The Importance of Mixed Age Play

Children playing only with others of their own age is a relatively new concept. This idea of separating children by age has been made increasingly stark through our current (yet completely outdated) education system.

Throughout most of human history, children played with other children in multi-age groups.

Our society has swung so far to the extreme that it is rare to be able to find activities that are open for children of mixed ages. Also, it is rare to find children of various ages groups playing together unless they are family.

Benefits of Mixed-Age Play

Mixed-age play (and mixed-age schooling) has been shown, through various studies, to have a variety of significant benefits to children of all ages. Some benefits are:

– Better moral reasoning  – More rapid cognitive development – Increased ability to understand literacy and numeracy concepts

– Awareness of concepts that would traditionally be considered beyond their level – Increased social and emotional awareness

Benefits of Mixed-Age Play for Young and Old

The benefits are not just for the youngest of the group. Mixed-age play allows the older child to assume a greater sense of responsibility and practice nurturing in real time. 

Being around younger kids allows them to play teacher and act as role models.

It is often through these types of relationships that they develop a better sense of empathy, a stronger ability to compromise and collaborate, and a sense of empowerment to solve more complex problems or navigate unique social situations.

Mixed-Age Play Impacts Kindness and Empathy

When children play together in mixed age groups, they are constantly adjusting their behavior to meet the needs of the various ages in the group.

A Call to Action for Our Children Our current society often very strictly segregates children by age. This means it is important for parents and caregivers to move to provide more opportunities for children to spend time with others of different age groups

Want more information about  The Importance of Mixed Age Play