Parents' guide to a combined grade classroom
Schools group students from two grades in one classroom to balance class size across the school and to keep the number of students in primary classes (kindergarten to grade 3) at or below 20. 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.
Our 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.
In many areas of the Ontario curriculum, the overall expectations do not change from one grade to the next, but students learn the skill with a greater level of complexity as they progress from grade to grade. In a combined grade 3/4 class, all of the students would spend time reading to improve their comprehension.
Studies show that students in combined grade classes learn just 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.
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. Combined grade classes have been found to foster greater independence, better social skills and increased motivation to learn.
In our experience, parents may be concerned when their child is first placed in a combined grade class, but once they become familiar with the concept, they feel more comfortable, and they're pleased with their child's progress and school experience as the year progresses.
Help your child succeed in a combined grade class
You're important to your child's success. 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 or in your school library.
- 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.
- 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.
Get more information
- Talk to your child’s teacher or principal.
- Visit the Ministry of Education website at www.edu.gov.on.ca.
- Call the Curriculum and Instruction department of Peel District School Board,
905-890-1010 or 1-800-668-1146.