Oftentimes, schools will implement split-grade classes as a way of accommodating small class sizes. Many parents are apprehensive about a child being placed in a split-grade class, as the parents are worried that the child may not be challenged if he is an older student, or may be left behind as a younger student. However, enrolling your child in a split-grade class can have different benefits for both the older and the younger students.
Being the younger student in a split-grade class can be a very enriching and challenging experience. Students are exposed to older students, who are often tasked to assist and mentor. The students are often working slightly above the grade-level which will better prepare the students for the following year, and give the children a step-up amongst future peers. The children are also, oftentimes, included in field trips, traditionally taken by older students, which is an exciting and rare opportunity.
Because of standards in the curriculum, most split-grade classes teach at the level of the older students. This means, that the students are not missing out on anything that other students on the same grade level are learning. Being the oldest in the class, provides these students with the opportunity to be at the top of the class, which can have very positive effects on self-esteem. These students are also given the opportunity to teach the younger students, which can improve the student's own educational experience.
Split-grade classes benefit both student levels in different ways. Similar to the social dynamics seen in families, younger children pick up on more developed social skills and knowledge from the older students. Older students assert responsibility over the younger students. Diversifying students, in age, also encourages tolerance and acceptance among peers.
Kindergarten/First Grade Example
One of the most common split level classes, is a kindergarten and 1st grade split. This is one of the most beneficial split-grade classes for the students because the kindergartners are able to learn how the classroom works, from students that have been there for a year. The kindergartners, usually, leave mid-way though the day, meaning smaller class sizes which allow the first graders more one-on-one time with the teachers. The last half of the day is when the first-graders are taught at a higher level.
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