Mixed age classroom

         The perfect dynamic for success...

At Amesbury Country Day School the children are thriving in our mixed age classroom.  They are kind, they are helpful, they are proud, and they are excited about learning!  We have children from 2.9 to 5 years old together in a classroom and the sense of community and desire to learn is beyond measure.  Here’s how it works so beautifully;
The children are looked at as unique individuals and not bunched together to learn one unified lesson based on their age.  Our curriculum is developed so that the children are all learning about the same theme, sharing in circle time together, having group discussions and creating similar art projects, but each child is working with a teacher one-on-one each day on fundamental skills that are appropriate for that child.  We focus with each child on strengthening his/her basic skills and building from there.  No child is feeling pressure to achieve skills that they are not developmentally ready to accomplish, while no child is bored by learning about things that they have mastered long ago.  Everyone is challenged by working on different skills at different times, and they are all feeling a sense of accomplishment in what they’ve achieved for the day.  The younger children see the older ones doing their work, trying their best, and excited about learning and this becomes contagious.  The older kids encourage the little ones, they help them and give them advice… they practice together, they teach each other.  The children are all inspiring in so many ways, and they are all so proud of each other.  There’s a sense of family that is undeniable. 
A unique characteristic of the mixed age classroom is that there is always someone to relate to.  No matter what they are playing with or working on, there is likely another child who shares in that interest.  There is such a wide range of personalities, ages and interests that everyone feels free to be themselves and play with the kids that make them happy.  The children all have individual strengths, and they lean on each other for help in different areas.  They gravitate toward each other’s strengths to learn and grow and there is so much motivation in that for everyone involved.  The children who are helping are proud and encouraged to be a leader, and the children who are learning are inspired to help others.  They each have a strength to share regardless of age and they each have a lot to learn.  It’s a proud moment each day when we hear the kids giving each other genuine compliments about their progress in any particular area of life!
Positive behavior in the classroom is another benefit of our mixed age class.  A lot of the older children are in their second year of school at ACDS.  They already know the rules and how we treat our friends, they know we help and support each other and they’re excited to teach new friends the ropes.  The older kids model positive behavior, problem solving, being kind and trying your best at school and the younger ones strive to be just like them.  The little ones never see anyone throwing tantrums, or being disrespectful, so they follow suit… although everyone is entitled to an off day occasionally.  We take pride in being kind.  These children are amazing to each other, they are a tight group of friends who care very much for each other. 
A lot of the older children at school have been on the young end of the spectrum and feel a strong sense of pride in being the “big kid”.  The older kids frequently reminisce about when they were “little”, and love to talk about how much they’ve learned.  The younger children really make them realize how far they’ve come, and they become very proud of their accomplishments and strive to achieve even more.  There is a natural feel of family in the classroom as the children are often learning from, and teaching children of different ages at home and in the real world.  In our school, we become a family. Staying with the same teachers, friends and families for multiple years strengthens the relationships between parents, children and teachers and builds an amazing sense of community.
The sense of security and independence that these kids build in each other is something that words can’t express.  The children all go to kindergarten well prepared educationally, but they get so much more than that.  The mixed age classroom is teaching children about themselves without being defined by an age.  They learn their strengths and what makes them happy while at the same time learning about communication, patience and the importance of helping others. I truly can’t think of a better way to introduce a child to education… or to the world for that matter!