56 answers

My Child Was Put in a Combo K/1 Class!

Hello Mamas!!!
My daughter starts first grade tomorrow. I just found out that she was put into the class that is half (or maybe somewhere between half and a third) kindergarten and the rest first grade. I believe the kindergartners will be an afternoon class. My husband is angry and I'm trying to keep an open mind, but I'm confused as well. How do they keep these first graders from being bored and challenge them? How do they sort them into classes in the first place? I don't think it's just the youngest kids in this class as my daughter's best friend is a Sept. birthday and my daughter is Oct. What were your experiences with a combo class? What should I watch out for? Is she in it because they think she's slow? Her teacher's recommendation at the end of last year was first grade and we actually thought she was a little ahead of her peers in math and right in the middle in reading... what can we do to help and make sure she stays where she should?
Thanks, Mamas!!!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

We were once in this same situation. My son was in second grade with some first graders. I voiced my concerns to both the teacher and the principal. I decided to ride it out and give it a chance. As far as I can tell, it didn't hold him back at all. By 4th grade he was an entry level college reader! I do think the success of this type of class depends upon the teacher. Meet with her and see what kind of vibe you get. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

At my children's school, all the classes are combo and we love it! There are three classes that are 1-2-3 and my daughter is starting 2nd grade there. There are two classes that are 4-5 and my son will be in 5th grade. There are so many benefits and we haven't seen and big downsides (at their school there are also 2 teachers per classroom and up to 38 kids). Contact me if you want more info.

My daughter was also in this situation a few years ago. 1st and Kinders had totally seperate ciriculum, just a matter of not enought 1st graders for a full class and same for kinders. Each group was given instruction and own class level work. Kinders benefit because if their work is too easy, they can attempt 1st grade level. 1st graders did well if they could work a little more independently than those kids who were struggling with concepts. If she is advanced, she should ok here. If she is advanced beyond 1st grade level, then she may need to move to a 1/2 combo if they have such a class.

More Answers

First and most importantly off, your child is most likely NOT in a remedial, half-way to first grade class.

I am a first grade (sometimes K/1) teacher in Cupertino. The way combo classes work in our district is based on enrollment numbers. We can have 33 children in a kindergarten class, but enrollment numbers often don't end up as 99 children for 3 perfect classes of 33. Instead, sometimes there are 110 children, making 3 classes of 33 and then a partial class of 11 - enter in a combo K/1 class. It doesn't matter if there are exactly 100 first graders for 5 straight classes of 20 children, if there are more kindergarteners to place, they must be placed in a K/1 class.

Now the way children are placed in a combo class is that they are hand selected. They are not randomly assigned. We choose the most independent workers and easy going children to go in combo classes. We choose students who follow directions, stay on task, and get along well with others. These children are helpful and patient. They are academically on par, and sometimes even ahead of where they need to be.

As far as instruction goes, I teach a combo class pretty much the same way I teach a straight first grade. I instruct, do examples, we try some together, then I send them off to work on their own. With a straight class, I would probably need to monitor certain students while they work. But with a combo, since they are independent workers that stay on task, I trust my kids to get to work right away, while I go teach the other group. A child in a combo class is taught the same curriculum as the other children in their grade.

Any good and experienced teacher will differentiate instruction based on their students. (With that said, combos are typically not taught by new teachers.) Challenging students and adjusting activities for students abilities in a combo is no different than in a straight class.

Before you start the year by complaining to the teacher and the principal, give it a shot. Keep an open mind. Maybe you have the best or an experienced teacher. Maybe your daughter will love being the older students in her K/1 class where she gets to be a leader and help her kinder classmates. Maybe she will be happy in her class.

Good luck and I hope your child has a happy year in her class.

4 moms found this helpful

We were once in this same situation. My son was in second grade with some first graders. I voiced my concerns to both the teacher and the principal. I decided to ride it out and give it a chance. As far as I can tell, it didn't hold him back at all. By 4th grade he was an entry level college reader! I do think the success of this type of class depends upon the teacher. Meet with her and see what kind of vibe you get. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Be happy! Kids in combination class are those who can work independently and are NOT discipline issues. Your daughter won't have those children that need extra time from the teacher. It's a compliment that she was chosen (yes, chosen!) for this classroom!

My kids have each been in combination classes and it was definitely a much more peaceful year without horror stories about what Suzy or Joey did today to disrupt the class. They seemed to have more enrichment activities that year and often had more field trips with the other half class as well.

