They say you learn a lot in kindergarten, but not all of it is good. For instance you might learn numbers, shapes and colors from your teacher, but from your classmates you can also learn that it is okay to hit, talk back to adults, and disobedience. This problem has been exasperated by placing students into age-grouped classrooms. In a class of students with ages ranging from say six to twelve, you could expect that your six-year old’s behavior would be influenced by the more mature, older students. The twelve-year olds provide role models and are also not too tolerant of immature behavior. In an age-grouped classroom the effect is worse than neutral where not only are older role models lacking, behavior tends to migrate toward the worst behaved students, not the best. In an age-segregated class, the more mature students have to behave immaturely to get along with the others. In the classroom full of fourth graders, no one wants to be like the teacher’s pet. But one thing you can say about fourth graders is that they do want to be like the sixth graders. Younger students greatly admire older students, they want to be like them, and they don’t want to be scolded by older students for behaving poorly. Generally speaking, several years of being surrounded by older students, students to look up to and emulate, would surely accelerate a child’s maturity.
A few posts back I wrote about exceptional children from America’s past and wondered about what enabled children then to accomplish so much at a young age. Age segregation is certainly a contributing factor. Children grow up isolated in many ways in these ‘progressive’ times; not just at school, but at church and through organized sports. We don’t see many children at weddings or funerals. Even the dinner table, probably a child’s most important social setting has been ruined in about 70% percent of homes because the television has been invited to dinner (presuming the family even eats dinner together).
The rant against homeschooling is that those students won’t be socialized properly without being in a classroom. If that socialization depends on age-segregated classrooms, I’ll pass. Rather, I would socialize my children by having that out in real society, partaking in adult conversation (or at least observing); seeing how adults work together, proper manners, social protocols, learning about what is important in the adult world (hopefully it won’t be American Idol). If I must place my children in school, the multi-age classroom would be a better place for them to be socialized.