The Discovery Program's Multi-Age Classroom approach provides the flexibility to meet the
individual needs of all students. There are three combination classrooms (kindergarten through
first grade, second through third grade, and fourth through sixth grade). This arrangement allows
for developmentally appropriate grouping. Students have the opportunity to progress at their
own rates within the different classes. When appropriate, they can also move between
classrooms for remedial or enrichment activities (Statler, Larry, 1994).
Partial mission statement: We are a multiage school by choice, as we believe: All students are
competent and capable learners. Our jobis to ensure that we provide students with
appropriate learning experiences which allow them to move onto the next challenge, and
that multiage grouping promotes cognitive and social growth [Seven Hills SS: Australia].
Pine Community School purposefully provides Multi-Age learning groups. We believe learning is
socially constructed, enhanced by access to peers with differing skills, strengths and ability levels.
Therefore, our curriculum is currently sequenced according to developmental needs of the
student. Learning groups are fluid and dynamic. The group’s membership changes, as the
students’ needs change. All students are encouraged to work with students in other groups to
provide peer support and opportunities for developing positive relationships within the school
[Pine Community School: Arana Hills, Australia].
A Multi-Age Classroom is not simply a group of different aged students placed in the same
classroom. Instead it is a well-organized and thoroughly thought out program designed to take
advantage of the natural diversity created [Port Williams Elementary: Annapolis Valley Regional
A Multi-Age Classroom offers many opportunities for students to develop skills intellectually,
socially, and emotionally. Students work in a collaborative environment, paralleling the
workplace. Students design and produce projects that are authentic assessments of a theme - or
problem-based curriculum. Students collaborate on these projects much as team in an office
assemble a presentation. Social interaction is imperative within these teams. Practice within the
educational setting prepares students for the contemporary work force. A Multi-Age Classroom
offers all students a chance to assume leadership roles in the areas in which they excel, regardless
of age [Natural Science Academy: St. Paul Park, Minnesota, USA].
Thinking about the world we live in now, and the world we envision for the future- what can we do to
best prepare our students? I believe few would answer this question by saying we should utilize an
industrial model of education. The “Cells & Bells” model of grouping students together based on their
“date of manufacture” to ensure maximum efficiency is no longer relevant for the complex, dynamic, and
ever-changing world that we live in today. As one Multi-Age school states, “It [the learning in Multi-Age
Classrooms] cannot be replicated unless you buy into the philosophy that education should mirror society
rather than prepare students for it” (Briggs, 2003). Which begs the question, does our current structure
prepare students for a dynamic future, or an industrial line? Rethinking the way we group students may
be the first step in creating a model of education based on creativity and collaboration to prepare today’s
learners for the future.