Joyful Liberation

Joyful Liberation

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Value of Mixed-Age Play

I was given an article at Sego Lily yesterday about the value of mixed age play by Peter Gray. It was very cool to see what I have believed all along proven through research. Being an unschooler, we have always grouped together with kids of all ages. I think that was actually the first observation that David and I had that convinced us that unschooling was the way to go. We were at a support group meeting, with kids, and all the kids ages 2-? were playing together, working together. That was so normal , so natural to us. Why do we separate kids? I am sure those of you that work out in the world are not surrounded by a bunch of other workers the exact same age as yourself! Play is kids work, it is really so important.

Here is a link to the article:

I also found a part 2 here:


This hold so true to my family. My kids have never been grouped in a classroom with a bunch of kids the same age. It is actually an odd concept to me. Even Aspen now at college is grouped with people triple her age. Josh's friends are older than him and younger than him. In fact, his very best friend is 2 1/2 years younger than him. That may not seem like much, but if you put it into school years. Josh would be in 10th grade and his friend in 6th! That is elementary school vs high school and that is a big jump. They wouldn't even know each other, let alone be in the same school. Josh also has a bud coming over today that is 5 years younger than he is. How many 15 yr old boys have a best bud that is 10?

From the article:

Moreover, just as younger children are attracted to the more sophisticated activities of older ones, older children are attracted to the creative and imaginative activities of younger ones. At Sudbury Valley, we have frequently observed teenagers playing with paints, clay, or blocks, or playing make-believe games—activities that most teenagers elsewhere in our culture would have long since abandoned. In the process, the teenagers become wonderful artists, builders, storytellers, and creative thinkers.

I can tell you that my kids are the most imaginative, creative kids. They are definitely different than your typical pubic school 6,13,15 and 18 yr olds. We would never change that!

I love pulling up at school to pick up my kids and see Josh outside on the swing with a 6 yr old and a 10 yr old, or see a game of capture the flag going on with all the kids ages 4-18+. They are all so happy and loving life.
On the other hand, I drive by the local elementary school by my home and I see groups of kids getting the snot beat out of them while the "teachers" just stand by and watch. That has actually been a source of education for my family. My kids can see the unnatural setting that the public school creates on the playground, they don't have to go there to experience it. I think this situation only breeds bullies.

If we want to capitalize on children’s and adolescents’ natural, playful ways of learning, we must find ways to break down the barriers we have erected to keep young people of different ages apart. Age segregation deprives them not only of fun, but also of the opportunity to use fully their most powerful natural tools for learning.

This statement is huge. I hope more and more schools will open up to the idea. It is so important to the future of our kids.

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About Me

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I am a mom to 5 amazing kids and married to my best friend and love of my life. We co-habitate with 1 cat, Asha, 2 dogs, Maggie May and Juniper Wren, a Chinchilla names Ozwald, and a Hamster named Fat Panda. We have lived in Salt Lake City for 13 years by way of Tennessee and Oregon. I love to be with my kids, knit, run, craft, sew, paint,travel, hike and play :) I love our crazy life!