Federal Report Roundup

Mixed-Age Classes

By Linda Jacobson — December 09, 2008 1 min read

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.”

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A version of this article appeared in the December 10, 2008 edition of Education Week

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