By Annie Carey, Rivendell Younger Kids Teacher
One of the first things parents notice as they tour Rivendell is that children of different ages are learning and socializing together happily within each classroom. Our multi-age classrooms help create a strong feeling of family that we all love at Rivendell, and they also do a lot more to benefit our children.
Just what are some of the benefits of a multi-age classroom?
Emphasis is on the child, rather than the curriculum.
Children are viewed as unique individuals. The teacher focuses on teaching each child according to their own strengths, unlike in same-grade classrooms that often expect all children to be at the same place at the same time with regard to ability. Students learn at their own pace, rather than being taught skills that they are not ready for or that they have already mastered. The focus becomes the child’s learning rather than the adult’s teaching. Children are invited to take charge of their learning, by having more opportunities for choices. This sense of “ownership” and self-direction is the foundation for lifelong learning.
Students benefit from peer learning.
Children often learn best from one another. Younger children watch the older ones enjoy advanced, challenging work, and this inspires them. They look to the older children for guidance, and the older children have the opportunity to serve as mentors and take on leadership roles. Leading, whether by modeling classroom procedures or helping a younger student add numbers, is a critical experience for a young child. Integrating this leadership mindset into the classroom shifts teaching strategies. There is not so much lecturing as there is group work.
Children learn diverse social skills and tend to cooperate more than compete.
Classrooms become caring communities that help children socially as well as academically. Students learn skills in an integrated, authentic context, rather than in isolation. In essence, multiage classrooms better reflect the natural groupings in society - in our neighborhoods and communities - and provide more opportunities for the exchange of ideas and experiences. Children are more likely to cooperate than compete. The spirit of cooperation and caring makes it possible for children to help each other as individuals, rather than see each other as competitors.
Children tend to have a positive outlook towards themselves and school.
Research has shown that students in multi-age classrooms were found to have higher self-esteem, more positive self-concepts, less anti-social behavior and better attitudes toward school than their peers in single-grade classes. When children observe different learning levels around them, they naturally develop a “growth mindset.” Having a growth mindset (the belief that you are in control of your own ability, and can learn and improve) is an important key to success.
As we watch children learn to grow at Rivendell, we see these benefits of our multi-age classrooms in action every day. We are happy to know that Rivendell kids are getting the foundation they need to become happy, well-adjusted individuals later in life.
Learn more about Rivendell at rivendell-school.org or visit our admissions pages to schedule a tour. Enrollment for the 2020-21 school year is open to the public on Monday, Feb. 3. We currently have spaces for preschool - 5th-grade students. Learn more at https://www.rivendell-school.org/admissions/.