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Multi-age and the older child

28 July 1993


This paper focuses on the experiences of the older child in the multi-age setting. With its roots in the one room schoolhouse, multi-age is coming back, based on efforts to make our schools more child-centered . This research is based on the concept of developmentally appropriate practice and on multi-age as one avenue to achieving developmentally appropriate learning.

Teachers and parents are asking questions relating to many aspects of multi-age. Parents, secure that their younger child will indeed learn from the older child, are not so sure that the older child will benefit. The purpose of this research was to study questions related to that older child . How does the multi-age organization affect their attitudes towards self and school? How might these students react in leadership situations? What will happen .to academic performance in reading and math? Is this a viable structure for these children?

This project is a case study of two children, both second graders in a first and second grade multi-age class. Their experiences and achievements during one school year are chronicled and analyzed. Multi-age was found to be a positive alternative structure that offers the older child opportunities that encourage leadership, feelings of competence, and security. The older student was also found to make academic gains at least on par with same age peers.


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