1 mom found this helpful

We had the same experience last year with our first grader. At first we had the same misgivings that you are. However, our fears were quickly put to rest. Instead of being a reflection of our daughter being behind other 1st graders, they picked the older children in the class as kids who were at/or above grade level and very well behaved. The teacher has to create 2 curriculums so the principal didn't want to give her discipline problems or academic issues on top of that. The kids were split up for math, reading and science (through separate recess periods) so our daughter had a 1 :10 ratio for learning instead of the higher 1:20. She also had a huge self confidence boost through mentoring the kindergarten kids. Our only negative was that socially there were less children for her to play with in her class since they had the separate recess periods. I would do it again because it was a GREAT year for her! email if you want more info or to chat.

1 mom found this helpful

A general rule of thumb for combo placement is to choose kids that are working at or above grade level and have minimal discipline issues. Usually they end up being a really nice group of students to work with allowing the teacher to have more instructional focus time. There are lots of ways teachers organize dual curriculums, usually some subjects are taught exclusively to the specific grade level group and others like social studies and science are combined. During the grade level specific times, the other grade level may be out of the room at library, paired up with another class for PE or have extra assistants in the classroom to do a different activity. It really depends but overall, these classes are very successful. I would at least give it a chance. Hope it turns out to be a great year.

1 mom found this helpful

I was in a combo 2/3 grade class when I was young and I think that the teacher who replied is right. They do hand pick the students who are at least up to par and usually advanced for their age. In fact there were times that as the third graders we tried to help the 2nd graders and it made us feel very important and also taught us to help others when we could. I would agree to let her stay because it's a huge compliment for your daughter to have been selected for this special class.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm sure you've gotten some great responses already from moms. With the budget and schools wanting to maximize their class sizes, combo classes are probably on the rise. I'm an elementary school teacher, and when we did our grouping, we placed independent learners in the combo class. I imagine that, at most schools, that's the top priority. I know parents are usually not thrilled to find out their child is in a combo class, but give it a chance. My good friend teaches the combo class and is an outstanding teacher. Before the first day of school, parents were going to the principal and the district to get their child moved. I'm not saying every teacher is a perfect fit for a combo (I don't know how I would do it!), but see how it goes for the first few weeks. I'm sure your daughter's teacher will do everything he or she can to make sure all the kids get the best education and do not miss out.

No, your daughter is not slow because she was put in a k/1 combo. I'm an elementary school teacher, and in my district the students they pick to put in combo classes are usually the kids that are further ahead, and the Ks that will be in there are probably a little further ahead as well. Now you said your daughters bday is in oct. Is she a young 1st grader or an old 1st grader? If she's an older 1st grader I would talk to the school because she is going to be a lot older than the kinders. But don't worry, for the sanity of the teacher they usually put the better behaved, futher ahead kids in the combo classes. I would give it a try and if you have concerns talk with the teacher about it, because I'm sure you're not the only parent who is concerned and I'm sure the teacher will be willing to calm your nerves about it and assure you your child will still get the same education she would in another class. If you have anymore questions or concerns feel free to message me!! Good luck on the first day of school!!

My daughter was also in this situation a few years ago. 1st and Kinders had totally seperate ciriculum, just a matter of not enought 1st graders for a full class and same for kinders. Each group was given instruction and own class level work. Kinders benefit because if their work is too easy, they can attempt 1st grade level. 1st graders did well if they could work a little more independently than those kids who were struggling with concepts. If she is advanced, she should ok here. If she is advanced beyond 1st grade level, then she may need to move to a 1/2 combo if they have such a class.

Hi J.,

Don't worry. Just get to know the teacher and ask how she usually plans her combo class. As a mom and teacher of 20 years (who is unemployed right now in CA) I can understand your questions. Go ahead and ask her politely and I bet you'll get a good response. Sometimes teachers team-teach for specific subjects. Many times a combo class can be a great springboard to new learning, as children see how much they themselves have grown since kinder. They also bond with first graders but enjoy "teaching" their knowledge to little ones in free time which reinforces their confidence and they'll reach for the stars. You can also ask to volunteer.

She may have been placed there because she had good behavior last year and she could be patient while the teacher switches gears between grade levels. The combo could be a good thing depending on how it's done. She may learn more by "teaching" the new kindergarteners how to do things or by working independently. The school may have had to make a combo class because of increasing class sizes and laying off teachers. I taught kindergarten for 7 yrs before becoming a SAHM. I always wanted to do a K/1 class but never got the opportunity. It always depends on what works out best financially for the public school.

Just let the teacher know what you're concerned about. Best wishes!

