Exploring children’s leadership through multiage interactions
Educators at Guardian Childcare & Education Marsfield have been inspired by the leadership demonstrated in their preschool cohort, launching a tailored leadership program for the children that builds on strong sibling relationships, and the eagerness of the children for mixed age grouping.
The open plan interior of the service, combined with the want of the older children to be with younger ones during family grouping times was the driving force for Educational Leader, Bitu.
“Related or not, we found many of the older children were keen to engage and play with the younger children, and decided to put some structure around their interactions so we could extend on their interest in each other,” she explained.
The service introduced a leadership/buddy program to encourage the children in their interests, empathy and friendships. The program itself is quite fluid, Bitu said, and is based on the interests of the children and activities they find mutually enjoyable and interesting.
During buddy grouping times, the preschoolers connect with the younger children to sing, read books, play games and assist with feeding, with educators supporting the children to respond to their younger friends with respect and care, valuing difference, responsibility and friendship.
“We have also been exploring appropriate behaviours around young children, such as gentleness or patience, and how we can take care of our younger friends,” Bitu added.
“So far, we’ve witnessed some really beautiful interactions between the children, and are happy to see that one of our main goals for the program, for the younger children to feel safe and cared for and the older children to feel valued and respected, is being achieved.”
Although the leadership program is still in its early stages, it has explored several learning outcomes, including children developing knowledgeable and confident self-identities, and children learning to interact with others with care, empathy and respect.
More information about working with children in mixed age groupings may be found here.