Thoughts on Education: Casa (3 – 6 years of age) – The Advantage of 3 Year Age Classes
In the OMS Casa program, we incorporate mixed-age classes in which students who are three, four and five years old come together in a supportive and eager learning community. This assists individual students to experience rewarding and enjoyable learning as they acquire knowledge and skills from each other. Just as children love to copy adults, younger students in mixed-age classes observe what their older classmates are doing and become inspired to emulate them. At the same time, older students are enthusiastic about showing younger students how to do a task or understand something new. The older student develops and refines his/her knowledge through this process of sharing. Older students also become more independent and responsible, as they rise to these leadership opportunities and strive to model proper behaviour as part of teaching a classmate. The mixed-age classrooms work to ensure that each child’s learning opportunities are limitless. Because they are unique individuals with varied interests, children develop different skills and knowledge at different rates and in different orders.
Through their knowledge of each individual student, OMS teachers monitor and keep records of each child’s development of skills and knowledge across the curriculum to ensure progress is comprehensive. The teachers leverage a child’s interests and sharing between children to encourage movement from one level of complexity to another. This means that a child can progress through the curriculum based on interests and skills and not merely due to his/her age. In a school where we expect each student to be a great citizen and make many positive differences in the world, the mixed age classes are highly beneficial. In our mixed-age classes, students are guided by their teachers to treat each other with respect, regardless of age or ability. Young and older students learn to interact positively and help one another. The classroom really does become a thriving community where the Mission and Vision of OMS are practised on a daily basis.