Hi J., I know the feeling even though it was many years ago. My daughter was put in a combo class a few times. It did upset me each and everytime, however it never bothered my daughter. I was always worried that she wouldn't learn. That was never the case. She is now a college graduate and is actually going back to school so she can get her teaching credentials. She was always the top of the class. I would just stay on top of things and be involved as much as you can. I am sure everything will work out. Good luck

Some of the best classes I ever attended or TA'd in were combo classes. I was one of those who was at the top end of my class--and combo classes were great. It challenged the younger kids, and the older ones were never bored. If you were done, we tended to tutor those younger ones who needed it--it reinforced our core skills, gave us a sense of accomplishment and kept us involved. A true win/win.

My son was in a combo K/1 class last year, however he was in K. I thought it was an odd combination too, but it worked. Honestly, it worked out the best for the 1st graders! The K's, although they were assigned to that teacher, did centers with the other K classes and really only spent a short time in their actual classroom. The benefit to the 1st graders is that they ultimately got more attention from the teacher because of the smaller class size. The class was most likely created because of the numbers game that schools have to play to fit students in classrooms, not that they think your child is slow. In the end, I think you'll be happy!!

First I would talk to the teacher and find out how they chose the 1st graders for this class. Most likely the combo class has nothing to do with your daughters abilities. They may have some accelerated kindergardners that they want to keep challenged by running them with 1st graders. It may also be just a numbers game. If they have 10 extra first graders and 10 extra kindergardners they just hire one teacher to teach each instead of hiring 2 teachers with small classes.

My daughter was in a K/1 class last year and she was totally fine. I used to have mixed feelings about this, but quickly overcame them. The teacher should have a curriculum to follow for each grade. What's great about this mixed set-up is that it gives the older students an opportunity to "help" the younger ones when they need it. This helps build esteem in the older children and they really like feeling like they helped another student out. The younger students tend to look up to the older ones. I think it's a win-win situation.

I have taught K/1 combo classes, and the rule of thumb for the teacher is to teach to the higher grade level.

J.,
I am starting my 21st year of teaching next week & just had to respond. A K/1 combination was my absolute favorite combo to teach. Usually grades are combined because enrollment dictates it. (they dont walk in in groups of 20)I LOVED having a K/1 because the 1st were great role models for behavior. They really taught the Ks 'how to do school' and very quickly too. And in return when the Ks left or in your case all morning the 1st got all that time with me with only half a class.

The ratio is invaluable and we're talking about everyday, not just an isolated time now & then when you have half the class. Usually we dont pick 'younger' or 'slower' kids at all for the upper grade in a combination. The success of this situation so much depends on the parents and teachers attitude about the combo. Only in school do we separate people strictly by the year they were born in. When you think about it a combo class is much more like real life. Good Luck & enjoy the year............ P.

When I was in 3rd grade I was in a combo 3/4 class. It was completely random - nothing to do with the kids levels. They just divide the class in 2 most of the time and the teacher goes back and forth between the groups with the age appropriate material. I remember feeling more personal attention because it was as if the class was half the size. I also had a fantastic teacher - I imagine they would only give the combo class to one of the best teachers to ensure they can handle managing a classroom. I'd try to meet with the teacher as soon as possible and keep an open mind. You can always make them move her if you want - just don't take no for an answer. Good luck!

As a former teacher's aide and classroom volunteer, I can tell you that children are chosen for a mixed grade classroom based on maturity--they can't have distraction issues and must be able to work independently while the teacher is instructing the other grade. I believe your daughter's kindergarten teacher thought that your daughter posssessed these skills more than other children in her kindergarten class. Have your husband read some of the other comments here--this is not a slur on your daughter's capabilities.

J.,

Check with the teacher and school. My youngest don was in a 1st - K combination class as a 1st grader and loved every minute of it. The teacher explained that they handpicked the kids that they thought were 'ahead' so that they could actually mentor and model for the younger ones. He had a great time and I took it as a compliment to him and his abilities. It was a long time ago - he became an Eagle Scout, got his 4-yr degree in Chemistry and is now getting a PhD. I'll brag a little; the 1st-K combination certainly didn't hurt him at all.

Good luck - J.

I'm a elementary school teacher. In my district, kids who are put in combo classes are not necessarily chronologically younger or older, but rather they are placed in combo classes because they are more independent and/or have something to contribute to a multi-aged peer group. Don't worry, if you trust your teacher, he or she will do a good job differentiating curriculum for your child. You also have the right to talk to the teacher about any concerns you have if she/he is not meeting your expectations. Some teachers teach the same curriculum to both levels and then 'switch' the following year (in science or social studies) whereas the more commonly followed practice is to "divide" the class up into two just as if it were two classes under one roof, regarding 'core' curriculum such as math and reading.

