Parents Divided: Are Split Classes Helping Or Hurting Our Kids?

When I first discovered that both of my school-aged children were to be on the older end of split-grade classes for the new school year, I felt divided. 

Not only was I concerned that a split class meant that my children would be receiving half of the attention they needed from their teachers in order to succeed, but I was worried that the placement with their younger peers was a direct reflection of their level of maturity and academic abilities – and my kids shared these concerns.

split classesWhile split classes have been commonplace since the earliest days of schooling, there seems to be a significant increase in the practice in recent years. My oldest, who entered grade 6 this year, has joined her peers in a divide across three split classes. Last year, my middle child experienced a similar setup, with four split classes devised to accommodate his grade 2 classmates.

Many parents have soured to the increased number of split classes, sharing worries of students falling behind, and confusion over why so many splits have been enforced.

Research shows that split classes do not negatively impact academic success, and can positively affect students by enhancing non-cognitive learning skills, increasing leadership skills, and developing organizational and problem-solving skills in kids.

In a story shared by CTV News last year, Richard Messina – principal of Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School at OISE stated, “Many of the issues parents are concerned about – a gap in knowledge or in stimulation – exist in single-cohort classes as well.” He goes on to note that “in every classroom, there is a developmental range in knowledge, in skill development, social-emotional development, and in some areas of the curriculum, the change from one grade to the other is small.” 

While mixing grades may not have a great impact on children academically, some parents worry that being placed with younger kids and separated from their same-aged peers will greatly affect their children on a social level. 

When it comes to split classes, it’s not worth the worry. Studies show that split classes will not impact the academic success of your child, and the divide often means more balanced classrooms. And when it comes to stabilizing your child’s social life, sometimes a little distance from their favourite friends can be favourable. 

While it may not always be the ideal setup, parents need to support the decision, not stand divided.

This story originally appeared in the January|February 2019 issue of WestCoast Families magazine. Read the full story here


For more tips and resources for parents, check out the latest issue of WestCoast Families magazine. Pick up a copy at a location near you, or read the full issue online here.

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