in Toronto’s east end. She runs a mixed-ages academic program for 3-6 year olds and is passionate about the model. Here is what she had to say:
Greater Learning Opportunities
A multi-age class provides greater opportunities for the construction of knowledge by students themselves. The curriculum becomes multidimensional and the ways in which children develop their understanding of new concepts and ideas is more flexible. Revisiting ideas reinforces, clarifies and consolidates understanding and moreover, children are able to progress based upon their own readiness.
Each child is able to take pride in their own unique achievements. The greater flexibility of a multi-age class means that students are not expected to hit the same benchmarks at the same time. Instead, each child is celebrated and valued as an individual and activities can be easily adapted to emphasize the strengths of each child, while identifying and addressing any areas where learning may need to be scaffolded more thoroughly.
Multi-age groupings in schools and extracurricular classes like music increase opportunities for developing social intelligence, learning new skills and having fun. They provide children with examples of circumstances that are more typical of life in general where people come together based upon shared interests. A multi-age classroom can become like a little family, creating comfort and familiarity, and setting students up with a strong foundation that will give them the confidence to then step out of their comfort zone and try new things.
One of the most important skills a child can cultivate is compassion, both for others and for themselves. By being an engaged member in a community of learners of varying ages and abilities, children develop awareness that we are all special in our own ways. By eliminating the expectation that all students in a class should be the same at any given point in time, we also eliminate the risk of children feeling like they are either a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’. The nurturing multi-age classroom allows all children to develop a love of learning instead of a fear of failure and it allows children to learn to celebrate each other’s achievements because each child is valued for who they are as an individual.
Do you have a child between 0-5 years old who loves music? Are you interested in a unique and nurturing program? Why not try a free trial class with Lovenotes!
Click here to read more about our classes.
Click here for more information about Greenwood Schoolhouse’s mixed-ages pre-k to SK programs.