Mixed Grade Schools

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Seeking Mixed-Grade School for advanced kindergartener

Oct 2014

My son is about start kindergarten next year. His reading and math are currently well beyond his age level, probably about 3rd grade level. We were originally hoping to send him to public school, but are now worried that being forced to sit through the abc's and basic addition would make him associate school w boring. Both my husband and I were bright, but very delinquent children, who were bored out of our minds at school, and it ended up with us dropping out of school, running w the wrong crowd and substance abuse, so the issue is definitely pushing some of our own schooling buttons.

Our preschool teachers suggested perhaps looking at skipping grades, but I don't think my son is emotionally ahead of his age level, maybe even a little bit behind. I am currently investigating mixed grade/age schools, as that has worked out lovely for us in preschool. So far, the only one that I have found is crestmont, the co-op school in richmond hills. We loved it on the tour last year, but the commute is probably not realistic for us, since we are in N. Oakland. Can anyone suggest a school that is similar but closer to home?

Also, I know BUSD has differentiated learning, and would love to hear some real world experience of what that is like for other parents w kids who are ahead. I know we are not the only ones.

Thanks in advance! mixed grade schoools?

It may not feasible for you, because it's also in Richmond (near the El Cerrito BART), but my kids attend a new (public) charter school called Caliber Beta Academy , that really sounds a lot like what you're looking for. The school's philosophy is to provide personalized education, specifically designed to meet the needs and abilities of all students.

We stumbled upon this school, because we too were concerned about what a typical school experience was going to be like for our bright children who love and thrive at reading and math and woudl be bored by a lot of whole class lessons around things they already know. Each student at Caliber gets a Personalized Learning Plan, outlining their specific strengths and needs and detailing the academic goals for the student that year.

They combine some computer curriculum (to allow the kids to work at their own pace on their own level), with lots of hands-on exploration in science and social studies, differentiated reading and writing groups, and they do just a whole lot of really cool things-- robotics and yoga and art and science experiments and music. For example, my kids came home the other day drawing eighth and quarter notes, talking about programming their robots and talking to me about their ''unique identities'' (their words, ha), while also demonstrating different yoga poses! A lot of the kids in the kindergarten class are English Learners without a preschool background-- so there are a LOT of different needs and current academic abilities in the classrooms, but they manage to my kids really stimulated too.

I also like that they really quickly pinpointed the areas of need my kids do have-- though they're really ahead in some things, they have some other areas where they need some real development, such as in fine motor skills-- something they do not gloss over at all at the school. Oh, and my kids very favorite part of the kindergarten is the whole room that's the tinker tank-- devoted to building, designing, and engineering (as well as doing hands-on math modeling).

It's brand new, so there have been a few kinks to work out in the beginning, but overall, it's a pretty cool place thus far. Good luck with your kindergarten search! -- caliber mama

I teach at another charter school in the area, and many of my 6th graders from last year are 7th graders in the first class at Summit . I've talked to 6 or 7 of them since the school year began and they all seem really, really happy there and excited by the school and curriculum. I don't know a lot of the specifics about Summit-- I know they use (in part at least) a blended learning model that involves some computerized instruction and students have these ''playlists'' of lessons they progress through. I know that each student had to make a presentation outlining their academic goals for the year and how they will achieve them (which is a great idea). I know they all went on a camping trip together near the beginning of the year, which sounded really cool. Anyway, my information is all second-hand, but I haven't heard any of them or their parents say a bad thing about the school yet. My own children are a few ways off from middle school, but I'll definitely be investigating Summit more when the time comes.

Check out Walden in Berkeley. My kid went there from K and is now in middle school. Walden was a great experience. Class size is small (10-15 kids or so, with academic groups no larger than 8) so there's ample room for differentiation in Math and Language Arts. In fact the whole Walden experience is about learning to express yourself in various languages: academic, artistic, and most of all HUMAN. Getting along with others and yourself with kindness and intelligence. Kindergarteners have Spanish, American Sign Language, as well as amazing music, art, drama, dance classes. Art is integrated into the everyday school experience at all grades, so my kid was NEVER bored or rebellious and loved going to school every single day. In fact all the Walden kids I know love school; on school field trips people always comment on how enthusiastic and cooperative they are compared to kids from other schools. This blew my mind as I basically hated school: for me school was a place I too was bored and then a rebel. Kindergarten and first grade have their own classrooms, but 2-3 and 4-5-6 are mixed grade classrooms. Each kid gets to be recognized as an individual and can move at their own pace; their strengths and weaknesses acknowledged and taken care of. Now my child is in a (well regarded) public middle school with little differentiation I can see how the Walden tool-kit of academic and social skills (think for yourself; come up with creative solutions; respect others' and your own opinions; express your thoughts articulately and appropriately) is hugely useful now and into the future. Walden alum parent

Aurora School off Broadway Terrace in Oakland may be what you're looking for. All classes are mixed grade. There are two K/1 classes, two 2/3s and two 4/5s. Kids stay with the same teacher for two years and have the chance to get to know other kids a year older and a year younger in addition to their own grade. It's an amazing system that allows the two teachers in each class to meet each child where he or she is and help them move forward. It seems like you already have some good reasons for wanting a mixed grade class for your child, but you can read more about it here:http://auroraschool.org/progressive-education/multi-graded-classrooms. Mixed grade has been incredibly valuable for my second grader and Aurora has exceeded our expectations. Good luck with your search!

Mills College Children's School also has mixed grade classes, K-5, and it's a wonderful school! Marie S