Google+ Authentic Parenting: The misconception of age groups (rerun)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The misconception of age groups (rerun)

Playdate this week was a bit crowdier than what I'd expected. Normally there's the three toddlers and a baby, but my friend not only brought somebody elses kids along with her two. Now I must admit I kind of freaked out when I saw them all arrive. Remember that I live a calm and secluded life, so six kids at a time is a lot for me. But what freaked me out even more was the enormous age difference.

In our playdate group there's not a lot of difference in age. There's a little boy who's almost two and a half, another girl who's 22 months old and then my daughter with almost 21 months. And the baby is about 8 months old, but she mostly plays on her own, with her mommy or her nanny. But the two other kids! They are 5 and 7... How the heck can I find an activity to keep them all busy, without having to run around like a crazy woman?
I had only gotten out toddler toys: a tunnel, a doll, some card games... Frantically, I ran into the house looking for what I could take to get all the kids to play together. I had playdough, but then I would have to unstick pieces of it for another week. The book, they are for too young an audience.

Then it hit me, let's have them draw!
I brought in pencils and wax crayons, some stickers and a bunch of paper, and there they all were, all six of them, drawing away.

So it dawned me... The idea of having to split up kids into age groups is madness, and moreover completely artificial. My toddler enjoyed drawing on the same paper the seven year old did. She might have even learned from it, as he told her what he was drawing and that he would like her to colour the sky blue instead of pink.
There are more then enough activities a mixed group of children can do together.
The age group thing is again a thing our society has doctored out of necessity. As a means to get both parents to work and have as little personnel possible to take care of the children left behind. It is a bit trickier to have diffferent age groups focused (or not so focused) enough around one activity, so it is possible to keep an eye on them all. But it is not impossible.
A lot of arts and crafts appeal to a wide age group. Story reading also works for small and bigger kids - just pick a story that's interesting enough for the older ones, and that has drawings enough for the small ones.

The idea that you have to divide kids up into age groups is a mindset after all. So if we detach ourselves from this, we might come up with some pretty nice ideas... And they might even pick up something from each other.
Playing with younger children teaches your child patience and communication skills, while the younger ones get a chance at learning a great deal, without their mommy holding their hands (a seven year old won't explain something the same way you would). So it's a win-win situation.



  1. I totally agree and have tried to combat this in my own social groupings. It's an uphill battle against the way people think things should be — and for older kids, you have to convince them, too. I even agree with this principle as it relates to adults: I've learned so much from adults much younger and much older than me. If I stayed with only the people at my exact stage of life, how does that stretch me?

    Really enjoying combing through your blog today! :)

  2. Thank you!
    And you are so right, Imagine where we would be if adults only interacted with people of the exact same age... Comes to show that school doesn't prepare for real life whatsoever.
    I have a lot of friends that could be my parents or even my grandparents. And I love talking to teens. I find mixing age groups very enriching


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