Multiage in Atlantic Canada
It is fairly common practice in schools in Atlantic Canada to combine age groups to form classes. Some schools have done this for administrative necessity, when student enrollment reveals an imbalance in age groups.
Other schools and individual teachers have deliberately formed mixed-age classes to enhance a developmental educational ideology. Although the purpose for forming the mixed-age class usually determines the pedagogy used by the teacher and the level of support within the school community, there has been growing awareness and interest across the region in transforming mixed-age classes with a multiage approach.
The purpose of this page is to facilitate networking among educators and school communities interested in multiage education.
It is organized in two sections:
1. Advocates of Multiage in Atlantic Canada
2. Multiage Schools and Classrooms in Atlantic Canada
It is hoped that this multiage community will provide support through collaboration so that multiage programs can continue to flourish and adapt to current educational views and conditions.
Advocates for Multiage Education
in Atlantic Canada
This page is an open invitation to people who support multiage education in educational discussions. They have developed a very good understanding of the ideology, can recommend classroom practices that are appropriate for teaching multiage classes, and can offer advice about multiage implementation. If you would like to be included as an advocate, please email me.
Marion is a strong advocate for multiage education in Nova Scotia. She believes that authentic multiage classes create more effective learner-centered environments than can be achieved in single grade structures.
Dennis is a professor of education at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL. His research and development interests focus primarily on rural education, small schools and multi-grade and multiage education. He believes that an authentic approach to multiage education can make a virtue of the necessity of having to combine classrooms in small rural schools. He also believes that all schools regardless of their size or location would make education more humane and responsive to children if they adapted a multiage approach to teaching and learning. Dennis has developed and currently teaches courses in multiage education at the undergraduate and graduate level.
[In the photo Dennis is on the right]
Phone: (H) 787-2731(W) 625-7135
Box 41 Judique, NS, Canada
"I have always been a strong supporter of multiage grouping. This support stems from the belief that when you have a mixture of ages you put an emphasis on individuals and take the emphasis off comparisons. Furthermore, multiage grouping helps teachers implement developmentally appropriate practice by matching the curriculum to each child’s developmental and individual interests and needs. As a classroom teacher, I preferred this configuration for all of the above reasons, and for many more. Multiage grouping always seemed a more natural way to educate children, and the particular years that I taught in this way are some of my most memorable."
Retired from South Shore Regional School Board
Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Canada
Yvonne coordinates programs and student services at the elementary level for the South Shore Regional School Board. She has experienced teaching multiage during her teaching career and shares the belief that the very best learning takes place when people work with others of different strengths, needs, abilities, talents and ages. She understands that while the teacher’s role is pivotal, it is the social nature of the multi-age classroom that can have the greatest impact. . She knows that classrooms need to replicate life, if learning is to take place.
While observing multi-age classrooms on a recent visit to New Zealand, an interesting analogy emerged. She realized that the teachers in these classrooms were very much like orchestra conductors, providing the leadership for the members with an understanding that while all members know that the very best music is made when they play together in perfect harmony. This is no easy task for the conductor who recognizes that the members bring varying levels of talent, motivation, experience and age. So how does the harmony happen? It happens when all members are provided with sheet music that matches their experience and ability, with the most seasoned members playing the most difficult parts. The less experienced musicians look to them as mentors and aspire to be like them. With this strong role model of confident experienced members, all members strive to learn more, and perfect their playing to the level of their mentors. As the musicians pass through the learning continuum, their parts become more challenging. Within an orchestra, like a multiage classroom, there is not merely an acceptance but there is an expectation of difference. An atmosphere of nurturing and not competition exists. This is how musical harmony and learning in multi-age settings occurs.
Karen’s teacher training in England (over 20 years ago) focused on child-centered education and the development of the independent learner. Her teaching experience in Southern England utilized thematic curriculum planning and differentiating learning outcomes depending on the needs of each student.
In 2000, she taught a multiage class (ages 4-7) in a small rural school in Devon. She structured the classroom environment where the children worked cooperatively, learning through play and experiential activities. She became one of four “Lead Teachers” selected to mentor other teachers throughout Devon in organizing similar classroom environments.
In July 2006, Karen moved with her husband, 2 children (and 1 dog) to Nova Scotia – drawn to the beautiful scenery and friendly residents of the South Shore. A year later, she joined the staff of Riverport Elementary as they began their transition to a 3-level multiage school. She teaches the intermediate multiage class of 7-9 year olds (grades 2-4). Adapting her philosophy and experience in multiage teaching in another culture to benefit the students at Riverport & District Elementary School, Karen has been an asset to the staff and community.
Multiage Classroom Teacher
Port Williams Elementary
Annapolis Valley Regional School Board
Nova Scotia 1-902-542-6074
Wendy has taught multiage classes of 7&8 year olds at Port Williams Elementary for 18 years. Her comfort level and commitment for teaching a multiage approach has grown over the years.
“Every year when the job assignments come out I worry that I might not get a multiage class. I believe in the many positive effects of a multiage setting for the students and for me as a teacher.“
Wendy weaves a passion for art into curriculum planning for her students. She believes that art is a very useful tool in many subjects, if not all subjects.
" Art is a fundamental part of communication between people, about people and for people. The act of doing, looking at, learning about and being around art has a definite effect on everyone. All students in my class including those with low self-esteem and/or low academic ability have changed their outlook incredibly within a few months due to the comfort level and success they feel in their creative expression in art making. This positive attitude starts to then move into other subjects as their self-esteem and confidence grow."
Multiage Schools and Classrooms
The following schools offer multiage education in Atlantic Canada. They are organized by province and school board. This list creates a network of schools and programs interested in multiage implementation, and can facilitate collaboration with each other. If you would like to add your program or school to this list, please contact me and include the following:
- the name of your program or school
- your location and your school board
- the URL of your website or email contact information
Annapolis Valley Regional School Board
Port Williams Elementary School
- Started a multiage program in 1973. (see Beginning Multiage)
- Multiage classes at early, intermediate levels
Chignecto-Central Regional School Board
Wentworth Consolidated Elementary School
- Multiage classes P-6
- Multiage for 30+ years
South Shore Regional School Board
Greenfield Elementary School
- Early elementary multiage class
- Senior elementary multiage class
King's View Academy (grades 7-12)
- employs GoldlakeSM methodology (www.goldlake.org)
- teachers work one-on-one or small groups
- students progress at own speed
The South Shore Waldorf School & Kindergarten
- Parent-tot Program
- Grades 1-3
- Grades 4-6
Harbourview Montessori School
- authentic Montessori environment for children between the ages of 3 and 13
- grouped according to developmental planes rather than ages and grades
- all classes are 3-year multi-age span.
“We believe that having multi-age classes allows children to develop a strong sense of community, an internal sense of generosity and empathy as well as a strong work ethic. Visit our website to find out how our multi-age learning environments support natural and meaningful learning.”
Halifax Independent School
“We are a diverse community of enthusiastic educators, students and their families striving for academic excellence. Children learn in a co-operative and respectful environment through theme-based studies in multi-age classrooms.”
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR