Child in combo class, looking for supplemental material ideas - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 09-04-2012, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
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My DS has been assigned into a combination 2nd/3rd grade class this year and I am very unhappy. He is in public school, tomorrow would have been the first day of 3rd grade for him.


Since he will only be getting half of the normal 3rd grade education I am looking for supplemental educational materials so I can tutor him to keep him from falling behind his former peers. As of the end of 2nd grade he was above grade level for most subjects and at grade level for the remainder. I don't know why he was placed in this class, I didn't think he was a retention risk or in need of remediation, but apparently something went horribly wrong since now he gets to be one of the dimmer 3rd graders alongside the brighter 2nd graders. 


Should I get the same books they will be using at his school and go over that with him at home or should I look for other materials at a teacher supply store or website? Basically I don't want him to waste an entire year and fall behind. I would like him at least to be at grade level, above grade level would be a bonus though I seem to have overestimated his abilities since now he will be a 2nd grader again for half of the day.


Should I even be the one tutoring him or should I get a tutoring service or take him to one of those tutoring centers?


Since a lot of forum moms homeschool, I hoped some of you might know where to look for materials. I appreciate any suggestions for resources, I'll ask his teacher too if I get a chance tomorrow. TIA.

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#2 of 6 Old 09-05-2012, 03:56 AM
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This is still the first day of third grade for your ds! Being in a split grade does not mean that the older students are all "dimmer" than those who might be in the lower half of a split grade or those placed in a class with students all in the same grade. Often students are selected to be in the position your child is in because they are strong students - the teacher has confidence that when it comes time for her to work with the younger grade, your child can be relied on to do his work on his own.


I live in a rural area and my children have often been in split classes since we made the shift from homeschooling to public schooling. I have never experienced it as them only receiving half of their education. The teachers have always done a good job of covering all areas of the curriculum and I like it that they are given the opportunity to become responsible for some of their time. They have always covered all areas of the curriculum and in many ways have benefited from having children slightly older or slightly younger in their class.


Having two grades in one class does not mean that your child will miss anything from the curriculum. He was not placed in a grade 2 class, he was placed in a 2/3 class and the teacher and principal have planned the year accordingly for all of the students. He will not be in second grade for half the day. He will be in third grade all day long. In subjects like math and language, teachers generally teach a lesson and then get the students to do some work in groups or quietly at their desks. In split classes they still do this but they teach a lesson to one group while the other works and then just shift. My ds was in split classes for four years in a row and had no problems at all when he got to high school, was still top of his class, in fact. There are some benefits to split classes but it is good to understand how the teacher plans to get everything covered.


I would suggest that you set up a meeting with the teacher to ask questions about the things that have you so concerned.

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#3 of 6 Old 09-05-2012, 07:41 AM
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Do you know for a fact he was placed there for retentive reasons? I ask because that's actually not how most schools place kids in combos these days. Combos are generally filled with higher level, independent workers from BOTH grades. These kids share a teacher and so they want those who need less repetition and can be trusted to work on assignments independently. They want mature kids who can work with older kids but also those who can be positive leaders and role models for the younger ones. Believe me, they have to cover all the material for testing purposes. They aren't going to only give him half the curriculum.... they want combo kids who can learn ALL the curriculum in half the instruction time.


My DS was in two combo classes as the higher grade K/1 and 4/5. He actually loved those years because he was with the more focused and stronger students. The added bonus, the students with recurrent behavioral issues were excluded (not because they weren't smart but because the teacher/students didn't need the added distraction.) Both times the combos ended further ahead than the one grade only classes. DS is gifted and has always worked years ahead academically. He was not injured at all from being in a combo and actually enjoyed the mixed age learning environment.


So, based on what you said, I seriously doubt your child was placed in the combo because he was dim. That sort of placement was popular when we were kids but our district no longer uses that placement and I suspect yours doesn't either.


Don't stress about tutoring or supplementing just yet. I suspect you'll be pleasantly surprised. 

Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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#4 of 6 Old 09-05-2012, 08:16 AM
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Split class/ multi age rooms are not for "dimmer" students.  They don't get "half" the curriculum.  They are a different model of education that can be highly beatifically to all types of learners.  In fact I am *only* interested in sending my ds to a school that offers mixed age groups and am currently considering taking a teaching position in a split classroom.  I would have no intention of only give my students "half" an education!!!!  He is not being retained.  He is in 3rd grade.  I wouldn't do anything differently than what you would have done if he had been in a 3rd grade only classroom.

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#5 of 6 Old 09-05-2012, 08:29 AM
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Wow, I sure hope you can realign your preconceptions about this! My kids are in three-grade splits (7/8/9 and 10/11/12 respectively). That's all their school offers and it seems to me like they're getting wonderful, robust educations, not "a third of a normal high school education." I'm a homeschooling mom (my kids were homeschooled until adolescence, and my youngest, at 9, is still homeschooled) and I would not recommend adding school at home or tutoring in your situation. He'll be getting a full day of school, and if he's a 3rd-grader he will be challenged at that level. No worries.



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#6 of 6 Old 09-10-2012, 02:43 PM
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My son was selected for a combo class (2nd/3rd Grade) as a third grader as well.  I reacted about the same as the poster. While I still do not think a combo class was ideal for my son (unlike at some smaller schools, combos are not done intentionally at our school to allow students to work at their level - they are done strictly due to limited resources), things worked out fine in the end.  


As another poster mentioned, the kids in these combo classes are selected primarily due to their non-disruptive behavior, independent study skills and strong school performance.  There were few behavior issues in my son's class last year, while his friend's class was repeatedly held back by behavior problems.  His teacher was also described as "the best we ever had" by many former students - some of whom had already graduated HS.  


I took care at the beginning to check with my friend to compare her son's (non-combo) class with mine's and as it was clear they were keeping pace, I was able to relax a bit. I would suggest doing that a bit to relieve your worries.


I still don't know how the teacher managed to do it with 30+ kids in the classroom, but she did a great job.

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