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wilxsmith
wilxsmith asks:
Q:

My son got moved to a combo class that isn't challenging him.  What should I do?

My son attended a private school for Kindergarten and is attending public school this year for 1st grade. His skills are at about the end of first grade in math, and he easily reads books on a 3rd or 4th grade level. The school he is in now has a very low enrollment. About 147 total kids in K-8. The school has the highest test scores in the district, very few behavior problems, and the whole community is involved in keeping the school at #1. Too good to be true... you may be right!

Because of such low enrollment, some of the grade levels have to be combined into classes with one teacher. At the beginning of the year, the classes were combined into K-1, 1-2, 2-3 etc. Somehow my son got dumped into the K-1 class. In the first few days (they started on 8/13) he was bringing home his class work and it was not challenging for him at all. I found out the 1st grade students in the K-1 class were actually getting Kindergarten assignments and talking about colors, the alphabet, and so on in class.

I attempted to get him moved into the 1-2 class, but it was "full" (meaning the teacher didn't want to be overwhelmed with her 17th student). The VP and I worked out a plan where he would attend the 2-3 combo class for Language Arts and K-1 for the rest of the day. Well, they just disbanded the 2-3 class. The 2nd graders went into the 1-2 class and the 3rd graders into a new 3-4 class. (you with me so far?) Now my son is back in the K-1 class all day. I was not notified and only found out because of looking at his homework and having him tell me he is no longer in the 2-3 class.

Shouldn't he be attending the 1-2 class at least for Lang Arts? Has anyone been through a similar experience? Should I go back to the VP for another solution? I have a feeling they're going to say they cannot accommodate him. What then?

Any advice, links, feedback is appreciated!
In Topics: Helping my child with school work and home work
> 60 days ago

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Expert

lkauffman
Sep 5, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

It is understandable that you would have concerns about your son's experience as an older student in a combined class. I found very little literature on the topic, thus, it appears that there is not a great deal of research to speak on this issue.

That said, school personnel typically extol the virtues of combined classrooms for both the younger and older students, but it appears that the academic benefit is greatest for the younger students. However, there is some indication that older students benefit from the experience of "teaching" concepts to younger students, mentoring, etc. Indeed, I also found some papers discussing the social-emotional benefits to a combined classroom. It sounds as though there is greater "peace" in a combined classroom, in terms of behavior.

To gather more information, you should consider talking with parents who have had your son's teacher in years past. Ask them about their experiences as a parent of a younger or older student in the class. Perhaps, your son's teacher is quite skilled at balancing the needs of her younger and older students. In that case, your son is in good hands. However, if you remain concerned after talking with other parents, it seems reasonable to approach the school administration again.

For a little more information, see below:

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/combinedClassrooms/combinedClassrooms.pdf

http://www.georgedavison.schools.sd76.ab.ca/About%20George%20Davison/combined_grades.htm

Good luck!

L. Compian, Ph.D.
Counseling Psychologist
Education.com Reference Team

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Additional Answers (4)

jeniw96
jeniw96 writes:
I understand your concern. I'm currently teaching a K 1 combo class. I am in a situation where the district will not pay for extra teachers and classrooms for only straight grade classes. I am not in control on who is in my class (for the most part), but I do know that the 1st grade students were chosen by their K teacher because they are more independent learners than others.

I am however, teaching twice as much curriculum. Therefore, I'm holding each grade responsible for only their work for their particular grade.

I have noticed one thing about my students in the past couple of years. Students are coming with more phonics and decoding skills, but severely lack others skills like being able to infer, line up, listen and follow directions, and respect the teacher.

I hope maybe some of this helped since it's coming from the other point of view.
> 60 days ago

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pkbobo
pkbobo writes:
I just found out two days ago that My son is going to be in K/1 combo class. Last year he was in private school, where he was in K/1 combo as well and he can do everything 1st grader does.

I have no Idea why school put him in that class. we gave report card from school where he got all 'O+' whole year in all subjects.

Is there a way where we can ask teacher or school to move him to regular class?

Any advice from your son would be appreciated as well.
> 60 days ago

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kiatortilla
kiatortilla writes:
I had the same problem this year.  My 2nd grade son was put into a 1-2 combo class.  I did online research and heard the positive "spin" put out there by our school's administration.  But confidentially by all of my educator friends, I got the real story.  It is nothing but a budget issue and yes, your children are getting the short end of the stick.  Teachers are told to tell you about the positives of this system ie: mentoring, self-confidence booster, an entire class of the best behaved kids. But the truth is that it is too much to ask the teachers to teach two separate grades in one class.  And it is too much to ask these kids (who are supposedly "hand-picked" for their "independent learning" skills) to work by themselves while the teacher is teaching a different group of kids.  If your kids are like mine, instead of doing his worksheet independently, he would be distracted by the teacher and what she is doing on the other side of the room.  "Independent learners' is code for "He's pretty much on his own."  I spoke with the principal twice, and when that didn't work, I pulled him out of school altogether and am now homeschooling him myself.  
If this is not an option for you, I have been told by my friends that the quickest way to get results is to call the district, write a letter to the board and contact the superintendent.
> 60 days ago

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HeatherPeterson124
HeatherPete... writes:
It would be best if you can enroll your child in online school. Online learning enables student-centered teaching approaches. Every student has their own way of learning that works best for them. Some learn visually others do better when they "learn by doing."

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