What About Multi-Grade Classrooms?
Grace Lutheran School makes use of multi-grade classrooms (i.e. 1st through 3rd grades meet together in the same classroom and 4th through 8th graders meet together in the same classroom) to allow for smaller class sizes with fewer teachers. While some may be concerned that their children will get less attention in a multi-grade classroom, studies have actually shown that the educational benefits of a multi-grade classroom abound. Here are just a few...
Multi-Grade Classrooms Foster Cooperation
Students learn how to help one another and themselves. At an early age, students are expected to develop independence. The effective multigrade teacher establishes a climate to promote and develop this independence. For example, when young students enter the classroom for the first time, they receive help and guidance not only from the teacher, but from older students. In this way, they also learn that the teacher is not the only source of knowledge.
Instructional grouping practices also play an important role in a good multigrade classroom. The teacher emphasizes the similarities among the different grades and teaches to them, thus conserving valuable teacher time. For example, whole-class (cross-grade) instruction is often used since the teacher can have contact with more students.
Cooperation is a necessary condition of life in the multigrade classroom. All ages become classmates, and this closeness extends beyond the walls of the school to include the community.
— Teaching and Learning in the Multigrade Classroom: Student Performance and Instructional Routines. ERIC Digest
Multi-Grade Classrooms Encourage Social and Emotional Development
Multi-grade classrooms also support the social and emotional development of students. Behavior problems are minimized because older children know the rules and can model for younger children. Children learn to get along with others of various ages. Children have a broader selection of friends than just the 20 or fewer in their grade.
Reading may be taught in two, three or four different groups. Writing is usually taught to the whole class at once, with different expectations for different ages. For instance, everyone may write on the same topic, with 1st graders writing a few words or sentences and drawing a picture, while 2nd graders write a paragraph or two.
Multi-Grade Classrooms Develop Deeper Teacher-Student Relationships
The multi-grade classroom allows the relationship between the teacher and student/parent to develop, grow, evolve and blossom over the years spent working together.
The multi-grade classroom allows the relationship between the teacher and student/parent to develop, grow, evolve and blossom over the years spent working together. The opportunity for leadership and patience is ripe in multi-age classrooms.