In grades 1 through 8 we group students in multi-age classrooms and limit class sizes to twenty students. This allows teachers to build stronger relationships with individual students and differentiate instruction accordingly. Multi-age education involves a belief that all children can learn but learn at different rates. Multi-age classrooms have motivating activities with attention to learning styles, multiple intelligences, and interests. The teacher provides individualized support so student motivation and learning is accelerated. The multi-age approach is child-centered, not curriculum-centered. With flexible options for grouping afforded by the multi-age model, children participate in instruction that focuses on individual needs rather than prescribed curriculum. Because learning tasks in multi-age class are based on developmental levels, children make continuous progress and thereby become more successful.
Multi-age classrooms have been found to improve student achievement as teachers move children along a continuum of progress over several years (Stone, 1996). In a review of 64 studies, Pavan (1992) found that students in multi-age classes performed better than their peers on measures of academic achievement, were more likely than their peers to have positive self-concepts and high self-esteem, and exhibited positive attitudes toward school that increased the longer they were in a multi-age setting.