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Combined Grades

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Last updated on Wednesday, July 08, 2015.

Your child is learning in a combined grade classroom. This brochure is designed to help you understand how this type of classroom works and answer questions you may have.

Schools group students from two grades in one classroom for a variety of reasons that include, balancing class size across the school and to meet student learning needs. Combined grade classes are not new—they have always been a common part of the school experience.

Teachers are highly trained to balance individual learning needs

Walk into any classroom, and you will find children at various stages of social, physical and intellectual development. No two children are exactly the same, even if they’re the same age. Each child has unique learning needs—strengths and areas that need improvement. Learning styles and preferences are unique to each student. That’s true of same-grade classrooms, just like combined grade groups.

Teachers are highly trained to adjust the learning program in the classroom to the needs of each student’s individual learning needs. In combined grade classes, teachers use these same strategies to teach the curriculum for both grades.

Teachers use a variety of strategies to balance the needs of both grades

Students in a combined grade class follow expectations for their specific grade. Just as in same-grade classes, teachers in combined grades use a wide range of teaching strategies to make sure they cover all of the curriculum expectations. Children in combined grade classes will spend time learning as a whole class, in small groups and individually. Sometimes they will be grouped based on a specific task and other times the teacher will group them based on their learning needs.

Studies show that students in combined grade classes learn as well as other students

You may be concerned about how well your child will learn in a combined grade class. Years of research show that students in combined grades do just as well academically as students in single-grade classes. In fact, some students actually do better in language and reading.

You may also wonder about the emotional impact on your child—will your child receive the same amount of individual attention from the teacher in a combined grade as in a single-grade class. It’s important to understand that the number of students in the class, not the grade structure, determines the amount of time the teacher has to spend with each individual student.

Students in combined classes often do better emotionally and socially. Combined grade classes have been found to foster greater independence, better social skills and increased motivation to learn.

Help your child succeed in a combined grade class

You’re important to your child’s success—in a combined grade, the same as a same-grade class. The more you know about your child’s education, the more you will be able to help your child learn and succeed.

Here are some ways you can support your child’s learning.

  • Become familiar with the curriculum for your child’s grade. You can find it on the Ministry of Education website at www.edu.gov.on.ca.
  • Read information from your child’s teacher and school. Ask your child to tell you about schoolwork that is brought home. Talk with your child about her school experience.
  • Communicate with your child’s teacher about his individual learning needs. If you have questions, talk to the teacher about the strategies that are being used to cover the combined grade curriculum.
  • Connect with the school. Attend parent information nights and other school events. Volunteer at the school if you have the time. Attend a school council meeting.
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