Secondly, as a child, I was in a combo class every year (except for my kindergarten year). That's 5 years old combo classes and I LOVED it.

I'm sure your child will do great. Again, don't be afraid to talk to the teacher if you feel uncomfortable or have any apprehensions about the situation or what's being taught. Good luck!

They probably put the more advanced kinders in with your 1st graders, especially since there are more 1st graders. Kids come into kindergarten with a spectrum of abilities so I wouldn't be offended. Many times they put the kids who are well behaved and good workers in the combo classes since it is already hard for the teacher to teach 2 levels. It is most likely due to the major budget cuts schools are facing this year. Good luck!

My daughter, who is now starting 8th grade, has been in 4 split classes. I had concerns at first but found that these splits were always a good experience. In our district I was told that the kids selected for splits are kids who can work well independently and tend to be a bit more of an advanced student. My child really blossomed in these classes, either striving to do more, as she saw the older ones do or proving to be a leader in classes where she was the older student. I would not worry that anyone thinks your child is "slower" than others, it more than likely the opposite is true. Teachers would tend not to want slower learners in a split. Be positive especially with your child. When mine was placed in a K1 split I told her she was lucky because they picked her to do it (which is what the principal told me). Good luck with your school year!

Hi J.,
My experience in a combo class was exciting. I had a 2nd/3rd mix and instead of the class going slow it was challanging and I learned what the 3rd graders were taught. I ended up ahead for a while. Of course that was a while back, I just wanted to let you know that it may not be so terrible. Maybe the Kinder class will just learn more!? Another thing that may matter is the school district you are in and the reason for the class being mixed.

Hope that helps,
C.
Helping moms work from home
www.AtHome4MyGirls.com

I didn't read the rest of the responses, and I don't know how it works in SF, but I was in a couple combo classes when I was little. I was in a split 1/2 and a split 3/4, and I don't remember ever being bored. I had great grades, still learned what I needed to, and now admire my teachers of those classes because they were able to teach 2 different grades at the same time. When I was in that situation, the school admin tended to include the smarter kids in the higher grade, so it may be a compliment to your daughter and her learning that she's in the split grade. Talk to the school admin for their reasons, or sit back and see how it goes :)

At my children's school, all the classes are combo and we love it! There are three classes that are 1-2-3 and my daughter is starting 2nd grade there. There are two classes that are 4-5 and my son will be in 5th grade. There are so many benefits and we haven't seen and big downsides (at their school there are also 2 teachers per classroom and up to 38 kids). Contact me if you want more info.

Hi J.,

I'm almost 36, and was enrolled in an alternative elementary school starting back in the last part of the 70's. It was a very strange place, and not a perfect model in MANY ways, but one thing they made work was combining classes, in the same way you are talking about. It was actually good. I don't know how your daughter's school structures the classes, but where I was at learning was quite self directed. Kids went at a pace they could handle. (Even within one grade there is a huge spectrum of ability.) Putting kids together at different grade levels also allows (with proper supervision, of course) some of the older kids to mentor youngers, which actually benefits both parties by helping one get up to speed while the other learns valuable leadership and teaching skills. Oftentimes older kids are looked up to and if you have a few responsible kids in the class they can be role models for everybody. I occasionally tutored classmates at my school and that not only helped my teacher focus on everyone else, it also helped my classmate learn with individual attention, and it gave me confidence too. So it can really be win-win, with the right teacher who can set the tone and keep things running smoothly. That's one perspective anyway. All the best.

Hi J.,

K-1 classes are great for the first graders because the kindergartners are only there for part of the time. For the rest of the day the first graders have the teacher all to themselves, sometimes a 10-1 or 12-1 student to teacher ratio. No other students have such a great ratio. We used to teach reading at this time.

During the time all the students are together, they may work on the same assignment but with different expectations. For example, the ks might be expected to write a sentence while the 1s might be expected to write a story.

I enjoy volunteering for one hour or two each week in my daughter's class. It really helped me support her learning at home.

