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What is a multi-grade school?

A multi-grade school is a school that has more than one grade under one teacher.  For instance, grades 1-2, 3-5, and 6-8 may be in three classrooms instead of each room having one grade.  St. John is a multi-grade school.

What are the benefits of a multi-grade school?

Multi-grade schools come with many benefits:

Family atmosphere-- The smaller setting means that the entire school often feels like one big family, with teachers that know every student, students that play with a variety of ages, everyone looking out for each other, and close relationships that last for years.

Learning by leading-- Students who are in the older years for their classroom grouping learn in part by leading and helping the younger ones.  

Learning by following-- Students who are in the younger years for their classroom groupings learn in part by observing the older students go through the classwork before they have to learn it themselves. 

Experiencing school as we experience life-- Out in the 'real' world, we do not interact with only one age group and only one type of project at a time.  We have people of all ages doing a variety of things around us; multi-grade schools mimic real work sites and life experiences.

More individualization-- Teachers are used to meeting several different age and ability levels, allowing them to shift focus for your child's individual needs more easily.

Are there disadvantages?  Why don't more schools take this route?

Studies have backed up the advantages of multi-grade schools, looping (keeping the same teacher for multiple years), and family grouping (similar to multi-grade groups).  Most schools stick with the single grade classrooms because it is easier on the administration to group grades together and easier on the teachers to only have to teach one grade over and over.  Much of the disadvantage of multi-grade schools fall on the teachers who have to plan several levels of lessons and practice good class management.  Teaching in a multi-grade classroom takes dedication, but the rewards of seeing their students excel offsets the extra time spent in setting up their classes.  We are proud of our experienced teachers, their devotion to their students, and their enthusiasm for helping their classes to succeed.

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