The Multiage Classroom

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