All of our classrooms contain two or three grades. How does a multi-grade classroom work? Picture the classic one-room schoolhouse, and you will have some idea. Until the 20th century, multi-grade classrooms were the norm almost everywhere. They were largely lost in the heyday of school amalgamation, but now they're coming back. Students benefit from the interactions, friendships, and cooperation between younger and older children. Another advantage is that we have more flexibility for students to advance more quickly, or to get remedial help, as needed, without having to go to a separate classroom. Multi-grade classrooms feel different than single-grade classrooms because they naturally encourage a sense of community within the classroom and among the whole school.
One mainstay of the multi-grade classroom is the rotating curriculum. For subjects like social studies, science and religion, there are three different year-long teaching themes. Over a three year period, students will cover all the subject areas in the curriculum. Specific lessons taught to the whole classroom in each year are taken from those central themes. When, for example, the subject is colonial America, second graders will do more advanced work than first graders, but the whole classroom will be working together on that subject.
Some subjects, in which skills are built gradually, do not rotate. Math, reading, and writing are three examples. For these subjects, one grade will be introduced to new concepts while another grade is practicing something they have already learned. Students learn to work independently and cooperatively in small groups - skills that are obviously very useful as they grow up.
- Judi Pafford, PNCS Mom
In junior and senior kindergarten, the curriculum is more flexible than it is in the higher grades. Here, students learn by spending a lot of time in motion, with games, cooking, songs, crafts, and field trips. Along with pre-reading and pre-writing skills, kindergarteners focus on learning how to be in school, follow directions, and work and play with other kids.