Jan 2024 preschool leader article
Missions Discipleship

Tips for Teaching a Blended-Age Mission Friends Group

As Mission Friends leaders, we have the blessed opportunity to be a part of preschoolers’ spiritual development. While we all do this in our preschool classrooms with activities provided through interest areas and group time stories and activities, how we structure our groups differs from church to church.

Churches have the unique ability to create classrooms that fit their specific needs. Some churches divide their preschoolers into multiple classes based on age. Other churches combine all ages in a blended-age group.

A blended-age group is defined as a group of preschoolers that vary in ages learning together in one classroom. A blended class may need to be formed because of the number of available leaders or the number or ages of attending preschoolers. Whatever the reason, you can create a successful and beautiful blended Mission Friends class.

The Mission Friends curriculum provides classroom activities based on three age groupings: Babies, Ones, and Twos; Threes and Fours; and Kindergarten. The activities and interest areas for each grouping align with the developmental stages of that group. Babies, ones, and twos learn differently than three-, four-, or five-year-olds.

Any combination of these ages creates a blended class. The ability to teach different ages the same material, presented in different ways, may be challenging and require additional planning. Activities for the three age ranges in Mission Friends Leader can be combined and modified to accommodate the needs of your specific blended-age group.

Tips for Teaching a Blended-Age Group

    • With the blending of ages in your classroom, your room may be louder and will seem more chaotic. As you plan each week’s session, be aware of preschooler’s expectations. The younger preschooler will want to do the same activity as an older preschooler. Being aware can control some of the chaos by helping leaders provide guidance and supervision during activities.
    • Activities from the Threes and Fours section will be appropriate for older preschoolers.
    • Not all activities from the Kindergarten section may be appropriate for younger preschoolers.
    • Select activities that will work well for your specific group of preschoolers, making sure to include something for each age level.
    • Age-appropriate activities may need to be modified with the blended ages of preschoolers in your classroom. One example is using larger crayons for twos and threes while the smaller crayons are appropriate for older preschoolers.
    • A younger preschooler will need guidance if you are painting for an art activity. Larger brushes may be required or the presence of a leader providing instruction and encouragement.
    • With guidance, older preschoolers can be encouraged to be helpers in a blended classroom. They can help a younger preschooler build a church in the block area or help them find items in the homeliving area for the session’s activity. They are still learning themselves, but they can also learn by helping.
    • If Babies, Ones, and Twos are a part of the blended class, extra supervision will be needed to keep everyone safe.

A blended class will have challenges, but with careful planning, what a delight those challenges can be as we lead preschoolers to love the Lord and others through the activities suggested in Mission Friends Leader.

by Beth Campbell