Mixed age group learning is something that comes as a part of homeschooling practice. I think it is worth exploring in other settings as well, for example when looking at learning in a family or a community. In an ideal case learning in a same age class in school is also mixed-age, because teachers should be learning something in a process as well :)
I am trying to articulate what are the important ingredients here – a lot of it comes from the reflection on the practices in our homeschooling network and experiences of organising various learning activities there. I’m still not sure about the title – I have chosen “family learning” because I’d like to emphasise that this is about adults and kids together, not just mixed age kids group.
If you are a parent you probably know that kids learn the most from what you do and not what you tell them. There is a big difference between telling kids how to learn and letting them observe and absorb your practices while learning alongside with them.
Working on a project together or doing something of your own when kids are present allows them to observe “parents in action”, as role-models and not only as caregivers or facilitators of kids-centric learning and activities. Essentially, this is about going from “we are here to help kids to learn/do things” to “we are here to learn and do things together with the kids”.
In this context I find two things important:
- Mindset. Making sure that adults have something meaningful to do and to learn, next to taking care of the kids and supporting them. As a participant of an activity you can find or create something meaningful for you personally within it. As an organiser/designer of you can pay attention to adults as a target group next to the children.
- Articulation. Learning is often invisible. What you learn and especially how you do it is not often obvious for others (if they are not trained paying attention to it :)). Thinking aloud as you work on something or sharing your reflections afterwards can help others by making the process visible to them.
More to follow :)