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Introduction to Combined Grades

Combined classes group children from two or more successive grades in one classroom. For example, a class may be a grade two/grade three combined class. Schools sometimes combine classes to meet student learning needs or to balance class sizes.

Both single-grade and combined grade classrooms have students performing at different achievement levels. Schools and teachers strive to meet the individual needs of all students.

Class structure can include large groups, small groups, and individual students. Sometimes teachers will present a common topic and each grade has a different task to complete. Students may work in different groups to solve problems or share activities such as physical education and the arts.

Key Benefits

Combined classrooms offer some key benefits to students including:

  • A broader support structure - younger students can ask students from the higher grade for help.
  • Peer tutoring opportunities - older students learn by explaining problems to their younger peers, which reinforces knowledge and positive social behaviours.
  • Improved language and reading skills - studies have found that students in combined classes do better in language and reading.
  • Rich social environment - students learn how to work on their own and as part of a team; build leadership skills as they help each other; develop decision-making skills and learn in an environment that reflects the real world.
  • Diverse ideas - the opinions of classmates from two different grades help expand students' perspectives.

Additional Resources

Ontario Ministry of Education - Introduction to Combined Grades Pamphlet