Learning that includes play, nature, choice, personal meaning and is directed towards children's passions starts in kindergarten and is part of every grade at Running River.
Our classrooms are mixed grades so that learning is optomized and children can be met where they are. Our school is based on a community of learners, and communities are naturally mixed ages! The research states:
- Children have several years to develop, and are able to see themselves as progressive, successful learners.
- Children are viewed as unique individuals. The teacher focuses on teaching each child according to his or her own strengths, unlike in same-grade classrooms that often expect all children to be at the same place at the same time with regard to ability.
- Children learn at their own rate, with no fear of retention. In same-grade classrooms, children are retained if they do not master content by the end of the year. In mixed-age classrooms, children have more time to master content, and this removes their fear of being retained in school.
- Children develop a sense of family with their classmates. They become a "family of learners" who support and care for each other.
- Older children have the opportunity to serve as mentors and to take leadership roles.
- Children are more likely to cooperate than compete. The spirit of cooperation and caring makes it possible for children to help each other as individuals, not see each other as competitors.
- Older children model more sophisticated approaches to problem solving, and younger children are able to accomplish tasks they could not do without the assistance of older children. This dynamic increases the older child’s level of independence and competence.
- Children are invited to take charge of their learning, by making choices with project work. This sense of "ownership" and self-direction is the foundation for lifelong learning.