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Brownell Talbot opens multi-age classrooms to meet families' and students' needs

During the first semester of the school year, Brownell Talbot kept pre-schoolers through third-graders learning on campus 100 percent of the time. This led to a waitlist for spots in their lower school. To give more options to families, the facility is finding a creative way to maintain social distancing and allow more kids to learn.
Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 19:08:36-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — An empty classroom is an all-too-familiar sight for educators during this pandemic. But Brownell Talbot is finding a way to pivot — the school wants to serve families and keep class sizes small through a practice called a multi-age classroom.

"It's not very common, one of the reasons it's not very common, it's more challenging for teachers especially in the context of No Child Left Behind where there are really strict standards as to what students need to learn and master by a certain grade level," Assistant Head of School Jason Smith said.

The classroom will be compiled of first through third graders. Smith says - the concept is beneficial.

"The older kids or even the younger kids, if they have an area of strength, they are able to help support and teach kids as well," Smith said.

Smith was a multi-age teacher and shares one of his favorite anecdotes from his experience.

"Seeing some kid struggle with one of the concepts we were teaching, and it was a Grade 3 student and a Grade 5 student, the grade 5 student was really supporting that, and I could see the Grade 3 student struggling, and I went to intervene to help support and the 5th grade student said, I've got it," Smith said.

During weary times - Smith says kids and teachers need to lean on each other to cope. He is convinced this is the way to do it.

"That's what our kids need, that's what our teachers need - that cooperation, collaboration, much more than the competition," Smith said.

The second semester starts on Jan. 12. There are still spots open - to enroll, contact Kim Schinzel at kim.schinzel@brownell.edu.