Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Why a multi-age classroom?

The prayer table as set by the children with our new Good Shepherd statue and leaves for Autumn.

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) has three levels. Each consists of a three-year age span. We currently are running the level one Atrium which is for children ages 3-6. Level two is ages 6-9 and level three is ages 9-12. At this time our Atrium is only made up of 3 and 4 year old children due to the number of children we had initially signed up for the program. Next year will should have the full complement of ages. 

Why does this program promote a multi-age classroom and won't the children become bored being in the same environment for three years?

In a multi-aged classroom we have a more authentic community than we would if there were only children of the same age present. In the Atrium each child works at his or her own pace. This means that the children are free to work with materials that are appropriate for their developmental levels. The Catechist takes time to observe the work of the children and to modify the classroom as is needed for their continued growth. In addition, the younger children look up to the older children in a way that far exceeds their admiration for the adult in the classroom. They can envision a time when they too will be 5 and will be able to master the work that the 5 year old is doing. In addition, the older or more experienced children are able to assist the younger children with their lessons or in cleaning up a spill or finding part of a missing work. At all ages the children are provided with opportunities to assist in their growth as individuals - all without the help of the adult!

The three-year cycle provides adequate time for the children to work through all of the lessons and to continue to slowly master the lessons they have been working through. We are given the luxury of time that is not available to a classroom that exists for only one year before the children move on. The children are free to contemplate the Gospel truths of the Nativity during Advent, the Empty Tomb at Easter and the lessons of the Mass and the Parables throughout the year. Every lesson is not given each year to each child. It is over the three years that the Biblical and Liturgical lessons are given, each in their own seasons which correspond to the seasons of the Church. 

As we grow together in the Atrium this our first year, we will continue to see the community of children develop and mature. Over the next few years this cohesiveness will increase as we have returning children who are familiar with the Atrium and it's peacefulness and will help to pass this joy onto the new children entering.