Helping Children with
It has been said that multiage classrooms have fewer behavior
problems than more traditionally structured single-grade classrooms.
I tend to agree with this. I believe that several factors come
First, students are placed with the same teacher and in the
same program for multiple years. This means that both student
and teacher relationships can grow over time, a greater degree
of trust can build, and a stronger bond develops between student
and teacher. This also holds true for the relationship between
the students' parents and the teacher.
Second, since the teacher knows that each student will most
likely stay with him or her for multiple years, there is a greater
likelihood that the teacher will put more effort into each child's
growth. After all, if "Johnny" or "Jane"
have frequent behavior difficulties, there is no passing them
on to the next teacher at the end of the year.
Third, there is a natural diversity that is recognized by
the students in a multiage classroom. It becomes the norm within
the children's social setting that differences in ability are
expected and that everyone works as a sort of family or team,
helping each other master various learning activities. This manifests
itself in the natural creation of a more nurturing atmosphere.
Where a single age span is a part of the class structure, students
tend to be more competitive, putting a great deal of peer pressure
on one another to fit a perceived age-level norm. This in turn
tends to foster behavior that is labeled as "bickering"
and can greatly affect classroom climate.
Fourth, returning students have expectations about how the
class operates and what the class structure holds for them, they
have little of the anxiety that is felt by others who transition
between teachers each year. With little anxiety and with at least
one year's experience, these children continue to grow, building
on their classroom experiences rather than starting over each
Fifth, since the older children have experienced the classroom
before and have settled into the classroom environment for a
relatively long period of time, they provide a "settling"
influence on the younger students. The older students are expected
to behave as positive role models to the younger students and
to a great degree they assume this responsibility with enthusiasm.
The younger students follow the lead of these role models, behaving
This is not to say that children in multiage classrooms won't
ever misbehave, they will, testing limits is part of growing
up and learning socially appropriate behavior. What I have observed
however, is that, all things being equal, the number of times
students misbehave and the degree to which they do so is much
less in a multiage classroom when compared to a single grade
A couple of tools I use in my classroom are the Problem Solving
Form and the Complaint form. Descriptions and examples of both
are linked below.
In addition, I support students in their efforts to develop
or maintain independent learning behaviors. A description of
my Classroom Leadership program is linked below.