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The social interaction of children in mixed age kindergarten groups


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Borovac, Tijana. (2014). The social interaction of children in mixed age kindergarten groups. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Pedagogy.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij pedagogije) [mentor Irović, Stanislava].

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The social context and relationships in mixed-age educational groups are recognized in modern pedagogy as being most similar to family contexts. Nevertheless, in the existing educational practice age-homogeneous groups prevail. In them, the children have the opportunity to cooperate and interact with those similar to them in terms of development. If the idea of mixed-age groups were to take hold it is assumed that it would have multiple benefits for the children. For example, the children would be able to choose their collocutors and playmates of different levels of competence. The less competent children enter a zone of future development, and the more competent children enter a zone of meta-competence. The pedagogical potentials of mixed-age groups have been recognized at the international level and the recommendations for organising these types of educational groups are included in many documents of the European Union. The fear of some researchers and practitioners that in mixed-age group interactions the older children “loose” the most reflect a lack of understanding of the concept of mixed-age groups. The real, pedagogically justified mixedage group refers to the presence of three or more equally represented age groups. That is, there is an appropriate balance between the chronological age and the sex of the children. This fear is intensified by inappropriate organisation of mixed-age groups, therefore every sporadic inclusion of children of another age group (senior or junior) is referred to as a mixed-age group. Therefore, many researches and practices of early education conducted in such groups produce negative result and shortcomings despite the numerous benefits to the children. With regard to the conducted research, it has been proven that the biggest problems are actually in the educator’s procedures and organising mixed-age group activities and area as if they were homogenous groups. Furthermore, no statistically significant correlation was determined between the educators assessment of prosocial and aggressive behaviour of children with social (sociometric) status of monitored children. By tracking the behaviour of children in mixed-age groups it has been observed that they mostly interact during free-play and that their peer groups are formed according to the criterion of friendship which is not directly related to the chronological age. Instead of their chronological age, children build friendships and activities, particularly play, based on common interests. The results show that if the group is mixed-age the children have the ability to choose different play-mates (including their peers) and to practice different levels of participation in activities - from following to leading. Therefore, mixed-age educational groups are in accordance with the concept of developmental appropriateness and the holistic approach to the child’s development which aims to provide for him different experiences of relationships and his surroundings. The results of this research have a strong pragmatic value and can serve as a support to educators and pedagogues in questioning their own pedagogical practice and professionalism, as well as a guideline for improving the pedagogical practice and raising the quality of mixed-age groups in institutions for early and preschool education. The scientific contribution of the study is the examination of existing methodologies in research with children.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: interaction, mixed-age groups, social competencies, early and preschool education institutions, educators, mixed method
Subjects: Pedagogy
Departments: Department of Pedagogy
Supervisor: Irović, Stanislava
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij pedagogije
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2016 07:38
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2016 07:38

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