What is mixed-age learning?
A mixed-age classroom, or a combo class, combines two or more grade levels in one classroom. In a traditional classroom with only one grade level, you will have students of varying skill levels and abilities. Some may be a grade level behind and some a grade level ahead. That means that most classrooms are already mixed-skill classrooms.
We believe that learning with peers of different ages builds social skills, teamwork skills, and communication skills. Mixed-age learning promotes responsibility and independence in the classroom. With two grade levels in one class, the learning community becomes more diverse with students providing opinions and points of view from varying stages of development. Older students have a chance to be role models and mentors for the younger students, and will develop leadership skills. Students quickly realize they can learn from one another, and not just from the teacher. Even if we are covering grade level specific standards in our lesson, older students can review concepts or younger students can preview concepts. Reviewing and previewing are both beneficial for students, and are important study habits.
What does a mixed-age classroom look like at our school?
2 grades = 1 class → At Sunrise School, our mixed-age classroom consists of two grade levels. For our first year (2023-2024 school year), we will have one 1st and 2nd grade class.
Differentiation → Students, regardless of grade level, are divided into flexible groups to work on specific skills. Groupings are constantly changing based on growth and areas of need. Therefore, there is no such thing as a "low group" or a "high group." It's just this group is working on X and this group is working on Y. Students will move to different groups as we work on new skills together. Since students are in groups working on skills, it removes the concept of "below or above grade level." We are just working with students to reach the next step in their zone of proximal development.
Responsibility → In a family, everyone is a different age. However, they share the responsibility of making their home a safe, clean, and usable space. We follow that same concept at Sunrise School. As a classroom family, regardless of our age, we all have a responsibility to take care of the materials and furniture in our classroom, to clean up our learning space, and to respect the people we share this space with.