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Developmentally approrpriate practices in a mixed-age classroom

1 January 1998


The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer the following research questions: 1) How does the teacher guide activities to met the needs and interests of the children in a mixed-age classroom?, 2) How do the children react to the activities that are developmentally appropriate? and 3) What strategies are used to facilitate the developmentally appropriate practices used in a mixed-age classroom and how successful are they? These sub-questions were used to help the researcher to answer the main question: How are developmentally appropriate practices exhibited in a mixed-age classroom? The researcher used the resources from the NAEYC (1989) as a definition of the developmentally appropriate practices used in a classroom. This definition was used because the students in this study are placed in a mixed-age classroom. A mixed-age classroom promotes these practices by recognizing and planning for a wide range of students abilities, providing for different levels of progress and adjusting to individual emotional and social needs (Lodish,1992). The study took place in a suburban K-5 elementary school in Oregon. The participants were children in a first and second grade mixed-age classroom and their teacher. The information was gathered through observations of classroom interactions and activities. There were a few casual interviews with the teacher. All the names in the study are pseudonyms to protect the privacy of the school and the individuals in the study. After collecting and analyzing the data the researcher found an abundance of ways the teacher implemented developmentally appropriate practices in her mixed age classroom. The children's needs and interests were met through a guided curriculum, flexible groupings and by having many developmental levels in the same classroom. The teacher used many strategies suggested by the NAEYC (1989) in her classroom to guide her students in the use of the developmentally appropriate activities. She used exploration, projects, integrated units of study and by providing a positive democratic classroom. The reactions of these methods were for the, mostly positive. There was little frustration and much active participation in the classroom.


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