Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Mostly the concern I hear is about ensuring they are learning at the level they should be. Will the upper class make kids in the lower class feel like they are behind? Will the upper class kids end up behind single grade classes because they are exposed to the lower grades lessons? For some it was more social - would the wide age range isolate them socially?
In my school experience I spent a few years in split classes when I was in British and Spanish schools, for me it was a good experience so when my daughter was put in a split 1/2 class last year for 1st grade in her new school I was not terribly phased. She was pretty nervous - but it was about being in a new school with no friends, not about the class, probably in part because I wasn't.
While she made friends on day one and settled in no problem I'm not going to tell you that that year didn't have it's bumps in the road, that would be a lie. For my daughter the challenge of a split class manifested itself with reading. Half way into the year 'everyone' could read better according to her and we had many a teary night sobbing that she had not advanced to the next level of reading books just like her friends. Yes, some of those friends were in grade 1 like my daughter but most of those friends were in grade 2. I understood that they would naturally read better but she had trouble understanding that she wasn't behind. And yes, I a bit worried too, but before we knew it she found her reading groove and was off to the races.
When it came to maths and science being in a split class meant that we all came to realize she was pretty good at those subjects and was happy explore 2nd grade work as much as she enjoyed doing her 1st grade lessons.
Writing on the other hand was more challenging for her, although it wasn't something that upset her like reading did, it was something that her teacher was concerned about. As we came into spring she was not writing at the level she should be and her teach brought it to my attention. Together we figured it out, my daughter had a while elephant - she had so much to say that she couldn't decide what was the best thing to write down (sounds like her mother!) and by the time she decided time was up. From then on her teacher spent time teaching her skills to help her focus her thoughts and not focus on the spelling so much.
When her teacher later approached me to know what my preferences for my daughters next year would be I didn't hesitate, "I'd like her to stay with you", I said. for me it was a no brainer - here was a teacher my daughter adored who understood not only where my daughter felt challenged but also already knew how to help her and knew her strengths. No time would be wasted in grade 2 with a new teacher who would have to get to know her and her issue with writing and I knew that being in the upper grade of her split class the next year would give her comfort and confidence. Her teacher was happy I felt that way - she wanted to keep my kid too.
Today is her 1st day of grade 2. My daughter has spent most of the summer looking forward to seeing her teacher again, so much so she wanted to dress in her teachers favorite colour today. She was a little sad that her grade 2 friends moved on to grade 3 in another class and really sad that her buddy was moving to a non-split grade 2 class, but last night a friend messaged me that her daughter, starting grade 1 in my daughters class was a bit nervous, would my daughter help her feel more comfortable? I asked my daughter and she squealed with joy happy to buddy up.
This morning my daughter was beyond thrilled to start school. She couldn't wait to hug her teacher and help her friend and it's infectious. Her younger brother is now a Senior in his kindergarten class,
'Are you looking forward to starting school?' I asked him this morning.
'Yes", he said. "And I can't wait to help the little juniors this year."
I think it is going to be a good year.
And as much as I'm enjoying my 2 and a half hours to myself this morning I can't wait to pick them up and hear how the day has been.