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Readiness and Placement of Kindergarten Children (page 3)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Mixed-Age/Multiage Grouping

Mixed-age grouping provides another approach to meeting the individual and collective needs of children. In a multiage group, there is a diversity of abilities, at least a two-year span in children’s ages, and the same teacher. The context of multiage groups provides a number of benefits and functions:

  • Provides materials and activities for a wider range of children’s abilities
  • Creates a feeling of community and belonging; most mixed-age groups have a feeling of family because children spend at least two years in the group
  • Supports children’s social development by providing a broader range of children to associate with; children have more and less socially and academically advanced peers to interact with; older children act as teachers, tutors, and mentors; younger children are able to model the academic and social skills of their older class members
  • Provides sustained and close relationships among children and teachers; teachers encourage and support cross-age academic and social interactions
  • Supports the scaffolding of learning
  • Provides for a continuous progression of learning

Looping

Looping occurs when a teacher spends two or more years with the same group of same-age children. In other words, a teacher involved in looping would begin teaching a group in kindergarten and would then teach the same group as first graders and perhaps as second graders. Another teacher might do the same with second, third, and fourth graders. The advantages of looping include the following:

  • Provides the freedom to expand the curriculum vertically and horizontally over a two-year period
  • Gives the teacher the opportunity to monitor a child’s progress more closely over a two-year period
  • Fosters a family-like atmosphere in the classroom
  • Allows teachers to get into the curriculum earlier in the school year because the children know what is expected of them
  • Allows for individualized instruction because teachers are more familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of each child
  • Provides children with stability
  • Grants teachers an opportunity to stay fresh and grow professionally by changing their grade-level assignments every year (Bellis, 1999)

Retention

Along with the benefits of early education and universal kindergarten come political issues as well. One of these is the issue of retention. Children who are retained, instead of participating in kindergarten graduation ceremonies with their classmates, are destined to spend another year in kindergarten. Many of these children are retained, or failed, because teachers judge them to be immature, or they fail to measure up to the district’s or teacher’s standards for promotion to first grade. Children are usually retained in the elementary years because of low academic achievement or low IQ, or both.

But do children do better the second time around? Despite our intuitive feelings that children who are retained will do better, research evidence is unequivocally contrary to that notion: children do not do better the second time around. In addition, parents report that retained children have a more pessimistic attitude toward school, with a resulting negative impact on their social-emotional development (Mantzicopoulos & Morrison, 1992).

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