Original article re-published with permission from Oak Meadow School
Within each of the classrooms at Oak Meadow School, the obvious benefits of multi-age classrooms are clearly evident. Older students are mentoring younger students. Younger students are apprenticed to their wiser and more experienced peers. Students learn at their own pace in ways that are designed to keep them challenged at the leading edge of their own growth and advancement. Students collaborate with each other on projects, learning to appreciate the unique talents and perspectives of others, and discovering how collaborative work can produce higher outcomes and more innovative solutions.
This is a normal and integral feature of an Oak Meadow classroom. Yet there’s another positive impact of multi-age classrooms that is often missed. A multi-age classroom creates an environment that significantly lessens the unhealthy and unproductive pressures of competing with others for the highest marks or rank.
Are you surprised to hear this? Consider what traditionally happens in most other schools, public and private. When all of the students in a classroom are in the same grade, doing exactly the same work, taking identical exams, it creates an environment that breeds intense competition, where students are always comparing themselves against the students of their own age. Sadly this far too often contributes to raising children who evaluate and judge themselves on the basis of what others are accomplishing.
In all of our Oak Meadow classrooms, I see the positive impact of multi-age classrooms. Rather than trying to get all of the students to march lock-step together in doing exactly the same curriculum, with clearly defined winners and losers (and most children considered “average”), our teachers are doing something very different. They are paying attention to each individual child. As experts in the curriculum across multiple age levels, our teachers work individually with each child, guiding each student, providing honest and helpful feedback on each child’s progress and growth, affirming each student as a unique learner on their own personalized journey of discovery and mastery.
Oak Meadow School is an independent school inspiring children from 15 months through 8th grade. Oak Meadow School is rooted in the child-centered Montessori philosophy, which fosters academic excellence, personal growth, and cultural awareness while nurturing children’s spirits. A diverse community of life-long learners, we cultivate confident, independent, and compassionate human beings by providing the tools and experiences needed to embark on rich, meaningful journeys as responsible citizens of the world.
2 Old Pickard Lane
Littleton, MA 01460
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