Thoughts on Children Learning Alongside Other Children

Last week, Elizabeth and I were working on our music unit.  I was also babysitting my cousin’s little girl, Emily, who is three.  By the end of the week, having run out of quite school activities to do while Emily was sleeping in the next room, I set Elizabeth up to doing her worksheets.  On her own, Emily awoke from her nap and joined us, so I photocopied the worksheets for her to color, thus she felt like she was doing school too.

imageWatching them interact, I found that Elizabeth, with another child there along side her, did her worksheets in a totally different manner than when it is just her and I.  She was very know-it-all-ish, explaining to Emily this and that.  As well, she did them all alone; usually she wants me to take turns with her, I think just to keep her company.  It reminded me that, though I don’t think I wish to send her to school where everything becomes a competition and a stress test, it is pertinent to have her learn with other children too.  I know that this is common knowledge too, it’s just that I had that ‘ah-ha’ moment that I need to have on my own in order to come around to things.

Learning with other children helps kids learn from the other children, but also helps them teach other children.  I know that public schools have tried to implement this and have had many mixed results, from what I hear, but it is important.  I think an important component that bleeds right into it is that learning with other children also needs to be done with different age groups.  Elizabeth seemed to feel like she had something to teach Emily because she was older; would she do the same with kids of her own age?  And how would she act with children that she knew were older than her, even if a year or two?  Do they do inter-grade learning activities often in public school?

I’ve said before that I do worry a little about being tied down to some kind of job that will not allow me to get her to activities out of the home.  We live in a small town, the co-op in the neighboring town disbanded (though I’ve heard a number of people talking about it lately, and have met a good number of homeschooling moms at the library, just beginning their experience who may be interested in starting it back up), and classes for homeschoolers generally happen during daytime hours and in neighboring towns.  How will I get her/them to those?  I guess we will cross that bridge if we ever get that far.

I also heard tell the other day that 5 children were turned away from pre-k this year because classes have a maximum size, and with a limited number of teachers, there was an overflow.  Five children were turned away from public school!  What will be the repercussion of that?  It was suggested to me that I possibly teach a private pre-k homeschool class, but…there’s probably ALOT involved in setting that up!  Though, it’s definitely something I would love to do, we had so much fun this year!  I’m seriously considering becoming a registered family day care provider, actually more than considering, I was filling out the registration form today, could a little pre-school fit into that, and include inter-grade studies?  My doctor, who also homeschooled his children, did also suggest to me that I offer specialty homeschooling classes to the local homeschooling population, as I speak Spanish and have a B.A. in biological sciences, two things that may be in demand.  Would these things benefit my children by increasing the time they have with other children, of other ages?

Share your thoughts: What are some ways you encourage your children to learn with others of different ages?

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