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!!!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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