Good luck!

i agree that the best route is to meet with the teacher and get a sense for how the class is run. making schedule change demands is not fun for a school. i'm a HS teacher, and it's quite obnoxious to make all these change requests. not that parents don't have a right to advocate for their kids. i'd advocate for my kids too. as educators, we'd like a chance to explain things before we're told to scrap everything!

that being said, keep in mind that teachers are trained to teach either k-8 or a specialized subject for HS. an experienced and well-trained teacher should have NO problems having materials and activities that are appropriate for a combo class. many elementary teachers change grades every few years, just to keep sharp or because they like the change. a combo activity might be like this: you read a story appropriate for K and 1st grades, but their assignments afterwards are different. the 1st grade assignment is more complex, involves some limited writing, etc. they may be asked to extend the story. the k assignment will be different and more appropriate for them.

hope your daughter has a wonderful experience!

Relax. Sometimes schools have uneven enrollment in certain grades ---in other words, laws prohibit them from putting extra kids in already full classes, but they don't have enough kids, rooms or teachers to make up another classroom in that grade. If this happens with two grades, they have to combine. It doesn't mean your child is slow! It doesn't mean that they do the curriculum for the lower group only. It's more like they work in small groups.
I was in GATE for years, as a child, and we always had combo classes (because of the small numbers of kids in each grade who qualified).
I've known teachers who taught split grades. It can be a harder job for the teacher (two separate curriculum to juggle), but there is no reason the students would be negatively affected, because ultimately it is the same number of students. As I recall from my own experience, my teachers would set one group going with an assignment, and then move to the other group. When they got going, she would go back and check the first group.

I wasn't happy either at first when a mixed class was thrown at us as a surprise the day before school started (same situation as you, K/5, our daughter with a June B-day was in the 1). But it actually worked out quite well. The first graders all had K buddies that they helped with things, it really helped them instill a sense of responsibility and there was a lot of personal growth that year that might not have otherwise occurred. The only issues I saw were a lot more noise and chaos due to a higher number of kids that could have been better managed with more aides (which of course they couldn't afford) or volunteers which they started getting part way through the school year. There was no problem with the first graders staying where they needed to be academically, they separated them for their own time. For example, they would read a story together, then the Ks would go do a K appropriate assignment based on the story, and the 1s would go do a 1 appropriate assignment. I hope it works out well for you.

My son was in a combined 2nd and 3rd grade classes, i.e. he was in the combined class for both 2nd and 3rd grades. My son's school ususally put the smarter and the better behaved kids i combined classes. The kids had to be able to work quietly and independently while the teacher was working with the other group. Being in a combined class also allowed a small review of the previous year's work for the older group and an introduction to the next year's work for the younger group. I attended a two-room school house in 4th grade and probably learned more during that year than any other--again because of getting a review of 3rd grade work and an introduction to 5th grade work. Also, when older kids were finished with our work, we went down to the lower grades and helped those kids with their work. If you are still concerned, talk to the teacher about your concerns.

I've had two of my children in combo classes. My daughter was on a 5/6 combo when she was in 5th grade. and my youngest adhd/anxiety/asperger syndrome son was in a 3/4 combo class when he was in 4th grade. Both had great years. And it was probably one of THE best years for my son. It actually gave him more individual attention because they had not only the teacher but also an aide on a daily basis to help when needed. It also gave him the opportunity to be a leader and the older child in the group (unlike at home where he's the baby).

I would say give it a chance before worrying about it. This is a great opportunity for your daughter to learn some great leadership skills very early. If you still have concerns once school starts and she's been in the class for a while THEN talk to the teacher about what your concerns are. Every teacher my kids have had have always been willing to meet with me to make my kids education experience the best we can BOTH possibly make it. Good luck and don't worry about it till there's something to worry about.

Relax, combo classes have been around before we were born. Have you watched Little House on the Prairie. They had Kindergarten to 12th grade. Have you watched the Duggars on TLC, they are home schooled and the mom works with kids of all ages.

My daughter was in combo classes back in the 90's. When they get to Jr. High and High School they will be in combo classes.

If you don't think your child is learning the way she should, see if there is a combo class of 1st and 2nd graders, but your daughter might do really good in the class that she is assigned too.

Good luck.

I am glad you posted this as I just learned yesterday that my 3rd grader will be in a 2nd/3rd combo class this year in her dual-immersion (Spanish) program. She tested GATE (gifted) last year and had a really good year after a couple of rough years in which she was frustrated, etc. in the classroom. Anyway, we will be meeting w/ the teacher about her GATE assignments in a few weeks, so I will probably discuss how the combo class will work then. However, in the meantime I do feel more reassured after reading the responses to your post.

