Grand Rapids Christian Elementary School
Multi-age Classrooms: Learning in Community
Each student learns and develops at his or her own individual rate. Children learn best when they can learn at their own speed. Education experts tell us that age is a poor predictor of a child’s developmental stage. Some students are already reading at age 4 or 5 while others take much longer to distinguish letters and words. Yet those same “slow readers” may be able to master mathematical equations much quicker than their peers. Multi-age classrooms, paired with Evergreen’s educational concepts, allow for flexibility. Multi-age classrooms accommodate the developmental continuum of all students—from remedial to advanced.
In a multi-age classroom, age distinctions are greatly reduced. At Evergreen, students are grouped into four levels, which generally correspond to developmental stages: Multi-age pre-school consists of 3, 4 and young 5 year olds; Team 1 comprises students traditionally in kindergarten and grade 1; Team 2 includes students in grades 2 and 3; and Team 3 is made up of students in grades 4 and 5.
In a multi-age classroom the “older” students model learning, appropriate behavior and can explain how their team works to younger or new classmates. The “olders” are not the only ones leading. Younger students’ learning can be challenged or enhanced by learning with older students. All students are able to learn from each other--building a sense of community and teamwork. The skills children develop when they learn how to work together stay with them for a lifetime.
Evergreen extends the multi-age concept throughout the school with Team Time. Students from pre-school through Team 3 are divided into Team Time groups. Each group is paired with a teacher. Team Time groups meet once a week to study our school’s theme. Team Times usually begins with all of the students meeting together and then breaking into their smaller groups. Team Time activities include research, projects, experiments, movies, field trips and much more. It is a wonderful interaction of all ages; it is community.
Our weekly worship times are also multi-age. Our students collaborate with teachers to plan and lead our worship. Twice a month we have prayer circles where the children meet with their Team Time groups to sing, pray and study Scripture together.