What is Multiage?
Simply put, a multiage classroom is comprised of students of mixed ages. Typically children are in classes of two or three grade levels such as 1st and 2nd Grade, K/1/2 or 5th & 6th Grade. Children spend the entire 2-3 years with the same teacher in a classroom that is truly a family unit. The multiage classroom is a learning atmosphere that exists deliberately for the benefit of the child. It does not exist for the purpose of economics or enrollment statistics. It promotes unity, diversity and success through developmentally appropriate practices according to how children learn. In a multiage classroom, children can find the security to develop a positive self-concept that lays the groundwork for lifelong success.
How Multiage Benefits Students
Instruction is geared toward individual student needs.
In a graded system, the curriculum is often designed around a homogenous set of standards. In many cases, there are children who exceed or fail to meet these standards. Children have many developmental levels and learn in many different ways. In a multiage class, the child learns on his/her own developmental timeline.
Children spend 2 or 3 years with the same teacher.
This enables the student to build a secure relationship with the teacher and allows the teacher to get to know the child, therefore improving the quality of his/her education. Parents often ask, “will my child be challenged if they are a 5th grader in a 4th and 5th grade class?” ABSOLUTELY, in fact maybe more so then in a straight grade class. A teacher that has already worked with a child for a year, knows how they operate already and can already on the first day of the second year start where they left off with out have to find baselines all over again. A teacher who has worked with a child already, can truly tailor a student’s education to their own learning style and needs.
The child is a member of the multiage family unit.
In a multiage classroom, community is the emphasis. The closer the community atmosphere is, the more secure the children feel. This often results in improved quality of performance.
Respect for individual differences is respected.
In a multiage class, the teacher understands that each child is unique and has a unique way of learning. The class understands this as well. The result is a non-threatening, supportive atmosphere.
Assessment reflects instruction.
A multiage teacher will assess his/her student's performance using more authentic means of measuring progress. Authentic assessment tells the teacher on a daily basis how the child is progressing and if they can effectively apply their knowledge beyond just regurgitating it.
Cross-age learning is experienced.
Students learn to help one another. This is not a requirement in a multiage class, it just happens naturally. There is no better way to prove you have mastered a task, then to teach it to another person.
Focus is on success.
Progress is not measured by what a child does not know, but what a child does know. The child moves forward, building on prior knowledge – MAKING CONNECTIONS IS KEY.
The security, community, familiarity and continuous progress of a multiage environment allows the child to see the good in himself. He sees how successful he can be and becomes empowered. The older students become the experts and are relied upon as role models and leaders.
Student learning groups are that are fluid. Students are constantly working with different peers based on interest, ability level and personality.
Children develop the skills to become lifelong learners.
Student choice and interest is always considered. The students begin to think of learning as exciting and fun, rather than a chore. Students are allowed to see things through to the proper end so that they may engage in another thought-provoking activity with enthusiasm.