Dear J.,
Since school is so close to starting, you should be able to contact the school to talk to someone about this instead of worrying about the reasons for being in a combo class. Then, give it a try.
It seems nowadays that all schools have combo classes and it could be a matter of enrollment as opposed to academic issues. We live in a rural area and I know all kinds of kids that have been in a combo class at some grade level or another. They've all flourished just fine.
Speak to someone about your concerns and you'll likely feel better about it. If, for some reason, your daughter is absolutely miserable about it, it can be revisited after the school year is well underway. Odds are she'll do just great with it.

Best of wishes!

I go to a school that does combined classes....this is my daughters first year in Kindergarten....she does not share a class with 1st grade....but other grades do like 4 and 5th....Some schools will be this way due to zoning....and well lack of school funds from the state....or due to room in the school as well...The class will probablly have a teacher and an assistant or possibly two assistants....I would ask questions at open house..I am sure they are prepared to answer a lot...knowing that parents are concerned that thier child will get the attention and education they need.

If you are still unsure about this plan,,,have a backup, look at other schools in your district that your child can transfer to or private schools

I would try it out and see how she does....and then do some research and see if it would happen next year and what your options would be.

I think if a child was in a mixed class on year they will not be in a mixed class the following year.

Don't jump to any conclusions regarding the combo class. Give it a chance. I personally am in favor, if it were economically possible, of our country going back to the K-8 one room schools such as I attended. With a mix of ages, the kids get a more realistic look at life. Older kids help younger, etc. But, back to the type of combo your daughter is in... there may be any number of reasons for combining the classes. The Kindergartners in her class are most likely those who are ahead of most kids their age, but that doesn't mean your daughter is behind most first graders either. I recommend that you let the teacher know that once the first week's rush is over, you and your husband would like to make an appointment and discuss this with her in order that you will have a better understanding and be able to work with her better to help your daughter. Then at the meeting be as honest as you can about your feelings, without being confrontive or argumentive. You'll probably leave such a meeting feeling great about your daughter's class and her prospects of having a wonderful school year.

Hi J., I'm with you and your husband about being wary of combo classes for that age group. My son started at one school with a kindergarten teacher that was very 'in touch' with my son's needs, as he was a slow learner. When we moved, his new school put him in a K- 1 combo class, and everything he had learned in the previous school was lost by the end of the school year at the new school. The school kept him in that same class for the next year, and making litte progress, I had him taken out and put into a same grade classroom. He ended up in ILP for several years. Your daughter sounds bright, so I would closely monitor how well she is doing. Keep 'on' the teacher if you notice her learning skills slipping. Good luck to you and your daughter, CJ

K/1 combos really have nothing to do with ability. How they serperate the kids depends on the classroom. In a Montessori classroom where all the classes are split like that through all grade levels there are usually two teachers in the room. If there is only one teacher, that teacher will have his/her own method of splitting up the class when it's necessary. It can actually be a good opportunity for your daughter to practice what she has learned and be a "student mentor" to the younger kids. The combo classes are not for everyone, but they certainly aren't bad.

When teachers make recomendations for combo class candidates it can be looked at in one of two ways, mostly depending on what the principal wants. Either they (we) choose the really good independant workers who we think can handle doing some things on their own while the teacher is working with the other grade, or the ones who need some review of the previous grade. Then, sometimes it isn't anything the previous teachers said, the principal just puts them in.

I would say give it a chance wait a week or two, see how your daughter likes the teacher and how the teacher is handling the combo situation. If you don't think it is working out for your daughter then appeal to the administration to move her and give them a good reason why it is YOUR daughter that should be moved when there is space (there may not be any wiggle room in the enrollment, there sometimes isn't when combos have to be created). Sometimes enrollment changes and combos get changed to straight classes on their own too! Especially K/1 classes if there are enough last minute K enrollments to fill the class.

I'm a big fan of multi-age classrooms. I went to a school that put several grades in one room and it was much better for me than single-grade classrooms. The bright, independent learners who would get bored in a classroom where everyone is on the same page as they are lectured from the front can do more self-directed learning, yet request guidance from the teacher when it's needed. And the slower learners in the classroom can benefit from a more individual approach as well. Also, the kids can help each other learn, which is good for everyone. Give it a try!

I was in a 5th/6th grade combo class. I graduated in the top 10% of my class. Don't stress over it. I don't ever remember being bored.

