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Old 06-25-2009, 02:03 PM
 
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What is the advantage to a multi-age setting in the classroom vs. a traditional setting. Which environment is best suited for a child. Is a full time gifted program in a traditional school better than a multi-age setting in a charter school? Any educators familiar with this type of teaching?
Thanks.
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Old 06-25-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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okay
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Old 06-25-2009, 02:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cori2mom View Post
What is the advantage to a multi-age setting in the classroom vs. a traditional setting. Which environment is best suited for a child. Is a full time gifted program in a traditional school better than a multi-age setting in a charter school? Any educators familiar with this type of teaching?
Thanks.
Our oldest son attended a private Montessori program beginning when he was 18 months old and continued through until he was about 5 years old. He started out in what they called the "Infant Toddler" program, and then transitioned into the "Primary" program when he was about 3.5 years old. The Infant toddler classroom was geared towards ages 18 months - 3 or 4 years old, and the primary was geared towards children 3 years old until the equivalent of about 1st grade.

Each classroom was actually it's own house on the school grounds, complete with bathrooms, a kitchen, a laundry room, living room, nap room, dining room, etc. Each house was also designed and built (or in some cases remodeled) so that it "fit" the size and development of the children who were being taught within that classroom. For example, in the Infant Toddler classroom, the kitchen was made so that the children could actually stand at the sink to wash their dishes after meal, and the counters were made so that the children could actually stand at the counter to prepare their meals, and that sort of thing. Tables and chairs and toilets and everything was geared towards the size and development of the children. Adults had separate areas of the house for their needs, but the "classroom" part of the houses were made for the children.

Anyway - personally I feel that very early on in a child's development, a mixed-age setting is very beneficial. It allows the younger children to learn from the older children, and it helps the older children learn what it means to be leaders and teachers themselves, by helping the younger children along. The older children, I feel, truly benefit in many ways - one way being that they build confidence as they learn more about themselves as individuals. One of the greatest things about teaching is what you learn along the way.

As our son got older, however, and his personality and individuality began to really shine through... that sort of setting didn't seem to fit him as well. He seemed to need more structure, and more of a traditional approach. Some kids, though, do great continuing on in those kinds of settings. It really just depends on the individual child. If they are highly self-motivated and natural leaders, they could do fine in that sort of setting. Our oldest son, though, needs a little more push at times to keep him challenged and to keep him going. In the more non-traditional settings (we tried a few other things, too, after leaving the Montessori program) he tends to become too relaxed, and gets too distracted, and doesn't apply himself as he should to really, fully benefit from the experience. He's also more of a follower, rather than a natural leader. That is why that particular program was wonderful for him at the younger ages, but as he grew older it didn't work out as well because he didn't want to lead or teach anyone else, and that was sort of expected of him by that time. He tried to help out the younger kids, but it was just really frustrating and distracting for him because it just wasn't his nature. He started becoming thoroughly irritated by school, and that isn't what you want at all. You want them to look forward to going to school. He has done so much better since we enrolled him in public school 6 years ago. That setting just fits him, but for many other types of students, they don't necessarily fit in the public school setting. You just have to learn what works best for your child, and the type of personality and learner that they are.

So, it's not so much whether one setting is better than another for all children... because each child is unique. The question is, rather, which setting would be the best fit for my individual child given her/his unique learning styles and personality?

Good luck to you!
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:46 PM
 
Location: Middle America
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Opportunity for embedded peer mentoring across age demographics is the chief advantage of any multi-age educational setting. There are others, but the constant and consistent modeling of appropriate behavior is one of the biggest pros to the situation.
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:25 PM
 
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I attended a public montessori school, and enjoyed having classmates of different ages. What I liked best, though, was that the resulting classroom teaching was focused more on the individual student's needs and less on grade- or-age-specific curriculum. With the exception of a few topics, most reading and math groups, for example, were based on ability and not grade or age, and in some groups you might work more with kids who were older than you, in others with kids who were younger. Haggardhouseelf described the setting well. In my case it worked extremely well, and I thrived on the greater flexibility it offered. Depending on range of abilities it could get tough if you had too many ages in a class, though; the teacher needs to have time to meet with all the kids and provide instruction and feedback on things, and the spread of needs might get to be too much if you put too many grades together.
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:42 PM
 
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Thanks for the info. I do believe my daughter would do better in a traditional setting. She is going into first grade and a traditional setting provides the structure she needs. She was in a Montessori charter school for PK-4 and did well, however it was hard for her to focus, to much going on in the class at one time. Traditional is best suited for her at this time.
Thanks for the info.
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:50 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cori2mom View Post
What is the advantage to a multi-age setting in the classroom vs. a traditional setting. Which environment is best suited for a child. Is a full time gifted program in a traditional school better than a multi-age setting in a charter school? Any educators familiar with this type of teaching?
Thanks.
How about parents familiar with this type of teaching?

