Laura Lightner: Multiage

What Is Multi-Age Education?

Multi-age education is the deliberate placing of children of different ages, and abilities in the same classroom. Within the classroom, students are often regrouped into different learning abilities, rather than being taught at age level. As adults, we are all different. We learn differently, we excel in different areas and we have different¬† emotional maturity. Children are no different. The students often remain with the same teacher or teaching partners for more than one year, therefore forming a ” family ” of students and teachers.
We split the students only for math in our k-1 program. The teacher who has k will keep them for 1st grade math and move them accordingly.
Multi-age is not a new practice. We consider the graded classroom as a staircase. You start at step one and you are given everything you need for that step. You then progress to step two, and so on.
Consider the multiage classroom as a path.  Some students will run along the path, others will walk or slowly wander all at that own pace.
The main components of a multi-age classroom are:
– A minimum 2 year span
– Each student remains in the classroom for 2 years with the same teachers.
– The classroom therefore becomes a family,building better relationships between students,teachers,and parents
– Teachers learn to recognize each student as an individual
– Children learn to see each other in terms of personal qualities and capabilities
-Teachers structure learning actives to meet the needs of the individuals,rather than to teach to an imaginary middle of the class.
The multiage classroom exists for the benefit of the child, not student numbers,or school finances. A teacher is often confronted with a class with widely diversified strengths,weaknesses,interests and abilities. It is not beneficial to give these children all of the same work. They need to experience suitable activities for their capabilities. The multiage classroom promotes a diverse environment, where children do not feel the need to compete, only to do their best.

In a multiage classroom, children can develop a positive self-concept that lays the foundation for life.

Advantages of Multi-Age Education
Research shows that multi-age promotes cognitive and social growth. The wider age span also promotes an active learning environment as the students are not expected to ‘preform” at their “age level”, but encouraged to preform to the best of their abilities. The teacher is better able to focus on the individual child’s learning. The students are encouraged to learn from each other, as well as teachers and visitors to the classroom. Multi-age education recognizes the natural development of the child.
Advantages for the students of multi-age education include:
-Quality relationships with teachers
-A positive classroom climate
-Better learning and enhanced self esteem from increased inter-dependence and peer tutoring
-Increaced independence from the teachers
-A wider range of roles within the group for the students
-Peer tutoring-students learn from each other
-Small grouping
-Enriched academic activities

-Better socialization

-Improved self esteem
-Respect for individual differences