What is a Multi-age Classroom?
One Definition: (as listed in Exploring the Multiage Classroom by Anne A. Bingham) –
- “A [multi-age] classroom is one in which the developmental range is wider than that in a single-grade classroom…children’s developmental diversity is celebrated, valued as part of a natural community of learners, and is harnessed in subtle ways to support learning…It is not a classroom where a (for example) “second-grade” curriculum and a “first-grade curriculum” go on simultaneously. All children may work on the same topic but in different ways or at their own individual speed.” (p.6-8)
All classrooms include students working at varying levels and, as educators, we address each student’s individual needs. Therefore, philosophies defining the multi-age classroom can in fact be used in every classroom.
Some Beliefs that Guide Multi-age Teaching
(as listed in Exploring the Multiage Classroom by Anne A. Bingham)
- A belief in child-centered learning
- A belief that active, concrete learning experiences are essential for young children
- A belief in the importance of community
- A belief that many kinds of learning are essential
- A belief that human interaction, including conversation, supports rather than detracts from learning
- A belief that continuity in the school setting is of value to young children
- A belief that the traditional role of schools in society remains important
- A belief that children’s progress should be assessed by looking at their own growth rather than by comparing them with others in their age group
- A belief that the learner can be trusted
- A belief that the teacher is also a learner
- A belief that a wider-than-usual range of ages best supports these convictions
What does the Research say about Multi-age Classrooms?
As written in Exploring the Multiage Classroom by Anne A. Bingham:
“The Canadian study includes a review of research literature and also questionnaires to teachers and administrators across Canada. Its summary of research states: “Do children get as good an education in a multi-grade classroom as they do in a single-grade one? The answer is ‘yes’. The data bear out the findings of research about the many positive aspects of teaching and learning in a multi-grade class.” In fact, it is more than “as good” in the realm of psychosocial development, where “researchers generally agree that students in multi-grade classes tended to be higher or better than those in single-grade classes in the following affective areas: study habits, social interaction, self-motivation, co-operation, and attitudes toward school.” Studies of academic achievement showed that children from multigrade classes perform just as well or better on achievement tests than those from a single-grade setting.” (p.9)
What does/can Learning Look Like in a Multi-age Classroom?
- Send in a photo of your classroom (a task, centre, or corner) that visually defines what a multi-age classroom means to you?
Peek into a Typical Day in one Early Years Multi-age Classroom
|DAYS 1, 3, 5 Teacher: Mrs. Klenk||DAYS 2, 4, 6 Teacher: Ms Weaver|
|8:30 Daily Edit / Word Families||8:30 Journal|
|9:00 Reader’s Workshop||9:00 Writer’s Workshop|
|10:00 Recess||10:00 Recess|
|10:15 Music / Gym||10:15 Music / Gym|
|12:15 Math Workshop||12:15 Math Workshop|
|1:15 Theme / Inquiry Centres||1:15 Theme / Inquiry Centres|
|1:45 Recess||1:45 Recess|
|2:00 Theme / Inquiry Centres||2:00 Theme / Inquiry Centres|
|2:30 Independent Reading / Community Building||2:30 Printing & Handwriting / Community Building|
|3:00 Dismissal||3:00 Dismissal|