My dd's attended a k-8 school that had multiple grade levels in one room. I loved it. My older daughter entered this school about a year behind and it allowed her to catch up. She is now returning to our home district for high school a year ahead of her peers. My younger daughter is gifted and really needed to jump a grade and this arrangement made that a very smooth jump. I love the concept for lower grades.
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Old 06-25-2009, 06:41 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
How about parents familiar with this type of teaching?
I am familiar with multi-age, both as a student in the 50s-early 60s, and as a parent in the 90s. In elementary school, I was in a 3 grades in a room classroom, which later changed into a 2 grades in a classroom situation. Our teachers taught each grade separately, and the other grade(s) had "seatwork" to do. As a result, we had very little homework, even in the upper elementary grades. I think it did make me more willing to interact with kids in different age groups than some of the kids I met in Jr High (ugh!) who had always been in single-grade classrooms.

My younger daughter was a 3rd grader in a 2-3 combination class. The whole school had muti-age classes at this time, plus single grade. Confused? Joing the crowd! Anyway, this class was run differently than the above. They were supposed to be in a 2 yr curriculum, and since the 3rd graders had already done the field trips and science projects for 2nd grade, they did 3rd grade that year. I don't know how much the 2nd graders got out of Colorado history and the field trips to the state capitol, etc. The next year, the school dropped its multi-age classes. I would say it was neither better nor worse for my DD.

6th grade in my kids' middle school was pretty much single age classes, but in 7th and 8th, they had mixed age classes for many subjects, and by high school, most of their classes except for freshman language arts and social studies were mixed. Actually, it was similar in my high school, especially in math, science and electives.
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Old 07-04-2009, 08:32 PM
 
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It is important that the teachers in a program that offers multi age classes have been trained to teach using this method. The same issue existed when teachers were required to teach in "open classrooms" that were never trained to do it. It was unfair because when the classrooms didn't work, the "open classroom" structure was vilified. Teachers were not at fault either in that case if they were never trained to do it.

Teachers always make the difference in any school using any curriculum model. It is usually the teacher that makes the difference in any school. That being said, children who can observe other children doing a variety of things always gain because they are not only learning from the teacher but from all of their classmates. The classroom is much more suited to allow children to learn tasks when they are ready, not when everyone else is ready. They do not have to be either pushed or wait for others to catch up before they get new lessons.

A child should be taught new skills when the teachable moment for that child occurs. All 3 or 4 year olds are not at the same state of readiness at the same time. Developmental readiness (age) and chorological age are two very different things. For example, some children have fine motor skills that are well developed at age 3 and some at age 5. Children who are either pushed or bored generally do become negative about school at some point.

Just my opinion.

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Old 07-05-2009, 08:51 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 30,738,526 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lindakl View Post
It is important that the teachers in a program that offers multi age classes have been trained to teach using this method. The same issue existed when teachers were required to teach in "open classrooms" that were never trained to do it. It was unfair because when the classrooms didn't work, the "open classroom" structure was vilified. Teachers were not at fault either in that case if they were never trained to do it.

Teachers always make the difference in any school using any curriculum model. It is usually the teacher that makes the difference in any school. That being said, children who can observe other children doing a variety of things always gain because they are not only learning from the teacher but from all of their classmates. The classroom is much more suited to allow children to learn tasks when they are ready, not when everyone else is ready. They do not have to be either pushed or wait for others to catch up before they get new lessons.

A child should be taught new skills when the teachable moment for that child occurs. All 3 or 4 year olds are not at the same state of readiness at the same time. Developmental readiness (age) and chorological age are two very different things. For example, some children have fine motor skills that are well developed at age 3 and some at age 5. Children who are either pushed or bored generally do become negative about school at some point.

Just my opinion.

I agree. The teachers in my dds' school are well trained. They do a round robin style of teaching. First teaching the topic to all then breaking the kids up into groups and moving from group to group teaching and getting the kids started on projects at their level. Para's come behind them and keep the kids on task and help as needed.

I have to give these teacher's credit. They have no downtime. In a traditional classroom, the the teacher has times when the kids are working and she is simply supervising. They teach from bell to bell in my dds' classes. They work a long day too. One thing that has impressed me about this school is I could arrive more than an hour after school and still find my dds' teachers in the classroom working. In our local school (union ) you can't find a teacher ten minutes after the bell rings. As soon as their duty day was done, they were GONE.
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