September has arrived and the school year started at March Academy on September 1. Even amid the masks, hand sanitizer and physical distancing, everyone is very happy to be back to school. Being away from school for 6 months has helped us all to realize how much we value learning and playing together in community. We have one cohort of students ranging in age from 6 to 12 – very much akin to a one-room schoolhouse. Our small, multi-aged group works perfectly for us.
In a multi-aged group, children are free to be children. We witnessed it many times over that last two weeks; at recess our children play with each other in active, joyful ways. The pressure of ‘acting one’s age’ or ‘being cool among peers’ seems to go away when children of all ages interact. Friendships are based on interests and activities. “Let’s play Nest Ball!” shouts a 10-year old and the whole group joins in. The same goes for making tunnels and castles in the sandbox, skipping with rope on the labyrinth or playing with balls and scoops. Sometimes younger children take the initiative and, at other times, an older child may take the lead.
At Meeting Place each morning, children feel confident sharing news with each other in a respectful way knowing that they are not being judged. A younger child shares her knowledge of horses followed by an older child explaining the virtues of pumpkin patches. One child has a leopard gecko that eats live crickets and another child raises chickens. We have dancers, football players, cheerleaders, horseback riders, swimmers, cyclists, gamers, readers, farmers, dragon masters, LEGO builders, and hockey players. Regardless of age, each child’s interests and talents are valued amongst the group. It’s as interesting to learn about each other as it is to share our news.
This genuine acceptance of each other creates a confidence that carries through to learning situations. Whether we’re reading picture books at D.E.A.R. time or 400-page novels, it’s O.K. We learn about letters and their sounds before learning about words and their use in reading and writing. Learning how to count comes before memorizing the times-tables. Younger children see what is possible, while older children are reminded of how far they have come.
Most importantly, our children feel good about themselves and their learning. Being valued as who we are as people is vital to learning. We are looking forward to learning more about each other throughout the year and seeing where our learning will take us.
To learn more about The March Academy Way, please visit our website at www.marchacademy.ca.