Hello J.: Congradulations on the combination class!! I have had 4 of my 5 children in them because we requested it after our first child's experiances. Then only reason the 5th didn't is because he is a special needs child.
My husband was a teacher and I have spent years as a advocate for special needs.
I have found from our experiances that the younger children were generally more advanced and could keep right up there and that the children that were the older class were just as bright as anyone else and liked having the personal time of a smaller group when the younger ones were not there, or had an aid that worked withthem and had the teacher all to themselves. A regular class does not have this situation.
So please DO NOT THINK THAT IT MEANS THAT YOUR CHILD HAS A PROBLEM-- in fact it may mean that your child is bright and needs the stimulation that this combination can give.
Good Luck, Nana Glenda

Usually when schools mix grades, they provide an aide to the teacher and they set up instruction so that one group is busy doing a task being overseen by the aide and the other group is being directly instructed by the teacher. Also, it may be that the 1st graders will join the other first grade classes in the afternoon for reading and/or math instruction or perhaps they do music, art or PE during part of the 3 hour session the K children are in attendance.

If you are concerned I would request to sit in on that portion of the day and see exactly what happens in the classroom. Most schools take great care to provide the best instruction and it may be that the K children are repeating the grade or scored high in their entry exam, which is why they were mixed in with a 1st grad class. Some schools specifically choose higher scoring children like your daughter so that they can practice reading to the younger ones, etc. Before you get angry, check out the situation and if after being in the classroom, you are still apprehensive about it, then by all means, request to have her switched to a different 1st grade class.

No, they don't think she's slow, it's probably more about class size.

My son was put in a K/1 when he was in Kinder, and I was unhappy about it because I didn't want him to miss out on the sweet and fun activities of Kindergarten. He did miss out on a lot, actually -- they geared the class toward the first graders.

Don't worry at all about your daughter being behind because of this. She's only in first grade. She'll get plenty of instruction (assuming it's a good school). It will be fine.

I understand your concern, and I am glad you're not angry about it. I give kudo to you. Like the MaMas, who had posted already, there are great advices. Your daughter probably has been selected because she is independent, hard working, at grade level in kinder and can handle a combo class. A combo class will help develop your daughter's leadership and teamwork skills vastly. I assuming your district and school are up to par on all state standards in all grade levels, and I know that isn't always possible depending your school and community. However, if you and your husband still have questions and concerns that your child is struggling with her homework and class work, you should go set up an appointment and speak to the teacher regarding your concerns. It would be great to continue to keep an open communication. Good Luck and have a great 1st day of school!

ten to one if you think that she is ahead of her peers she probably is-when my daughter was in a 2/3 split she was in ist with other kids that were bright and able to be independent workers.Your daughter has probably proven herself to be able to sit and concentrate and get her work done. Do think of this as a punishment for her we had a really great experience with our split class-no one was left behind in fact they were pushed harder and more was expected of them-your daughter is probably being put with Kinders that are already academic in nature(early readers etc.) Try it out before getting freaked out. You might find it very satisfying-I did and realized my child had alot to give to the younger students.

I am a second grade school teacher and I can tell you that her being placed in that class does not necessarily mean that she is behind. When placing a student in a combo class we look at things like behavior, attentiveness, ability to work independently, etc. A child in a combo class needs to be able to work independently. They cannot have a serious behavior problem that will take up a lot of their teacher’s time. A combo class can help your child learn more then the average class if it is taught right. This might not be the same for every school, but this is the way I group my students.

Dear Mamas,

I was very happy to read this thread. I hope others can help give me advice. My child was placed this year in a combination class at Sedgwick Elementary school in Cupertino, California. It has now been about 2 months and we are really upset by the experience. Initially, we gave the situation the benefit of the doubt and tried to be positive about the placement. However, the classroom designation has been all negative so far. Here are the reasons:

1. Most of the children in the class are in a lower grade, there are only 6 other children in her grade out of a class size of 24. She feels that she is being held back and people often remark that she is in the lower grade. Also, the teacher is spending most of her time instructing the younger students and my child (and the other 6) are left to do their curriculum with very little instruction or oversight.

2. This combination class does not appear to have been designed. What I mean is that it seems that they did this only because of enrollment numbers. I don't think the teacher has any training on how to handle a multi age classroom. The first few weeks, all the children were doing the same activities, older and younger kids were doing the same things, at the lower level.

3. At PE time, the class goes out together, so socialization at that time is on the lower level. My daughter doesn't have many friends in the other classes that are her age.

4. Compared to students in other classes, my child is falling behind. I have talked to a number of parents whose children are in classes that are not combined. They are doing so much more and being taught well. Many more activities, writing activities, participation and involvement, etc. etc.

