learn and grow based on where there abilities and passions lie, rather than by the scope and sequence of
benchmarks determined by their date of birth.
Academic advantages of Multi-Age grouping have been found to be very positive for both ends of
the achievement spectrum; gifted or high-achieving students and lower-achieving students, particularly
benefit from the Multi-Age structure. Indeed, age-segregated classrooms are particularly difficult for
children whose development differs from the norm (Cohen, 1990). In thinking about a typical Bell Curve,
there are outliers below grade level, outliers above grade level, and many in between. In a typical
classroom, those outliers on either end are likely to continue that way throughout their entire academic
career. However, in a MAC those students at the high end of the Bell Curve are met with like ability peers
as they work with students two or more years older, and students on the other end have the ability to be
leaders and role models as they teach, collaborate, and share their learning with younger students.
In a Multi-Age Classroom children of at least a 2-year age span and diverse ability levels are grouped in a
single classroom and are encouraged to share experiences involving intellectual, academic, and social
skills. Consistency over time in relationships among teachers, children, and parents is viewed as one of
the most significant strengths of the mixed-age approach because it encourages greater depth in
children’s social, academic, and intellectual development. The concept of the classroom as a "family" is
encouraged, leading to expansion of the roles of nurturing and commitment on the part of both students
and teacher (Veenman, 1995). Thus, it is no surprise that social-emotional benefits of Multi-Age Classroom
are consistently evident in research.
As students in a Multi-Age Classroom remain with the same teacher over the course of several years,
teachers are better able to gain a deep understanding of each child’s interests and abilities. This also
allows the Multi-Age teacher to connect with parents and families and deepen this relationship over time.
As such, parents of children in MAC report a more secure teacher-student and teacher-parent relationship
(Veenman, 1995). These relationships are at the core of what facilitates a strong learning community.
However, the learning community itself plays a major role in the Multi-Age approach. As children routinely
interact with, model for, learn from, and collaborate with peers with a wide range of abilities and interests,
they become more deeply rooted in the family-like culture of a Multi-Age learning community. Research
has found that behavioral issues occur less frequently through the creation of environments that support
respectful relationships among students and teachers. Time is spent building classroom community and
structures are created within so children can support and help each other (Stuart, 2006). Similarly,
research suggests that children experience greater social isolation in same-age than in mixed-age
classrooms. When paired with younger peers, withdrawn children have been shown to display more pro-social behaviors, such as helping, sharing, cooperating, and showing care and concern. This is not the case
when they are paired with same-age peers. Working with younger students helps build their confidence
and leads to greater acceptance by peers of all age levels (Stuart, 2006).
Due to a wide range of development and ability in many different areas, schools with Multi-Age
Classrooms have also reported less competition, which usually takes place primarily between equals. This
situation lays the groundwork for better conditions for cooperative learning to occur (Ford, 1977). These
conditions also allow students in Multi-Age Classrooms to demonstrate more positive attitudes toward
school, greater leadershipskills, greater self-esteem, and increased pro-social and fewer aggressive
behaviors, compared to peers in traditionalgraded classrooms (McClellan & Kinsey, 1999;