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The main aim of this study is to explore the perceptions and experiences of children, parents and staff participating in a mixed-age model of early year’s provision using a qualitative approach. The researcher will take an approach which will aim to interpret and clarify the participant’s experiences.
Using semi-structured interviews, a focus group and an observation of practice the study will address questions such as what were the perceptions of the children, staff and parents experiencing a mixed age group model. Has the mixed-age model proved to be advantageous and/or challenging to the community of the service? How could the provision be improved for those involved?
Research has suggested that both older and younger children benefit from this model in a variety of different ways. However these benefits are not necessarily automatic. There appears to be a number of relevant factors such as, the optimum age range of the children concerned, the allocation of time to the mixed age group, the percentage of older to younger children and the strategies which the adults will put in place to maximise the developmental outcomes for all children within the mixed age group.
Thematic analysis was carried out to capture the relevant data in relation to the research question posed and in an effort by the researcher to establish the configuration of responses within the data collected.
This study has shed some light onto the workings of a mixed-age group setting. In analyzing the findings there appears to be huge benefits to the children attending this particular service. The philosophical beliefs underpinning the service appear to provide the children with unique learning opportunities and social experiences. This study does not attempt to suggest that all settings should operate in this manner but rather seeks to give some insight into an alternative method of early year’s provision.
Goodwin, Helena (2014) It’s in the Mix. An exploratory study into the experiences of children, parents and staff in the provision of a mixed age group model in a West Dublin early years’ setting. Masters Dissertation, Dublin Institute of Technology.