As in our other programs, a multi-age classroom of grades 1, 2, and 3 at the lower elementary level provides children the experience of being with a community of learners of different ages and abilities. Children ages 6-9 are in their second plane of development: they have a deep need for order and rules for how their classroom community operates. With a mixed age of children, managing and communicating the classroom expectations happens organically from child to child, with teacher support provided to manage disputes, if needed. The younger students benefit from observing how the older students manage their workload throughout the day and week and solve social problems that may arise.
The teachers know they can use the relationships between the younger and older students as a motivator for children; it’s not uncommon to hear younger students voice their excitement about learning a certain subject because they have seen the passion of the older children. The oldest students, who have been in the classroom for three years, take pride in their responsibilities as role models and leaders, and their three-year experience in lower elementary blossoms as they independently pursue research projects and present to their classmates.