Comparing Peer-Interactions, Teacher-Child Interactions, and Challenging Behaviors in Same-Age and Mixed-Age Preschool Classrooms

By Raquel Plotka.

Published by The International Journal of Early Childhood Learning

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 2, 2016 $US5.00

Theorists and researchers have conflicting opinions and findings regarding the role of mixed-age classrooms in preschool education. According to Piaget interactions with peers of the same age are preferable, since children closer in age are more likely to learn in similar ways. However, Vygotsky believed that interactions among children of different ages provide an optimal context for development. The present study aimed at assessing whether mixed or same-age classroom status affects the quality of peer interactions, teacher-child interactions, and children’s behaviors in the preschool classroom. Data from 308 teachers placed in three, four, and mixed three- and four-year-old classrooms, serving children from low socio-economic status in urban preschools, was analyzed using General Linear Models (GLM). The results have shown that in mixed-age classrooms, teachers reported lower levels of conflicts in peer interactions (F (1, 302) = 9.92, p = .0001), lower levels of negative teacher-child interactions (F (1, 302) = 6.13, p = .002), and marginally lower levels of challenging behaviors than in same-age classrooms (F (1,302) = 3.41, p = .06). The results of this study inform theory and practice regarding the role of mixed-age classrooms in preschool education and can prove valuable in the development and implementation of preschool programs, especially those serving low-income children.

Keywords: Preschool, Mixed-Age Classrooms, Peer-Interactions, Teacher-Child Interactions, Challenging Behaviors

The International Journal of Early Childhood Learning, Volume 23, Issue 3, September 2016, pp.21-31. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 2, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 361.495KB)).

Dr. Raquel Plotka

Assistant Professor, Pace School of Education, Pace University, New York City, New York, USA