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Multi-Age Learning

WHAT is it?

In a traditional grade-level setting, students who are all of similar age are grouped together and are expected to follow a curriculum based on their age level, not necessarily their ability level.  In contrast, a multi-age class structure groups students of a variety of ages together in a single classroom community and then divides them according to ability - irrespective of age - for each area of instruction. 

WHY are KYMS classrooms multi-age?

In an age-based setting, students who enter a particular grade below grade level often develop gaps in their learning because the teacher doesn't have the flexibility and / or capability to back up to the point where the child last left off.  Similarly, students who enter above grade level are often not sufficiently challenged to progress because the teacher’s primary responsibility is to cover the grade level curriculum and no more.   A multiage classroom, however, creates a paradigm shift in which a teacher is no longer responsible for covering a fixed single year curriculum and is responsible, instead, for diagnosing where a child is in a given area, setting aspirational goals for where he or she can go, and then implementing a plan to help him or her achieve it.  Research shows that in such environments students show increased self-esteem, more cooperative behavior, better attitudes toward school in general, increased pro-social behavior, enriched personal relationships, increased personal responsibility, and a decline in discipline problems. These affective gains are due in part to the fact that competition is minimized as children progress at their own pace and individual differences are celebrated.  Furthermore, older children in a multi-age classroom are encouraged to embrace their roles as leaders and mentors, and younger children tend to learn classroom expectations and culture far faster from their older peers than they do from adults.  

HOW does it look at KYMS?

  • Students are divided up into two single gender multi-age classes of sixth through eighth grade students.  
  • Teachers at KYMS thoughtfully arrange student groupings across and within grade levels based on student ability levels and areas of strength/challenge/interest. Groupings may vary based on skill, project, or activity.
  • At any given time, students might be working with the teacher one-on-one or in a small group, while other students work independently or in collaborative groups. There are multiple teachers teaching different things and multiple students learning different things at the same time in the same space. 
  • Schedules and routines in the classroom clearly promote clear, predictable instructional patterns, and enhance student responsibility for their own learning. Students know what to work on, when it is due, and how to get help.