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Mixed-Age Classes

“Classroom Age Composition and Developmental Change in 70 Urban Preschool Classrooms”

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Proponents of mixed-age classrooms in preschool often say younger children benefit from the arrangement because they learn from older children. But a new study finds that such classrooms have negative effects for more mature, advanced children.

Conducted by Arlen C. Moller and Emma Forbes-Jones from the Children’s Institute, a Los Angeles-based advocacy organization, and A. Dirk Hightower, a psychologist at the University of Rochester, the study shows that with greater variety in ages came more negative effects on children’s cognitive, motor, and social skills.

The study, which appears in the November issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology, focused on 806 children in 70 preschool classrooms in a midsize Northeastern city.

“The results support initiatives to maintain and facilitate movement toward preschool classrooms with more restricted age composition,” the authors write. They add, though, that the findings leave “open the possibility that mixed-age preschool classrooms coupled with curricula tailored to such climates could indeed be as good as or even superior to the typical restricted-age classroom.”

Vol. 28, Issue 15, Page 5

Published in Print: December 10, 2008, as Mixed-Age Classes
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