About our methods
EtonHouse Kazakhstan International School is a school that equips students to develop as curious, competent, confident and compassionate global citizens. Multi-age classrooms are an integral part of how we pursue this mission.
Several scientific studies in the field of education demonstrate that students in multi-age classrooms have academic achievements on the same level as those in single-age classrooms, but the research also suggests that the benefits of multi-age classrooms include:
- Increased student independence, developing students’ abilities to learn and apply their knowledge outside the classroom. This ability to self-direct their learning promotes student confidence as they participate in setting goals and achieving them. Furthermore, multi-age classrooms allow students to excel by beating their own previous “personal best,” without need to compare and rank students against one another. This leads to a safe and stimulating learning environment in which other students are not so much competitors as much as they are fellow explorers.
- They fuel curiosity, as students see others learning diverse material and often have a chance to join in and give it a try if they are ready. Younger students gain informal exposure to content taught at higher levels, making it more accessible when they are ready for it. Older students watch as younger students discover and might jump in to help explain or give examples.
- Better development of life skills as compared to single-age classrooms, including collaboration, communication and compassion for others who are different than they are. Older students in particular gain opportunities to practise leadership and mentorship skills from a young age, learning to consider and navigate the needs of individuals and groups.
- They help each child develop his or her unique competence outside of the narrow expectations of an age-specific curriculum. In other words, multi-age classrooms encourage teachers and students to see each student as an individual and allow those needs to be addressed on an individual basis, rather than setting uniform expectations on all students that do not adequately respond to their needs.
- A setting that more closely resembles the real world in that students are expected to be responsible for their tasks, to interact with people who are different from them in various ways, helping them to hone the characteristics of a global citizen.
Multi-age classrooms at EtonHouse have made the following possible:
- A third grader doing sixth grade math, participating in group work, and using the concepts to solve problems collaboratively, while the older students in the class learned to lead and co-operate productively with younger students.
- Many prep students learning to read and write on the same level as grade 1 students while the grade 1 students were challenged to explain and articulate their own learning to younger students
- Strong friendships crossing boundaries of age, language and culture
- The opportunity to celebrate the achievements of students who excel, whether academically or in other aspects
Multi-age classrooms are friendly to student-centered learning. In student-centered learning, the teacher is not the “sage on the stage” but the “guide on the side.” In the 21st century, information about almost any subject is at our fingertips 24 hours a day. Modern students need to learn how to process information, think critically and solve problems. In student-centered learning experiences, the teacher guides students through their own processes of discovery, analysis, application and synthesis of ideas. In our classrooms, this often takes place in flexible grouping arrangements. The teacher’s role is to carefully plan and guide student learning experiences by assessing each learner’s needs, planning comprehensively to address each child’s needs in a given lesson, creating and controlling the conditions of learning in the classroom, and providing ongoing guidance and feedback to students as they discover, think and solve.
Language learning through immersion
The benefits of learning a language through immersion are undeniable. Learning a language increases a child’s intelligence, the ability to understand and relate to other cultures, as well as the ability for a child to understand the world through a global perspective.
The children in our school are exposed to the diverse cultures of their peers, their teachers, as well as the cultures of the countries that correspond with the language they are learning. To learn the language of a culture is to have a key to that culture and its people.
At EtonHouse we believe it is very important to help develop children’s creative and critical thinking skills and so we provide many opportunities within our curriculum and extra-curricular activities to challenge and excite the students. They participate in a variety of activities involving problem solving that encourages them to experiment with a range of creative solutions. With thinking tools to assist them they begin to ask more focused and clarifying questions. They develop skills in collecting and organising ideas from a range of sources to construct knowledge. They start to learn to question the validity of sources, communicate and record their questions, responses and thoughts, and to give reasons for their conclusions. They reflect regularly on their thinking and learn to describe their thinking process verbally.
Differentiated instruction with curriculum as guide
The curriculum has been developed specifically for Kazakhstan, using globally accepted learning requirements and expectations infused with elements of the local Kazakh curricula. It is designed to be flexible and differentiated according to the needs of every student cohort, and the proportions of inquiry based learning and explicit instruction will vary accordingly. For this reason we also keep class sizes to a maximum of 16. The aim is for each student to be capable of investigating and learning, for both achievement and for pleasure, throughout their lives. The curriculum is used across the school and is offered in three languages – English, Russian & Kazakh.