Leading Multiple Ages

I walked about the preschool space holding a 6-month-old in my arms, and doing the activities with a 2-year-old. My co-teacher did an activity with the 2-year-old using chenille stems while the 6-month-old and I carried on conversation about what they were doing. At another time during the session, I had to pay more attention to the needs of the 6-month-old. During that time, the 2-year-old worked quietly with a puzzle.

This may be a familiar scenario if you work with multiple ages in one Mission Friends® class. Many smaller churches have one preschool class with all ages combined. Even if there is a class for younger and older preschoolers, there might be multiple ages within those broad age ranges. Blended age groups can sometimes be a challenge, but it can be done!

Here are some pointers if you lead a Mission Friends group with multiple ages.

  • Be flexible. This is probably the most important aspect of teaching multiple ages.

  • Be ready to move to the next activity. For example, wrap up your Group Time story if you see that 3s and 4s are not able to sit through the whole story.

  • Make sure babies and toddlers cannot reach materials that could be a choking hazard. If using materials such as pony beads or plastic counters with older preschoolers, keep these out of reach from younger preschoolers. Supervise carefully.

  • Have activities on hand for older preschoolers to do when you need to focus on feeding or diapering babies. During times such as this, involve older preschoolers in activities such as drawing on blank paper, working puzzles, or looking at books.

  • Position your diaper changing area so your back is not to the rest of the room. Position yourself so you can still see what other preschoolers are doing while you diaper a baby.

  • Choose activities from Mission Friends Leader based on what will work for your group. Read through the activities suggested for each age group, and choose the activities that are best for your preschoolers’ abilities.

  • Simplify. Don’t try to do all of the activities suggested in a session, but choose which activities you will offer.

  • Give older preschoolers more of a part in an activity. For example, kindergartners could cut magazine pictures for the group to glue in making a mural.

  • Be aware that it might take longer for 2s, 3s, and 4s to do some tasks than it will take kindergartners.

  • Remember that younger preschoolers have shorter attention spans. Providing activities in the interest areas allows preschoolers to move from one activity to another as their own attention span determines.

  • For more on teaching blended age groups of preschoolers, the online Develop course, Uniquely Designed: Preschoolers, has a section with tips and ideas.

I enjoy teaching a blended age group of preschoolers because it means that I get to be with those preschoolers in my Mission Friends class over a longer span of time. I really get to know the preschoolers and their families as we are together for more than 1 church year. If you teach a blended age group, see this as a blessing as you impact preschoolers by opening their hearts to God’s love for all people.

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