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Why Children Might Benefit From a “Combination” Classroom

Nine advantages of split-grade or blended classrooms.

Many parents are concerned when their child is placed in a combined class (i.e., first and second graders or third and fourth graders together). While the demands on the teacher, and, to some extent, the students, may be greater, here are nine advantages of “combo” classes:

  1. Research has shown there’s no difference in academic achievement between children in split classes versus straight grades.
  2. Split-grade students are less competitive with one another and more cooperative than students in same-grade classrooms.
  3. Children learn at different paces. Blended classes offer a wider range of curricula across two grade levels. Advanced students can be more easily challenged with higher-level material; struggling students can more easily return to earlier material.
  4. Younger children gain self-confidence and maturity by being exposed to older students; older students learn to be positive, mature role models for the younger students. (Most children come from a home environment with siblings of different ages.)
  5. Children are carefully selected for blended classrooms; younger children are more mature and ready to “stretch”; older students have demonstrated a pattern of good behavior and social skills.
  6. Some children will benefit from having the same teacher over two years, as the teacher comes to know the students’ abilities better. This is called “looping.”
  7. Students in blended classrooms tend to take greater personal responsibility for their learning.
  8. There is greater peer-to-peer learning in blended classrooms.
  9. Students develop friendships across grade levels and blended classrooms instill a greater sense of responsibility for one another, and a better sense of community. As one teacher tells her students, “we are like a family who cares for one another.”

Read more about the benefits of blended classes at:

More from Ronald E. Riggio Ph.D.
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