Many parents worry that split grades are not always the most conducive to learning. They have fears that may include worry about wasted time, distractions, and not enough individualized attention. I have been asked numerous times throughout the years how children learn in a 2 or 3 grade split classroom. After over 15 years of teaching in a split grade classroom I consider myself a little bit of an expert. Personally, as a teacher I enjoy the challenge of teaching multiple grades and as an educator I appreciate the learning benefits for students.
1. Students develop quiet independent work habits as they learn the routine of working quietly on their own as the other class is receiving their lesson. They become more self-motivated and responsible for their own work.
2. Children in the younger grade in a classroom receive an early introduction to their lessons they will be having in the next grade. This not only takes away some of the anxiety of the unknown but also builds up an anticipation of what is going to be happening in the following grade.
3. In contrast students in the older grade in the room have a constant review of concepts previously taught. This helps to both solidify concepts and build confidence in their own understanding of curriculum material.
4. A lot of time is saved at the beginning of the year establishing routines and expectations. Since, especially in the case of our school there is at least one grade that has already had that teacher and therefore the routines and expectations are already known by a portion of the students. The younger students coming into the room easily adapt as they follow the example of the older students.
5. Combined grades helps students develop leadership skills and provides an opportunity for them to work together to master concepts.
I have developed both a love and appreciation for small schools and combined grades.