5. My child's teacher is the same as the one she had last year. She has to hear the same instruction and do similar activities as she did last year. She is getting bored and not stimulated.

At the end of the day, my daughter is just an afterthought for the school and the teacher. She is just an extra student who couldn't fit into a class so they stuck her in a class one year younger :( I am doing my best at home to help her keep up with other students in the other classes. I feel like I am homeschooling.

The teacher and principal try to be helpful and listen, but the situation is just bad all around. I really want my child in her own appropriate grade, but they say there is no room! What can I do? This is my daughter, and I never would've expected this school year to be going so badly.

Is this even legal?

God bless...

I've been working at the local elementary for the past few years and I can tell you that the kids they put in combo classes are definitely not the "slow" ones, on the contrary they try to fill these classes with the brighter, more mature kids. It is usually a very positive experience for all. My daughter was in a 2/3 split and it was great because she got to experience some field trips, activities, etc. that her fellow 2nd graders didn't get to do.
Before getting too worked up, I would take a deep breath and wait for back to school night, which should happen about 2-3 weeks after school starts. That's when your child's teacher will present the curriculum for the year and talk about how she will run the classroom. I'm sure you'll get all your questions answered then.

It's been many years since my children were in a combo classroom of 1 and 2nd grade and even some third graders. (My children are now parents themselves). The combo classroom was great. It helped the older children reinforce their learning. It challenged the younger children to speed up. It probably does require a special teacher to be able to evaluate each child and keep each challenged. I felt it was a real bonus for my children to be in such a class. (By the way, both my daughter and son became mechanical engineers...perhaps not because of the combo classes, but it didn't hurt!) You should volunteer in the class and see how it is working. Most teachers really value the help of their parents. The children love to have their parents help in the classroom.
E. Corte Madera

Hi J.,

My daughter was in first grade in a K/1 combo class last year and it was a fabulous year. Much of the credit goes to a great teacher who was organized and creative. Both the kinders and first graders were encouraged to be self-reliant and they rose to the challenge. For our daughter, the year was an opportunity for a smart but sometimes shy girl to become a classroom leader. She really blossomed. And having half the day with a 10:1 ratio was great too! I give much of the credit to the teacher. I hope that your experience will be good as well. I, too, was nervous about it at first but it worked out great. Unfortunately, kids aren't always born in groups of 20! Good luck to you and your family.

Fear not...The school probably does the combo classes to limit the amount of teachers with small classes. It has nothing to do with the level of your child's achievements in the prior years class. I am sure they will have a second helper that will be in the classroom during the afternoon when the Kindergarten children are there.(it is a state requirement) Since the mornings are only 1st graders, they will most likely do all the grade specific educating in the mornings, and the group things will be saved for the afternoon. Believe me, the school day is full of educating through social interacting at that level, and she will be fine. Some private schools have multiple grade levels and they do just as well if not better than single level classes.
Relax, she is in the 1st grade. Read with her at home whenever posible and use everyday things around the house for teaching math points.....like asking her how many apples are in the fruit basket and if I ate one and daddy ate one, how many would be left.
Anyway, power to you for being concerned, pay attention to her level as school progresses, and approach the teacher with any concerns you and your husband might have. Communication with the instructor and involvement by the parents is the key to success in a child's education.

My training is as a high school science teacher (I taught 5 years in the public schools in CA). Now with two young children I have been helping out in my local elementary school back in CA and asking lots of questions in recent years as a I prepared to take the multiple subject credential. Now I do this in a new country where many classes are multi-age. My understanding is administrators tend to put the proactive learners and those who are better at self-teaching in the combo classes when they have a choice in CA. I would not worry too much. Children actually do better in mixed groups statistically; public schools have separated by age due to lack of resources and for ease of teaching. Remember most children used to be in groups with children of all different ages and were often taught by parents, tutors or in one-room school houses. Public school as we know it is a very modern concept. (Universal public schooling is really only about 200 years old). Just keep doing the things you know you should - let them see you reading quality materials a lot, turn off the T.V. and computer as much as possible unless it is educational, give them open-ended materials with which to play (water, sand, blocks, paper, art materials), read and do math and science with them, praise their efforts, guide them carefully, keeping up life-long learning patterns together. Take interest in their school lessons and activities, participate when you can, and learn with them. [A great book to encourage this is How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk] They will imitate what is modeled for them. Of course be their advocate and do what you know is best for them. If that means a better school district or a different teacher, choose carefully and limit changes when you can. Consistency of caregivers at young ages does much for development. Happy learning!

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.